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From Osteopathy to Epiphany: Embracing Pain, Passion, and Purpose

Updated: May 1

When I qualified as an osteopath back in 2012, like many a graduate, I felt completely ill-equipped to be serving the public. Add to that a torn hamstring from 3 years prior, plus the death of my sister and I was a right bloody mess.

I frequently struggled to identify the specific pathology, and the challenge of ‘clinical reasoning’ was too much for me. That, combined with my strong sense that most of the patients I'd seen would probably get better if they moved differently, or even moved at all, nudged me towards yoga as a way to help people. Plus, it was a lot more fun. 

At the same time, I'd attended a course on diagnostic ultrasound, to add another string to my sparse bow. There, I cheekily asked them to ultrasound my still-painful hamstring, to see what the deal was. Shock and awe! It was completely normal, intact, healed and healthy.  Fuck. What? So why was it still hurting? 

This question, my lack of osteopathy confidence, plus a talk I attended on fascia by Robert Schleipp made me rethink my entire education and start to delve into a new world of pain. Studying it, that is.  What I discovered blew my mind and helped reaffirm my choice to ditch osteopathy.  (10 years of study in summary: pain and damage are not the same, and there is a strong psychological component). 

I then set out to spread the word, share the love and help people with what I considered vital information.

But I was up against the strong existing paradigm that pain = damage, so my message largely fell on deaf or disinterested ears. If you don't have pain, why would you care? This outdated notion is still knocking about in mainstream medicine and especially with the public, and many people are fixed in their belief on this. And now Andrew Huberman has gone & done a bloody podcast reaffirming this outdated notion. Ay ya yay.

Anyhow, I could talk about pain for days but I shan’t bore you with it all. The point is, the struggle once again got too much for me - I felt I was getting nowhere on my mission to help people. So I decided to pack it all in, sell my house and move to Bora Bora.

Except, as things went, fate (aka my coach Jean) intervened and gently suggested that I’d get bored after a few months in paradise. Pfft. What does he know?  He only lives in Cape Town.  

Without that frustration and crushing despair, I’d never have listened to the voice inside me that was whispering out to perform. 

See, when we experience a difficulty, we choose either to run towards it or away from it, depending on how meaningful it is for us. The challenge of osteopathy turned out to be less meaningful than first thought. Turns out I don’t much enjoy listening to people whinge and rubbing them better. But the challenges of flying trapeze, handstands, yoga, sharing thought-provoking ideas, and entertaining an audience and doing silly things with them, and helping people work through their baggage really floats my boat and I have run towards those challenges.

When something is important and meaningful to us, we relish the challenges, but for things that aren’t, we want them to be easy. Your reaction to challenges is often feedback to let you know how important an activity is for you.

For example, I love to help people understand and re-evaluate their pain & illness - mostly through a mind-body approach, but the truth is, it’s a heavy subject and I was dismayed to discover that a lot of people who have long term health issues secretly don’t want to get rid of them, much as they say they do. I say this as someone who has been there and experienced it over and over again (hamstring, knee, ankle, hip, shoulder, elbow, neck, back - you name it, I’ve long term injured it) and who wasn’t ready to let go of it, and had an unconscious agenda to hold onto it.

It was only when I examined the purpose they were serving in my life did the health issues change. 

My message to you, dear reader, is that all our struggles are very much serving a purpose. They’re all ON the way, and it’s in diving into them rather than trying to escape or bury them that we resolve them. 

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