How can we have more control over our health and well-being?
As a biologist, I was interested in the interaction between physiology and behaviour; how the internal workings of the body influence behaviour and vice versa. As an animal behaviour scientist, it was clear that behaviour influenced health. As a bodyworker, that same interest in mind-body interaction incorporates practices which knowingly manipulate one to influence the other.
Animals in the wild do not have medical consultants, prescription drugs or health products but neither do they leave good health to chance. Wild animals engage in a range of health maintenance behaviours which actively manage their health; eating clays and charcoal to deactivate dietary toxins, rubbing poisons into fur to kill skin parasites, and avoiding strangers who might carry new pathogens. Details can be found in my book, Wild Health.
What about humans? How self-reliant can we be?
Most of us appreciate that we influence our health through diet, exercise and relaxation. We might use bodywork as part of that need for exercise/relaxation; moving our body in a yoga or tai chi class, relaxing with a massage. But bodywork is more than exercise or relaxation; it is the therapeutic application of knowledge concerning the interaction of mind and body.
I am not talking about 'getting fit' or 'losing weight' but about becoming happier healthier beings through better understanding how our body and mind work. We do not expect to cure osteoarthritis using hands-on bodywork but find, over time, that there is improved mobility and reduced pain. We may not eradicate a lifetime of anxiety yet find, through regular practice of mindful movement, that life seems easier, less dramatic. Similarly, that chronic back problem that leads to days off work no longer needs surgery because you now understand (through feedback from bodywork) what influences your pain levels.
I am not promoting one type of bodywork; any form of mindful one-to-one hands-on therapy to movement-based group work, deserves consideration for managing health. The process is inexpensive, safe, non-addictive, and there are no long-term unpleasant side-effects. For the past 20 years, I have been exploring the self-help potential of mindful bodywork, and my aim, here, is to provide an informational resource.
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Why Bodywork Works
I'm currently writing a series of blogs presenting scientific explanations for how bodywork works. Free extracts are to be found here and I welcome your comments.