I am taking a year to research traditional medicine in indegenous cultures of South East Asia, Australia and certain Pacific Islands. My main tools are my notebook, my camera, my backpack and my hands.
Over the last few years, I have been wondering whether this late 19th Century American dude had been the only one in the world to discover that treating the body (e.g. the cervical spine and suboccipital musculature) could help sort out aches and pains (e.g. headaches)
(For those who don’t know: Osteopathy was first discovered by Andrew Taylor Still, the story goes that he was a physician who suffered from bad headaches. One day, he fell asleep with his head lying on a swing (as one does) and when he woke up, his headache had gone. There are other stories about how and why he first started looking for ways of treating the body, but this one by far illustrates my point in the best possible way)
And I was right: most cultures traditionally have manual therapists and healers, as well as phytotherapy and faith healing (check out the ‘background research‘ section). So I decided I wanted to learn some of these techniques for myself, and integrate them to my own practice of osteopathy.I decided on Asia and Australia, for basic reasons: I want to visit some friends down-under, I have trained in Thai massage and would like to know more, I started my journey in India earlier this year and want to learn more on the adaptations of Ayurveda, I want to see for myself the biggest system of disease prevention in the world: Xi Gong, a compulsory State policy to keep the chinese people healthy.
At the moment, I have a ‘mechanical’ structural approach to the body, using soft tissue techniques, HVLATs (i.e. manipulations), mobilisations, METs, harmonic techniques, and specific exercises as well as visceral osteopathy. When the patient is ready for some changes, I use naturopathy: diet and lifestyle changes. I have helped patients using specific herbs, fasting, and the most fashionable naturopathic diet of the moment: the gluten-free lifestyle (and seeing some fantastic results: it is crazy what gluten does to certain people’s bodies)
The Big Project is a great excuse to travel, and have a goal whilst at it. Travelling the world for the sake of it is not for me, nor do I want to binge drink on all continents. However, learning from other cultures, living with local communities and giving something back locally really appeals to me. On top of that, I will come back to Europe with knowledge, new techniques and… a tan!
It all starts October 8th 2008: I leave Paris Charles de Gaulle aiport and arrive the following day in Bangkok, Thailand. All I know about the next two months is that I will visit a few schools of massage, most probably go to Chiang Mai, leave Thailand and go back in to renew visa.
December 10th: leaving Bangkok and landing in Sydney, Australia. I will be staying in and around Sydney for a couple of weeks until my parents arrive before Christmas. Will travel up the Coast, probably in the blue mountains, to Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef and the outback. They return to Sydney for their flight home. And I will travel to Alice Spring’s, to meet some people in a traditional birthing centre, then travel North-West to reach Western Australia after the hurricane season is over, to live in an Aboriginal community for a while (if my Australian visa comes through).
At some point, I have a flight from Sydney to Singapoure. From there, I will decide where I spend the last few months away: China? Pacific Islands: Micronesia, Vanuatu, the middle of nowhere? Both? Time, monsoon and budget will determine where I go. But that seems like such a long time away that I’ll think about it closer to the time.
Then, around the end of September, start of October 2009, I will get back to France! I intend to integrate what I will have learned in my everyday osteopathic practice, and I would love to teach them to others. I have had a couple of propositions in schools in France for when I come back, which is very exciting.