The Body Doesn’t Lie
Vicky Vlachonis (an osteopath that I have the incredible good fortune to work with in London) has been instrumental in getting me to understand the importance of the mind body connection. A true healer, Vicky is one of a few very special practitioners who have taught me to take a more holistic approach, an approach which inextricably links our emotional state to our physical health. Below you will find her theory and some very practical, useful tips. Love, gp
From Vicky Vlachonis:
As we go about our busy lives we unknowingly put our muscles, joints, and bones under strain. This stress can mount up incrementally and result in a serious impact on the body such as a sudden fall or a misalignment of the spine. As a holistic Osteopath, I look for and treat these imbalances before they develop into something serious, and re-establish harmony between the body’s structure and its function. Acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy, massage, and cupping can be effectively combined to restore the body’s natural balance and health so that it can begin healing itself. Years of experience have also taught me that often lurking behind physical pain is emotional tension stored, knowingly or unknowingly, in various parts of the body. Physical releases, following realignment of the spine for example, can also trigger emotional releases. So addressing and resolving emotional traumas can also help restore harmony to the body and alleviate some of the aches and pains we accumulate.
More often than not our immediate reaction to pain is to take short-term measures to make it go away. While medication can be useful in alleviating the symptoms (headaches, joint, and muscle pains) it does little to address the underlying cause of the pain. We need to honor the pain and try to understand the physical and emotional reasons behind it. This holistic approach—combining balance and harmony of body and soul—is the key to long-term wellbeing. The key to reaching this balance is what I call positive feedback—steps you take to improve your body’s wellbeing will impact your psyche which, in turn, will give you the strength to address the emotional issues underlying your physical pain.
Here are a few tips which I think will kick start the positive feedback and help you find the right balance for your body and soul:
You are what you eat: Diet is very important. The foods we consume can have a significant impact on the body’s ability to heal itself. When suffering from muscle and joint pain, stop feeding your emotions and avoid acidic foods such as oranges, vinegar, alcohol, coffee, colas, and junk foods which are high in sugar and wheat, as these can exacerbate the inflammation causing the pain.
A glass a day: Start your day with a warm glass of water, add 4-12 drops of Citricidal Liquid grapefruit seed extract by Higher Nature, a natural cleanser which can help you maintain a healthy digestion. It also acts as an anti-viral and anti-microbial agent.
Hot Bath therapy: Treat yourself at least once a week to a hot bath with therapeutic Dead Sea Salts which will provide your body with essential minerals, stimulate blood circulation, and improve skin hydration while reducing inflammation. As an alternative, try adding three drops of Lavender, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Rose, or Frankincense aromatherapy oils, which can help calm your mind and heal your body.
Calm down: Ainsworths anti-stress formula—a must for every handbag, pocket, and first-aid kit. A unique remedy, specially formulated for emotional crisis and extreme fear, is invaluable for the prevention and relief of everyday pressure and stress.
Soothing muscles: Balsamka is a soothing muscle balm and a natural alternative to tiger balm which you can massage on the muscle or joint every night before bedtime to relieve your pain locally and encourage healing. Balsamka contains menthol, clove oil, and camphor.
Daily exercise: Try to find an hour a day to strengthen your muscles. The stronger your body feels the better you will be able to handle any pain. Transform your body and energize yourself with Metamorphosis by Tracy Anderson, a 9-pack DVD filled with transforming muscular structure work, cardio component, and a dynamic eating plan.
Own your pain
When women experience low back pain they have to ask themselves whether the pain is linked to muscle strain, pain from sitting at the office, or disc problems. Could it be their ovaries? Their period? Is the pain coming from the kidney area? It is at this stage that you need to stop and think. Think about how you have been treating your body. Have you had a smear, a swab, or a scan recently? When was the last time you went to see your gynecologist? You may realize that the last time you had an appointment was last year but that you had to miss it to catch a flight and never had the time to make another appointment. In simple terms: you have neglected to listen to the signs and the back ache is your body’s way of sending you a message that something else is going on. It is asking you to solve the mystery. Neck and shoulder tension is another common complaint made by my patients. In most cases, although the pain manifests itself in a physical way, the root of the problem is predominantly emotional. Those of us experiencing these types of pain have to listen to our body and then have an introspective moment. What could be causing this pain? Am I feeling anger or fear? Insecurity perhaps? Could it be that the bonus you were expecting never came? Does that make you feel inadequate? Does it leave you feeling scared about you and your family’s future? Does it leave you feeling out of control? Are you having sleepless nights? All of these emotions have a compounding effect which ultimately triggers the physical shoulder and neck pain. It has a domino effect. One emotion leads to another and then another and it all accelerates, becomes overwhelming, and collapses into a physical ache. Emotions in themselves are a normal part of life and are neither good nor bad. For example, feeling angry and frustrated can be a motivating factor to make major positive life changes. Problems start not because of the nature of an emotion but because, unchecked, emotional build up can become excessive and affect the organs and cause disharmony within the body.
Neck Pain Physical Symptoms: Disc disease or osteoporosis (loss of bone density). Emotional Source: Fear of life and insecurity; too much to cope with; life overload.
Low Back Pain in Men Physical Symptoms: Sciatica, prostate or kidney stones, colon. Emotional Source: Anger issues, stress of unsatisfying job/home life.
Acute Mid-Back Pain/Shoulder Level Physical Symptoms: Poor circulation, liver condition, anemia, or low blood pressure. Emotional Source: Feeling anxious, palpitations, difficulty in sleeping; fear of the future.
Low Back Pain in Women Physical Symptoms: Ovaries, pelvic disorder. (Remember: scan, smear, or swab regularly.) Emotional Source: Loss of power, buried emotions.
—Vicky Vlachonis is an osteopath and mother of two. Vicky graduated from the British School of Osteopathy and obtained her Master’s degree from the European School of Osteopathy. Vicky is registered with General Osteopathic Council and the British Medical Acupuncture Association. Her book, The Body Doesn’t Lie, came out in 2014.
Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch—partners both in life and in work—are the two geniuses behind the design firm Roman & Williams. Which means they're the two geniuses behind some of New York's most compelling spaces.