Spatial Medicine: Origins

This very morning I was joking in our training class about “The Year of the…”

“The Year of the…” is an important element of bodywork practice (or really nearly any craft).

After your first apprenticeship to your craft – let’s stay with bodywork here, so after your education as a massage therapist, physio, chiropractor, yoga or athletic trainer of any sort – it takes a while just to master the externals of practice, and a longer while – more like Gladwell’s 10,000 hours – to embody your art.

During those initial years, it is common to make new discoveries: “It’s the feet!, Everything stands on the feet – get the feet right and everything will come right!” Yes, they do, but no it won’t. The feet are an essential part of the picture, but not the be-all and end-all..Nevertheless, allow yourself your enthusiasms. This is your Year of the Feet – you’ll learn a lot about feet and how they work, and sooner or later that stream will have run its course, and you’ll be (I was) off to my next one: “It’s the breath! Everything starts with the pulse of the breath – get the breath right and magical healing happens. And then it’s Cranial, and then Visceral – and gradually your “Year of the…” enthusiasms add up to not just accumulated knowledge, but a new synthesis. Get going – explore your ‘answers’, but be ready for more questions.

In any case, it does not stop. My own “Year of the…” in this, my 42nd year of practice, is “We’re made of cells! How do 70 trillion fairly autonomous machines function together to produce the phenomena we call ‘Tom’?”

This question turns out to be anything but simple, and it underlies the question of our interventions, and it is foundational to my concept of ‘Spatial Medicine’ – What can we do to foster good health by changing structural and functional shapes? To answer that question, we need to know what cells can do, how they convey what kind of information to each other, and what particular pressures and stretches and movements evoke in cells.

This being Spatial Medicine, I am particularly interested in the intracellular structure, the ‘muscles and bones’ of the cytoskeleton, as this is the progenitor and builder of the ‘exoskeleton’ of our fascial webbing.

One of the difficulties has been in understanding just how our kind of cells (eukaryotes) managed to build this complex structure in the first place, since neither the bacteria nor protista could ever quite manage it.

The discovery of Loki bridges the gap – read this to see how out ancestral cells – archaea, not protista – incorporated the smaller to build the skeleton for the complex and versatile cellular structure your own 70 trillion enjoy today.

Just one more lesson in inclusion and cooperation from biology – would that our politics…