The work of Solihin Thom, DO (UK) DAc
Ontology is a philosophical model that studies “being”: a fully functioning, autonomous, alive state. Ontological Kinesiology is the neurophysiological understanding of muscle function in relation to body feedback. The use of hand modes, or mudras (a sign language, of sorts) provides a language for a practitioner to “read” a client’s situation in which to better help them realize their goals.
Kinetic (muscle) feedback provides information from ones conscious and unconscious selves—revealing the root cause of a dysfunction; providing understanding as to why a particular state manifests; and gaining the support needed to change the dynamics that prevented change in the first place.
Adaptation—a term used in physiology to describe a process that also exists in nature—is a positive quality that ensures survival, yet over time may become so “particular” to the organism that it becomes limiting and perhaps even fatal. Consider a fir tree on the Oregon coast that is continually battered by the relentless Pacific wind. Over time, the fir adapts to this environment and takes on a distinctive look: its limbs and trunk shaped by the continual winds, leaning away, their facing edges bare yet armored.
We, too, adjust our posture or stance, indicating that we have adapted to a particular condition, except that our adaptation is often unseen until a specialist observes a scoliosis, a short leg, a hidden and obscure allergic reaction, an eczema, or some other peculiarity that we have simply lived with.
Adaptation ceases to be functional when these unseen elements take power and our physiology becomes altered. It is then that we cannot adapt any further.
This adaptive process often begins with birth traumas, which are subtly imprinted upon our body and head. As common as these traumas are, often cranial osteopaths or craniosacral therapists are the only professionals who will notice such structural adaptations.
Ontological Kinesiology allows us to go beneath the adaptation to look at the “wind” that has adversely affected our wellbeing. Although it may take several sessions to unravel the altered dynamics that obstruct a client’s health, we are nonetheless able to address these problems along the way. Thus the human self, armed with knowledge, can begin to make positive changes base upon this new understanding. The client’s story unfolds chronologically, with the practitioner seeking the root cause of the dysfunction while simultaneously “naming” the problem while elaborating upon and supporting all of the systems that have adapted to it over time.
What is the nature of being? This enduring question has intrigued philosophers and the religious for millennia and—in the process—birthed the science of ontology. This and other new scientific disciplines effectively attempt to look at the root sources of human issues—naming them and placing them in some order. Ad Humanitas has done the same, using kinesiology as a feedback mechanism to access information stored in our bodies and beings.
Hand modes or mudras act as another communication tool: gestures complex in form mediated through our somatosensory and somatomotor cortex. In plain English, they appear to mirror the “shape” of thoughts, ideas, or aspects of consciousness. Hand modes could be likened to a sign language that the body is able to interpret and give response to. This response can be illustrated through kinetics (muscle integrity), arm or leg length, local nervous system reflexes, discomfort, or through a feeling or emotion. The body’s varied mechanisms “speak” to us: the modes themselves acting as language rich in metaphor that—when combined—create a storyboard that allows the client to see the complexity, depth, and origins of their particular issue.
It may take more than several sessions to fully reveal this storyboard, but as we are able to name the specific underlying issues, we can begin to make informed choices based on this new understanding.
The story unfolds chronologically, seeking its root and yet sometimes widening the pathway so that a session not only reveals the ending of the “story,” but elaborates upon the systems that have adapted over time, displaying this adaptation as history.
Part Three, The fractured self and the search for being
Tempered by a largely agrarian society, Chinese physicians made empirical observations of illness and disease through the observation of natural forces and their effect upon humans. The environment and other factors viewed normally as external to us appeared often to be factors in our illness. These physicians observed that these same elements existed in the body, and—seeing this as a microcosm of everything else—looked upon the body itself as the source of why we become susceptible to external factors.
Modern medicine is beginning to agree with these ancient ideas, noting that lifestyle issues often temper our natural adaptability. These issues stress our systems beyond reason, disempowering us by lowering our immunity and natural defenses, making us more susceptible to bacteria, viruses and fungi. Our internal support is sapped by largely unseen or unacknowledged forces and amplified by the “switching on” of dysfunctional familial patterns. Our family’s ills now become ours as we manifest unwanted inherited traits or proclivities.
Alternative approaches such as naturopathy, herbal medicine, nutritional supplementation and aromatherapy focus on nourishing the body so that other systems in the body are not as stressed, allowing for repair. Some practices—such as massage and body work—try to pacify and release the stress held in the soma, while others—namely acupuncture, Tai chi, acupressure and homeopathy—try to stimulate the flow of subtle energy. Osteopathy, chiropractic, physical therapy, and craniosacral therapy use manipulation to reorganize the noisy circuitry of our nervous system, while psychotherapy uses talk, drama, gestalt, and recall to bring mindfulness and managerial resources back to an ailing system. Still other healing practices such as past life regression, reiki, and shamanic healing use more subtle forms of healing to alter the unseen element that plague a human being.
When the approach is pharmaceutical, the effect is akin to a farmer confronted with sick soil and applying artificial herbicides and fungicides in an attempt to nourish his land. When we take copious nutritional supplements, it’s much like heaping extra fertilizer upon exhausted soil.
Dependant upon individual expertise, a practitioner often simply supports the exhausted tissues to rally and fight infection, malaise, disease, or psychic disturbances. These approaches—whether classical or alternative—provide and support the basic energies of the body to help it readapt and reorganize, summoning the body’s recuperative powers.
Psychotherapy or work employing a mind-body synthesis is a more human approach to dysfunction as the body stores enormous amounts of memory within its soma or tissues. Good talk therapy can elicit, over time, memories and stored emotions, unresolved conflicts, shadows, and metaphorical skeletons in the cupboard.
Many people are literally saved by these interventions, just as many people are saved by medications or by intensely focusing upon the body’s specific ills, as in massage or reiki. Every therapist is, essentially, applying a practice that has touched them in some way and—as a result—have an innate belief that their specialty, their touch, their expert diagnosis, or their prescription will help.
Fortunately healing occurs at many levels, and so in the development of human healing, many modalities have sprung forth from the fertile imaginations and passionate innovations of health pioneers. They all serve a niche, as does ontology.
Ontology is not for everyone. Although, like all therapy, it serves a purpose for those seeking insight into their unique sickness or dysfunction. These people search for the root of a problem, asking the question “why?” but not stopping when their diagnosis is named conventionally. For us to elicit new resources and shed off old skins, we need to understand how we function.
Ontology provides such an understanding, and—in the process—both answers and also sometimes poses deeper questions through supporting the body and its story in its unfolding. The hand modes themselves appear to change the brain waves of the client, altering consciousness, and thus altering the whole neuroendocrinal axis.
Part Four, The fractured self and the search for being
The words “element” and “atom” were synonymous in early Greek thought, seen as the smallest units. The Chinese later narrowed the physical world down to five essential elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Here in the western world, we have the periodic table, listing over 94 naturally occurring—and a number of man-made—elements.
At one level, it doesn’t really matter how we name things as long as we understand that this drive to “name” is an attempt to differentiate what elements are present. Likewise, we want to do the same for our illness or dysfunction: to name it and then understand its root cause and why it affects us the way it does.
Many years ago I was in Peshawar, in the northern part of Pakistan, and I routinely ate from a street stall in this bustling, pre-fundamentalist city of the 1960s. I had lived and eaten from the streets for months and never had an upset stomach. This time, however, was different. I should have been warned by the kitchen waalah (boy) as he clapped his hands over pots of food, startling swarms of flies that flew off the uniformly black coated open pots—only then revealing the glorious colors of the foods he was cooking!
That night—unsurprising, in retrospect–I had violent diarrhea and visited the squalid “hole” many times. By morning I was fine. Of course my body was doing the right thing, eliminating all that could further poison me. But my friends who had lived in the streets of Afghanistan and Pakistan for was long as I had no such problems. What was the difference? I hadn’t had a bout of food-related illness since I was an eight year-old in Beirut.
I have been privileged to have lived and traveled to many countries and have eaten everything everywhere: old food, discarded food, food that I shouldn’t have touched…but I never had a reaction like I did that night. Why? Was it simply my European mind suddenly seeing “germs”? Was it more than my normally robust constitution could handle? Was it that I couldn’t neutralize the invading pathogens so hostile in my gut? The answer is “yes,” but it was my mental state at that moment that allowed the specter of germs to invade my mind.
You might sensibly ask what about malaria, dengue fever, e-coli, flu, measles, colds, coughs, backaches, psoriasis or eczema? Where do they all spring from? What about the shoulder that freezes due to the wind? The ache we wake up with in our lower back that wasn’t there the night before? How about the ague that appears out of the blue and the headache that slowly, painfully comes into being? How do we explain these illnesses and conditions? Are they all just in the mind?
The answer is yes and no.
The mind is an organ intimately and symbiotically connected with every part of the body. It’s our interpreter of experiences, as well as the instigator of repair. The brain also houses our consciousness, and it is this prevailing mindfulness that opens or closes the paths of illness and dysfunction.
We may inherit a tendency or live in an environment that fosters illness—a state of poverty with a scarcity of healthy food, or an emotional poverty caused by emotional loss or absence that has us turning to tobacco, drugs, or junk food for comfort. These all stress the system and alter how we operate, making us vulnerable to a host of unwelcome illnesses as our natural immunity, strength, and vigor become impaired.
Part Five, The fractured self and the search for being
Ontology is, in essence, the opportunity to look at the elements that aren’t seen but which allow the mind to seed illness. It “hears” the body as it complains of its pains and upsets, yet listens deep down of the underlying issues that need to be relinquished.
The body presents us with allergies because it is the only way it can tell us that it is irritated with something. The television screen of our body either becomes mute—in that we cease to hear its true cry—or is muted by medicine that subdues the irritation but not the root cause.
We have been gifted with these marvelous bodies, extraordinary brains and boundless spirits—each unique with individual talents, feelings, actions, and in how elements influence us. As we work, you will be amazed at how your personal story unravels: sometimes with mystery, wonder, and often delight as you see your story mirror your intuition. Your understanding will be irrevocably widened, and you will be amazed at and grateful for your body—its innate wisdom and how it serves you.
This story come from you and is a way that you can communicate your own history, your own adaptation, and point toward a satisfying resolution. We use the tools of this work as resources: for delineating, differentiating, and—ultimately—interpreting with you what your human body, your human being, is really, truly telling you.
For more articles and papers relating to different therapies and concepts, click here.