The healing arts involve a complex range of skills which each practitioner draws together in a unique way. These skills, attitudes and perspectives complement the scientific basis underpinning each discipline to create the wisdom and artistry of any therapeutic approach.
The practice of osteopathy is no exception. It involves a growing field of scientific knowledge in physics and biology that couples with an extraordinary range of human qualities to give the work depth, as well as relevance, and which can be tailored to the individual patient holistically and with compassion.
At the Still Point of the Turning World examines and explores both the art and the science of osteopathy through the eyes and approach of a devoted teacher and practitioner. The true value of holism, vitalism and osteopathic principles are discussed as part of the approach that each practitioner brings to the patient/practitioner relationship.
Watch an interview with the author conducted by Gez Lamb, in which Robert Lever talks about the book and about his philosophy of osteopathy.
1 Osteopathy: an overview
2 The Vital quality of Motion
3 Holism and the osteopathic ‘lens’
4 Reciprocity, Relationship, Spaces
5 From Mainstream to ‘Cranial’: continuum or quantum leap?
The Art of It
6 Subjectivity and ‘the dance’
7 The Intelligent Fulcrum: palpation and thought on the move
8 The Healing….’if it comes at all, it comes from within’
9 Beyond Technique: meeting the lesion
10 Placebo and Ritual
11 R and D, Safety and the ‘Evidence’ myth
Philosophy and the Practitioner
12 The Human Spirit: adaptability, self-correction and survival
13 Divine Chaos: direction, meaning, mystery and the healing state
14 The exquisite nature of Paradox
15 Epilogue: tying it together: Spirit, humanity and the art of practice
What the Reviewers Say
This is the book of a seasoned teacher and practitioner and is not written or intended as a textbook. It is both concise and readable and has a sensible layout that fits Lever’s concept with distinct subheadings and summaries at the end of chapters. It is also refreshingly well referenced without charging the text.
Lever has inherited a map from A T Still, William Sutherland and Rollin Becker, which he introduces and frequently refers back to, and which shows with vigour the value of reassessing, reviewing and questioning what we do in light of Still’s visionary work. There is nothing tired about the writing even though much of the science and contemporary influences are familiar to holistic practitioners: Quantum Theory, Systems Theory, Chaos Theory and the work of Mae Wan Ho, Ingber, Sheldrake, Oschman, etc.
Robert Lever comes across as a warm-hearted, gifted practitioner and teacher. The book is clearly aimed at osteopaths but we (CST practitioners) share a resonance with one another, a basic principle of accessing the ‘health’ and in so doing assisting in the process of resolution, which is profound and complex.
The first third of this book introduces a historical context and the osteopathic principles shared by all osteopaths and the concept of Holism. The centre of the book introduces the Cranial Model, which Lever talks about as an Art, with reference to the nature of subjective experience, the ‘Intelligent’ fulcrum and the art of palpation, placebos and the need to establish our own ways of evaluating what we do. Lastly, he shifts gear and brings more heart into the writing as he talks of paradox and divine chaos and bringing it together as spirit, humanity and the art of practice.
The questions that came forward for me as a CST practitioner are:
Lever’s language is straightforward and clear and I wonder whether CST has been around long enough to reconsider our shared language and shared principles. What is our starting point? Still, Sutherland, Becker or Upledger?
How much have we and our teachers ‘put behind the curtain’* that we might look at again with fresh eyes and ears?
If Robert Lever stars with a road map, what does our map look like?
(*A phrase from Rollin Becker)
Elissa Dell in The Fulcrum (September 2014,journal of the Craniosacral Therapy Assocation)
“This is a unique text. It contains a remarkable mix. The scientific perspectives have probably never [before] been gathered together in one place. This is priceless, and makes the book essential reading for the intelligent osteopath. “ Harold S Klug DO, Osteopathy practitioner, London, UK.
“For those who have ears to listen and eyes to read it will probably become the most inspiring osteopathic book of their lives and careers!” Paolo Tozzi MSc Ost FT, Osteopathy teacher, Italy.
“This book is long overdue and is a contribution to osteopathic thought and philosophy which has never before been so eloquently stated.” Gerald Lamb BSc(Lond) DO, Osteopathy Practitioner, London, UK and International Lecturer.
“[This book] will become a classic text of ‘must reads’ for those who think…..” Nicholas Handoll DO MSCC, Osteopathy practitioner, Hereford UK.
Can you recommend a book that I should read before I start? It is a question I am often asked by would-be students on the cusp of the College of Osteopaths degree course in osteopathy. A difficult one to answer. The book that most new entrants crave is entitled How to be an Osteopath . It is packed with easy to read chapters and images explaining each of the techniques in the osteopath s toolkit: step by step guidance to competency. This book does not exist. Neither does the DVD. In Robert Lever s words to his students I cannot teach you how to do osteopathy…but what I will try to do is plant enough seeds of thought and orientation that the skills, attitudes and approach will begin to develop in you such that you can make the craft your own…. As Lever wryly notes, the more mature and patient students can accept this, the others fume with frustration. Although relatively slim, the Lever opus At the Still Point of the Turning World was 40 years in the making. The design on the front cover evokes the iconic prism and rainbow emblem of Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, and reminds us that when this album was released in 1973, a young Robert Lever was just setting out in his osteopathic career. That it took the author so long to make sense of osteopathy might give a clue to the book s scope and depth. Challenging concepts are swiftly unpacked one after the other and deftly fitted together into a 3D matrix: holism, reciprocity, quantum theory, tensegrity, placebo, ritual, chaos, paradox, the intelligent fulcrum…..There is certainly the sense of a turning world: it is like watching a scrambled Rubik cube being snapped into order at full pelt. To attempt it in a single sitting could be akin to unwittingly harnessing oneself into a seat on Smiler at Alton Towers. A rush of intensity. One could imagine the uninitiated reader stepping off at the end feeling unsteady and slightly unwell. This book should be right at the top of the reading list for any aspiring osteopath. —
Elizabeth Elander, Head of Programme Operations, College of Osteopaths
No matter where you are in the world, if you are an osteopath, osteopathic physician, a patient of one of the foregoing, or a faculty member of an osteopathic training institution, the philosophy of osteopathy has confronted you at some point. For those involved in some way with the professions of osteopathic medicine or osteopathy, the Lever book is most helpful in refining and developing one’s own thoughts about osteopathic philosophy. As one who has taken a crack at writing about osteopathic philosophy myself, certain thoughts came to my mind as I read along, “I couldn’t have said it better myself,” and “My-my, I never looked at that idea in quite that way before.” The reader will be rewarded with an enriched data base and perspective on osteopathic philosophy.
R. Paul Lee, DO, FAAO, FCA observes in the Foreword that Robert Lever writes from a “British perspective,” but his is a truly universal osteopathic perspective. Regardless of the degree or initials one has after their name, or on which side of the Atlantic Ocean one resides, a critical contribution to osteopathic philosophy and to the understanding of the cranial concept in osteopathic medicine is made in this book. It is not a fast read as the integration of relevant philosophical ideas such as from Quantum Physics is placed alongside and melded into Sutherland’s formulation of the Five Phenomena of the Primary Respiratory Mechanism.
Juicy and thought provoking discussions are had throughout the various chapters. One of my favorites is in the chapter titled “Reciprocity, Relationship, Spaces.” Lever states, “…the concept of interconnectedness, or reciprocity of function, is not anathema to conventional medical theorists. It is simply that so often, the therapeutic approach that is implemented is extremely targeted and linear, and in this sense, the body is not always treated with respect to its unity.” Lever holds that osteopathy, and I also maintain osteopathic medicine, contributes the necessary professional service to better healthcare delivery in any context and should be allowed, yes even encouraged, to be more widely taught in all venues or professions which purport to treat the human condition.
This reviewer recommends the book to any physician or healthcare practitioner anywhere in the world, especially if that practitioner uses their hands in delivery of healthcare. For the discerning American Academy of Osteopathy member or subscriber who may already be conversant with the international osteopathic publications, this book may already be in their library. It is hoped that this review begins the process of providing a greater international flavor to the offerings of the American Academy of Osteopathy Bookstore and expands the mindset of USA osteopathic physicians to a fuller, more complete world of osteopathic literature.
Review by Hollis King, DO – April 2014