Our Approach is Integrative
Central to an integrative approach to healthcare is the idea that everything is connected and that the most effective treatment of any condition needs to take into account all or some of a whole range of physical, mental, social and spiritual factors. It isn’t necessarily different from a ‘well practised’ Western Medical approach and it doesn’t exclude it. For us Integrative healthcare is simply inclusive healthcare, focusing on the whole person and making use of any appropriate approaches and disciplines to achieve whatever optimal health is for you.
There is a widespread consensus that lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, drinking alcohol and coffee play a key role in our health. Remember how you felt the day after a big party! Too much drink, food and maybe cigarettes leave traces behind. When it comes to lifestyle, the key word is energy. After a big party, our body needs to work harder to compensate for these excesses. We have less energy to enjoy the day. However, we believe that “lifestyle factors” should also include meaningful relationships, rewarding activities, sleeping pattern etc. In other words, all the elements in our life which give us energy or deprive us of energy! Indeed, our whole way of life has a bearing on how we feel and how we experience illnesses. For many people having MS can lead to the end of meaningful relationships or not being able to do rewarding activities. It can also lead to a change of career, a loss of revenue, break-ups or tensions within the family. All these elements are “draining”, “tiring” physically, financially and emotionally… They leave us with less energy to live well with MS. It is thus crucial to adapt our lifestyle in such a way as to regain balance. Although we might not always be able to make symptoms disappear by changing our lifestyle, we certainly can improve the quality of our life by making sure that we keep enough energy. At Taming the Walrus, we believe that this is possible if we integrate yoga, mindfulness and an appropriate diet in our daily routine.
And at the same time neuroscientists now agree that our brains are not as we once thought, largely unchanged once we reach adulthood. In fact quite the opposite is true. Our brains are plastic, and continually adapt and change the way they are wired in response to new experiences. This understanding has led to an unprecedented level of scientific interest into ways we can change how we think about things – or relate to our experience and what impact this may have on the way our bodies function. Ie. How healthy we are.
Over the last 30 years there have been several remarkable breakthroughs in a neuroscience which have completely changed our understanding of how the brain works, how it interacts with our bodies, and the effect this interaction has on our health and wellbeing. These groundbreaking studies, made possible by the advancement in our ability to see what is happening inside our heads, are revealing extraordinary evidence that, for example, how stressed we are effects how quickly we age; or how traumatic events effect our immune systems, or how this effect on on our immune system can actually be reversed by doing exercise. There are even studies that have shown how optimistic people age slower than others! These new insights have largely been realised through the work of Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD and others looking at the role of telomeres in aging.
We believe that people with MS should actively engage in the management of their health. This doesn’t mean they should ignore their doctor’s recommendations or start self-medicating. But rather that they should keep informed, attentive to their own health and collaborate to ensure they are well cared for.
It sounds evident but is it really? There is so much pressure. How often have you read or heard about this miracle cure or this fantastic new medicine? Friends, family, colleagues or other people with MS might have told you about them. How to decide?
We believe that we all have the answer. Deep down, within ourselves, we know what is best for us and we should act on it!
Taming the Walrus offers suggestions that have been proven to work well for a lot of people. We would like to invite you to try them and then decide for yourself. You might then decide that yoga is not the right thing for you or that a low saturated fat is not adequate. And this is completely fine!
Taming the Walrus is a journey of self-discovery, a riddle that each of us has to solve. Who knows better than you how to solve it?
Living with MS is a challenge but we believe that feeling part of a community makes it easier. The aim is not just to share our fears, pain, anxieties – although this is sometimes useful – but to share ideas, tips and knowledge. Maybe we could all share the best advice we were ever given so we all benefit from these pieces of advice. Or we could exchange recipes, recommend books or movies. Anything that helps living well with MS.
However, we believe the community should also welcome people who don’t have MS but are interested, professionally or personally. Everybody is welcome and has a role to play in Taming the Walrus. Veronique remembers once writing a post on her personal blog about the challenges of living with MS. A teenager read it and thanked her, saying that now, if a friend of hers was diagnosed, she would feel ready to help!
We are convinced that we all have a lot to gain from being part of a community,
Evidence-based from scientific studies and personal experience
We are not medical doctors. We are people living with MS who, for many years, have explored ways to improve our quality of life and we want to share our findings.
Véronique’s experience as a person living with MS and as a yoga teacher has given her a privileged opportunity to experiment on herself.
For instance, in the context of her advanced teacher training in India, she conducted a mini research project to evaluate the impact of certain yogic techniques on specific MS symptoms. She also follows a low saturated fat diet as recommended by Dr Jelinek in the Overcoming MS program and practises Mindfulness meditation. She is convinced that adopting the Taming the Walrus approach helps her stay healthy and enjoy life with MS.
In order to find out whether her experience was unique, we have reviewed – and keep reviewing – literature on this subject. What we found out is that her personal experience corroborates the findings of numerous research projects that were carried out by neurologists, yoga therapists, nutritionists etc. We will share the results of these research projects in our blog so you can also learn from them.