All posts by Matt Wallden

GDPR notice: Bare, Buttocks & Breasts

As you’re probably aware, GDPR is upon us, and so this page is here to serve as a thank you to all those who have signed up to be part of my tribe in the past, and to act as a taster to those who may like to sign up for future updates and events.

As a thank you, I am making one of my professional webinar series available for free through until Sunday 2nd June here.

The title, Bare, buttocks and breasts may be controversial, but the content should be thought provoking and informative.  I hope you enjoy it…

Any feedback is most welcome!

If the link doesn’t work in your browser, you can go direct to our Vimeo page here.

MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!   … if you’re keen to receive notices on future webinars, events or products  -and occasional useful health & performance tips – pop your details on the form below and we’ll stay in touch!  Thanks again.


Barefoot Legend Bruce Tulloh Dies

Bruce Tulloh, former European 5000m champion and Barefoot legend passed away this week at the age of 82.  Tributes to him and his life’s achievements can be found all over the web already.

Bruce Tulloh (Credit: Athletics Weekly)

I first met Bruce in 2011 when, in my then-role as Vibram’s UK distributor of Fivefingers footwear, we were at the London Marathon Exhibition and an old man was loitering around our stand picking up various Vibram Fivefinger shoes, flexing them, turning them, smiling, shaking his head and laughing.

After a few moments I went over to him and asked if he had seen the product before.  He said he hadn’t but, in his typically modest style, explained that he “used to run a bit barefoot”…

Subsequently he explained that he had won the European 5000m championships running barefoot in 1962, and that his name was Bruce Tulloh!

As you can imagine I was shocked, pleasantly surprised and slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of him (1962 was a bit before my time… at least that’s my excuse)!!

We gave Bruce a pair of Vibrams to trial out and give us some feedback on.  You can see some of that feedback in an interview we did with him here:

Unfortunately, after over an hour of discussion, we realised that our second camera had a technical failure, and because we shot the video in the garden, around 4 minutes in, a helicopter flew over masking the sound… so we never actually used the video.

Now Bruce has run off, barefoot no doubt, to explore new dimensions, I felt it would be a fitting tribute to share some of his story and to also recommend some of his books for aspiring runners that can be found (as always) on Amazon, or from his own site here.

I’m sure the apparent irony of the title of his last book won’t be lost on many readers, but I think the point here is he did a pretty darned good job at it for 82 years…  If it’s not the years in the life but the life in the years, Bruce certainly hit a level of attainment to inspire many others to live a fuller, happier, healthier life and, as Eckart Tolle says:

“Life is not the opposite of death…  Birth is the opposite of death.

Life just is.”

Keep on running Bruce – thanks for inspiring us all.

Reconciling the Divides

In this Information Age, the sheer volume of research, publication and change in ideas can leave us bewildered and confused…

What once we based our professional opinions on, and seemingly helped patients with is debased by new research and we are left either defending our old position or wondering if we need to completely change our way of working, of being.

In this series, Jator and I will be focusing on reconciling some of these divides – looking at topics from posture and biomechanics, to nutrition and exercise prescription.  We will investigate how the body responds to stress, and what we can do about it… is “Adrenal Fatigue” really a thing or is it a figment of the imagination?

These interactive iWEbinars will elucidate many of the questions you have and allow you to reconcile the older information with the new, providing tools and insights into how to sift through the incoming barrage of information and change.

The iWEbinars are £19 (~$27) each, or you can attend all 4 for £68 (~$97) as a package.

The first in our series is “What’s Your Stance? Controversies of posture, measurement & the trend toward pain neuroscience

We are offering a free taster Preview of the series on Sunday 11th March 2018 here.

 

Real Barefoot Conditioning

How do I safely transition from running shoes to barefoot?

This post is designed to give you the most accurate answer to the big barefoot question

“How long does it take to transition?”

The more a shoe looks like a foot, the more it behaves like a foot

This question is a perennially challenging question to answer accurately as everyone has a different history, a different level of health and performance and a different goal.

The short (and responsible) answer is that it will take between 6-18 months for you to transition, as this is the reported duration for connective tissue adaptation to occur.  However, for some people this journey will be a little longer, and for others it will be shorter; and of course, this can all change based on your diligence.

For simplicity, the foot can be described as having 3 primary components:

1) the passive system (bones / joints / ligaments / tendons / fascia)

2) the active system (muscles – intrinsic within the foot & extrinsic running down from the leg)

3) the neural system (the sensory nerves coming from the foot & motor nerves running to the foot)

When each of these components is functioning optimally and in harmony, then you will have a stable, healthy, fully functional foot.

In our experience – and based on research, for most people, the nervous (neural) system reacts almost instantaneously to a lack of cushioning (assuming the surface you’re running on is hard) to produce a forefoot strike.

The active system will typically take between 8-12 weeks for adaptation to the new running technique.

The passive system (bones/connective tissues) are, by their nature, passive; and therefore have a relatively limited blood supply compared to muscles.  This means their ability to adapt is a lot slower, and will take between 6-18 months.

The Barefoot Transition Guide below (a downloadable Excel file) should give you a good basic insight into how long it will take you to transition, but first you must establish your goal.  Is it to run a 5K barefoot?  Is it to run a marathon?  Is it to do resistance training in the gym in minimalist shoes?  Or to play full round of golf in your minimalist golf shoes?  There are as many possible goals as there are people (and probably more)!  Please think about what your initial goal is as you wait for your computer to download the questionnaire.  You can always revisit the process if your goal changes.

My initial barefoot goal is to…                                                                                       

 

Barefoot-Transition-Guide

 

General Transition Advice:

 The best runner leaves no tracks” Tao Te Ching

Always Never
… take your time to transition (months rather than weeks) … think you can run your normal distance at first
… remember, the more injured, fatigued, or deconditioned you are, the longer it will take … assume because you’re already a forefoot striker you can adapt instantly
… listen to what your body is telling you; pain is an indicator to STOP! … stop paying attention to the ground beneath your feet
… start at 10% of your normal distance / volume and progress by up to 10% per week-to-fortnight … forget, delayed onset muscle soreness peaks 48 jours after your workout
… run as if you were barefoot – even in minimalist shoes … run in Vibram Fivefingers before you’ve worn them daily for 2 weeks
… run silently … run through pain
… consult an expert if you have any concerns about your transition  

… leave tracks

 

To see this section discussed by Matt Wallden in video format in more detail, please click here.

We recommend to all runners to download a copy of barefoot audio’s album Towards Vertical here.

If you scored high in Section B or you know you have a tendency to over-pronate conditioning tips, please visit here and scroll to the “Bonus Material” at the bottom of the page (here you will find a free video called “Overpronation – or inhibition & deconditioning”).

Other Resources:

There are also paid-for webinars on the same link as above discussing Barefoot Running and The Pronation Myth.  Further resources to understand more about abdominal wall function / core stability, hip function, and nutrition & lifestyle factors that can influence your progress, can be found on the linked pages.

What to do next?

Look at your higher scoring responses (the blue and purple column scores in Section A / the responses to the right hand side in Section B) and address these issues first.  If it’s easier, feel free to copy & print this section off: 

Influencing factor Considerations Tick if you scored 2+
1) Injury history

(major or recurrent injuries)

A higher level of injuries in your medical history indicates either a susceptibility to injury and/or an increased likelihood of adoption of compensatory movement patterns.  If you score high here, consider seeing a movement specialist such as a C.H.E.K. Practitioner, a higher-end personal trainer / strength & conditioning coach, or a manual therapist specialised in sports conditioning.
2) Current injury(ies)

(including “niggles”)

If you have current injuries or niggles, these should be diagnosed and their causative path identified by a manual therapist or movement specialist (see above).  Any niggle or pain you perceive will alter your muscle firing and coordination, decreasing efficiency and increasing risk of future injury.
3) Nutritional Status Nutrition is not only key for fuel, but perhaps more importantly, for repair.  Any new stressor the body isn’t yet conditioned for increases the damage rate and the requirement for repair.  Compromised nutrition will result in compromised capacity to adapt to new stressors, such as a barefoot lifestyle.  If you feel your nutrition is suboptimal, consider consulting a metabolic typing nutritional advisor, a holistic lifestyle coach, or a naturopath (see resources below).
4) Hydration Status If your hydration may be a problem consider the following: drinking approximate 200ml for every 1 stone of bodyweight, 30ml for every kg, or in fluid ounces – half your bodyweight (in pounds).  Be aware of diuretics, such as coffee, alcohol and high sugar / caffeinated drinks. Aside from this, consider that a high quality sea salt sprinkled to taste on your food may be important to facilitate hydration (it is sodium that actually holds fluids in the body, but is often excreted at high rates due to consumption of diuretics, such as coffee)
5) Sleep patterns Like all organisms, human physiology is tightly tuned to the light-dark cycles of the planet.  Primary repair occurs during sleep – and especially during the first half of the night (peaking between 22:00-2:00am).  If you consistently miss this period of sleep and/or have disturbed sleep, consider the following measures: 1) minimize any stimulants after midday, 2) assess your metabolic type (eating the wrong food ratios, such as too many carb’s, in the evening can compromise sleep), 3) ensure you are sleeping in complete darkness, 4) get exposure to daylight (and exercise) early in the day, 5) minimize alcohol consumption, 6) try a dawn simulator / light alarm clock, 7) avoid exposure to computer screens / mobile phones / TV’s beyond 8pm, 8) dim your lights in the evening.
6) Breathing pattern Breathing pattern reflects (and perpetuates) underlying physiological stressors.  If you have challenges with stress, anxiety, panic attacks, asthma or breathing pattern, consider building a relaxation discipline into your routine; such as yoga, general stretching, T’ai chi, Xi gong, zone exercises, a hot bath, or simply a slow walk.  Relaxing music, aromatherapy oils, such as lavender and teas, such as camomile, can be useful tools here.
7) Training Age (years) Training age is the amount of time you have been training for this specific discipline, without any significant break.  If your training age is low, it is an indicator that you are not likely to be as “adapted” to the kinds of loads that barefoot training will put through your system as someone who has already been training for a while. Consistency with training is key to positive adaptation; but equally important is to build in times when training is at lower intensity, lower volume, or when you have total rest.  The body gets stronger when it rests, not when it’s training, so if you miss a training session, don’t see this as negative, but as an opportunity to be able to get stronger and to train harder next time.
8) Training History (years) If training history is low, this tends to indicate it may take a longer period to adapt, however, this is not always the case, as it also means that you have probably not picked up bad technique habits.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a low training age, consider getting a coach in your chosen sport to offer you advice at this early stage.  If you cannot access a coach, we strongly recommend Barefoot Audio to runners who are considering starting out in the barefoot / minimalist running style.  (See resources at end.)

If your lack of training history is due to a lack of desire to participate in sports, the necessity for a running coach is higher to ensure your body awareness of technique is optimized.

9) Barefoot / Minimalist History (years) The longer you’ve spent in minimalist shoes or barefoot living, the more adept you will have already become at optimising awareness, footfall, and the adaptation the connective tissues will have undergone.  If you score high here (little experience) have patience and pay attention; “listen” to each foot step as if it were a new language – asking a question of the ground, the ground responding, and you then selecting the correct response to what you perceive. For example, if the ground is telling you it is jagged, hard or pointed, you do not want to push down hard, but to switch your weight quickly to your other foot.  This is easier said than done when mid-stride and fatigued toward the end of a run.  If you can and are willing, going completely barefoot is a better learning experience than going minimally shod.  This is best done in the warmer months, starting on well lit, clear concrete surfaces and progressing to
10) Running technique Footstrike remains a controversial topic, but there is now plenty of evidence that a forefoot strike is more natural, often more efficient, and less likely to cause injury when running on firm to hard surfaces.  If you know you tend to heel-strike and/or to over-pronate, there will be a greater adaptive requirement on your body when switching to minimalist or barefoot running.  Bear in mind that you are most likely to feel this some time after you have run (usually between 24-48 hours after) and not during your run; therefore beware to take it easy in the first instance; do up to 10% of your normal distance, and see how your body reacts.  Cadence (your step rate per minute) and awareness are key consideration in optimizing foot strike.  Barefoot Audio, a free downloadable album (see resources) is a useful tool here.
11) Target use It is a very different answer to the question “how long will it take to transition” if you are planning to run a 5K versus planning to run an UltraMarathon.  If you are planning on running a longer distance (anything over 10K), it is advisable to allow a minimum of 6 months for adaptation of the connective tissues, as this is the shortest likely period within which they can adapt.  Good hydration, nutrition and sleep are all key for effective connective tissue adaptation; as well as for heavier volume training, so ensure you are drinking enough fluids, consuming enough salts (to hold fluid in the tissues) and minimizing diuretic consumption (medications / caffeinated drinks / alcohol) in your diet.  For optimal sleep, stimulants should not be consumed beyond midday, and you should aim to be in bed by around 10pm and up between 6-7am in the morning.  For more detail, see the Primal Lifestyle Barefoot Conditioning Booklet
12) Max distance to date in training A seasoned marathoner who wants to transition to minimalist or barefoot running is likely to be able to successfully transition for marathon distance quicker than someone who has only run 5K.  This is because the seasoned marathoner will have, over time, developed stronger connective tissues as a result of their superior training volumes.  The further you are from your goal, the greater patience you will need, but the rewards will be worth it!
13) Kinesthetic awareness

 

Kinesthetic awareness is your awareness or intelligence of your body.  Typically those who are aware of their body have very good movement skills, hand-eye-coordination and foot-eye-coordination; they are sporty types who are agile and dexterous.  In addition, these people tend to be very aware if something feels “tight” out of place or hypermobile in their body.  If this sounds like you, this background may help you to transition more effectively with lower risk of injury, but if it doesn’t sound like you at all, it is just a warning sign that a) it may take you a little longer to safely transition and b) you may need more tools to facilitate a smooth transition.  One of the key tools we recommend for those scoring high here is the Barefoot Audio (see resources section), which is great for anyone transitioning and helps to minimize technique faults, but the best option is to book in with a running coach.

  Resources

  • Barefoot Audio: click here to get listen to the first album Towards Vertical.
  • CHEK Practitioner: click here to find a practitioner near you.
  • HLC Coach: click here to find an HLC Coach near you.
  • Metabolic Typing (Nutritional) Advisor: click here to find a Metabolic Typing Advisor near you.

Manual Therapists

If you are searching for any of the following, they should each be registered to their Governing Bodies:

  • Osteopath – General Osteopathic Council
  • Chiropractor – General Chiropractic Council
  • Physiotherapist – Royal Charter of Physiotherapists

iWEbinar Series

For 2018, we wanted to come up with something new for Matt Wallden Webinars…

As awesome as the feedback has been from our 2016 and 2017 webinar series*, if there’s one thing I learned from my experience in distributing the Vibram Fivefingers footwear for 10 years, it was that you need to constantly develop, innovate and reinvent your product, or it starts to become dull!!

* We are still offering 3 conventional webinars this year, see here.

 What is an iWEbinar?

The iWEbinars are a fusion of podcast and webinar, providing the best of both worlds; the structure and visual engagement of a webinar, with the freedom of a discursive exploration of the subject matter between two experts in the field.

 

2018 iWEbinar Series from Matt Wallden on Vimeo.

In short an iWEbinar is an

  • interview-webinar, an
  • information-dense webinar, an
  • integrated-knowledge webinar, an
  • interactive webinar,
  • with two hosts – a WE,
  • in a webinar format…

this is an iWEbinar.

The first in our iWEbinar series is a discussion with my long-time friend and colleague, Jon Bowskill.  Jon has inhabited an elite medical space within the world of spinal rehabilitation for nearly 20 years.  After working alongside surgeons, radiologists, pain management specialists and manual therapists at the London Spine Clinic in Harley Street for several years, Jon moved around the corner and opened up his own multidisciplinary centre,  The Bowskill Clinic.

Jon and I will be discussing the various objective tools he and his colleagues utilise in top-flight practice to objectively understand what most of us can only assess subjectively; static & dynamic posture, movement skill and sagittal balance, among many other fascinating topics.

For more information or to join us on Thursday 8th of March, click here.

Other upcoming iWEbinars include a 4-part series with CHEK Faculty Member, Jator Pierre, and a 3-part iWEbinar series with Metabolic Typing founder, Bill Wolcott, plus iWEbinars with Paul Chek discussing an upcoming JBMT paper we have written called “The Ghost in the Machine – Is Musculoskeletal Medicine Lacking Soul?

How to Identify & Rehabilitate Hidden Spinal Injuries in your Clients

For most trainers working with new clients, their case history will encompass questions about a history of illness, operations and injuries… but did you know that nearly all of your clients – even those with no history of any pain or injury will have a compromise to their spinal structure that may be exacerbated by the wrong exercise selection?

Though this may seem a little scary, it is important to be aware of the reality that almost everyone you work with has these risk factors; whilst also appreciating that the human frame is very robust and has great capacity for compensation.

This being so, it is both useful to be able to identify where clients may be at risk, while also striving for more than simply “compensation”.

Matt’s perspective has always been that our role as trainers and coaches is to help our clients to realise their dreams, their goals and, in short, their fullest potential.

To be able to achieve this there are a number of simple tests and techniques that can be easily utilised to help you get the most out of your clients, and for them to get the most out of being your client!

Since the spine is the place from which movement emanates, it can be viewed as a “rate limiting factor” in human performance.  The healthier the spine, the more effective the movement patterns and force transmission it will allow.

To be able to achieve this there are a number of simple tests and techniques that can be easily utilised to help you get the most out of your clients, and for them to get the most out of being your client!

In the workshop Matt is presenting with PT toolbox on Sunday 28th January, Matt will dig in to some of the key markers you can identify in your clients to gauge their risk of spinal injury, how to prevent it, and how to rehabilitate clients not only beyond pain, but back to optimal function and performance.

For more information or to book your place, please click here.

Who is Matt Wallden?

Matt trained as an Osteopath & Naturopath in the 1990’s completing a BSc (Hons) and, later a Masters in Osteopathic Medicine, then going on to train in the CHEK System between 2001-2005.  His ambition was to work in professional sports; a goal he achieved by 2003.  Since then he has contributed several chapters to various medical texts and has been the Editor of the Rehabilitation Section  for Elsevier’s Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies since 2009.  In 2006, Matt bought an early version of the Vibram Fivefingers and was the person who explained to Vibram that their “sailing shoe” had applications in rehabilitation and conditioning.  Matt presents here and abroad to post-graduate, undergraduate and various medical groups and has been part of the CHEK Faculty since 2006.  Matt lives in Surrey with his wife and 2 children.

Conscious Nutrition

  • Challenges with stubborn weight?
  • Concerned about cholesterol?
  • Confused by which dietary advice to follow?
  • Struggling to shake off aches and pains?
  • Sick & tired of feeling sick & tired?
  • Allergies & hayfever?

Pop along to Greenwise next Thursday to get an understanding for:

– When and why alcohol can be good for you… and when to tame it

– Why a high cholesterol diet can be highly beneficial

– How full-fat options improve your health & reduce your risk of putting on weight

 

– When sugar is a help and when it’s a hindrance

– Whether organic is worth it, or GMO is better

– How a slice of toast could be your worst enemy

– How nutrition fits into a bigger picture of life

Matt Wallden, a leading holistic health practitioner* will draw on over 20 years of clinical experience to deliver an informative, insightful and free talk to answer all your nutritional questions on Thursday 6th July, for free at Fetcham’s Greenwise Wholefoods Shop & Cafe.

Join us for professional guidance and prosecco on Thursday!

Please feel free to post any questions you may have below, and Matt will do his best to answer them within the presentation or in the Q&A afterwards.

See you there!

 

Ergolution – evolutionary solutions to ergonomic challenges

For many years, ergonomics has been broadly considered an important investment for business owners, yet the bulk of research and advice in this field has focused on seating, work stations, angles and expensive mouse mats or key boards…  This is a huge mistake.

 

Ergolution provides a greater context – in fact, the biggest context – for why and how we “work”.  Back pain – the 3rd leading cause of time off work is not due to sitting with poor posture; it is far more complex than that.
The common cold – the 2nd leading cause of time off work is not due to a lack of Vitamin C supplementation; it is far more complex than that.

 

And stress – the leading cause of time off work is not due to a lack of yoga; it, too, is far more complex than that.

 

Yet, in spite of this complexity, there is a thread of simplicity that runs through the heart of work performance; and that is what we will be exploring in our webinar on Thursday.

Included within your £25 investment for the webinar are:

  • Access to the 100+page chapter Matt wrote on Rehabilitation & Movement Re-education which covers much of the biomechanical background to Ergolution
  • A free copy of the upcoming eBook of the same title “Ergolution”
  • Ongoing access to stream or download the webinar after the event

 

To secure your place, or to find out more click through here.

 

2017 Power Series Webinars

Power Series WebinarsAfter the great success of the 2016 monthly webinar series, we will continue to host webinars in 2017, though in our market survey we have had more requests for workshops and one-to-one mentoring.

As such, we are offering a Power Series of 4 webinars this year, one per quarter – running in March, June, September and December.

The first of these webinars, on Thursday March 23rd, will be covering the controversial topic of “The Core“.  Although you’d think that this topic has been “done to death” it turns out there there is still a huge amount of confusion – even in professional circles about the opinions of gurus that have perpetuated more than 2 decades after they were first debated.

The focus of the remaining 3 workshops are to be decided, but top requests so far include the following:

  • Working with identifying and correcting breathing pattern disorders
  • TMJ Dysfunction
  • Laterality Patterns and their role in injury
  • Ankle Sprain – mechanisms and rehabilitation
  • ACL Injury – how to treat and prevent
  • Primal Running – how evolution shaped us for optimal efficiency
  • Practical Applications of Shamanic and Subtle Energy Medicine

If you have any different requests, or like the sound of one or more of the topics above, please make a comment below and we will create the most sought-after webinars.

Thank you for your support and interest.

 

Reflections on George

george-michael-fastlove

It is not too often that a singer-songwriter-producer of the iconic status of George Michael comes around.  Like other greats, he was blessed with multiple talents and had the drive to deliver on them, sufficient to inspire multitudes.  He was a poet, a philosopher, and like many true artists had an uncanny knack to surf on the leading edge of the zeitgeist; watching it unfold in his wake as it became mainstream.  His political activism around Iraq was seen as misplaced at the time, but now anyone who knows how to operate Google can see his concerns around WMD’s were on the money.  Not least of his talents, was the voice of an angel… As Rob Lowe tweeted, now he can sing for them

Growing up in the 80’s, my experience of George Michael was that he was that good looking dude with a wicked voice and some catchy tunes; not anyone I was particularly focused on, just part of the mêlée that was the world of pop.

As I progressed into my teens and began to learn that, not only did George Michael have a great voice, but he wrote all his music – and arranged it – and produced it – and, as it turns out, played almost all the instruments, now I began to really respect the guy.

On top of that – and this is the key point – he was writing about things I could relate to in my own life – and sung them with a passion I felt deeply in my being.  An expression which left an impression.

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-15-18-41It turns out, it wasn’t just me who liked him… there were others too – roughly 100 million – who liked him enough to buy his records, and when I had the fortune to go to his Concert of Hope to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust, I saw that there were thousands of young men there with their girlfriends – many with his trademark designer stubble who, like me, were inspired by this icon – people who resonated with him, and wanted to be more like him.  With lyrics like this

If you are the desert, I’ll be the sea,

if you ever hunger, hunger for me,

whatever you ask for, that’s what I’ll be

 (From Father Figure, Faith Album, 1987)

… it’s not surprising that a generation of young men sung his lyrics to their girlfriends, or picturing a girl in mind who they could fall in love with… I recall sending these lyrics to my first true love who I took to the Concert of Hope.

Around the time of this song, George Michael was in the upper echelons of international stardom with multiple awards, critical acclaim and a Grammie to his name – and out-selling both Madonna and Michael Jackson…

In 1992, his status as one of the world’s best live singers was confirmed when his performance eclipsed in quality a line-up of the world’s greatest living pop stars at the gm-fm-tributeFreddie Mercury Tribute Concert; a performance that resulted in headlines suggesting that he may team up with Queen to become their new front man; something that never transpired.

His lesser known (and deliberately hidden) persona as a philanthropist was perhaps given away in his lyrics, such as those from “One More Try – “I’ve had enough of danger, and people on the streets, I’m looking out for angels, just trying to find some peace”… or his lead track from Listen Without Prejudice, Praying For Time, “This is the year of the hungry man, whose place is in the past – hand in hand, with ignorance and legitimate excuses.”

220px-george_michael_-_outsideThen, finally, it happened.  In 1997, George was outed.  Was this a shock?  Yes and no – there had been rumours for some time. People within the industry had called for George Michael to out himself – the openly gay Boy George being one of his better known critics on this front.  The way this happened was characteristically transmuted from humiliation into a humorous number 1 hit song.

Across his entire career though, what struck me the most, was that this man, a man who I had idolised to some degree, whose voice I loved, whose music and other talents had inspired me so deeply, was a gay man…  And, I recognised that we shared entirely common ground.  He was someone who experienced exactly the same feelings as me about those he loved; whose feelings I sung as my own – even sent romantically as a token of my love.  And what’s more (once again) it wasn’t just me who resonated in this way, it was millions of young heterosexual men around the planet.

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-17-59-23If Ken Wilber is correct, the consciousness of people on the planet is in a steady historical
growth, moving from more traditional, mythical ethnocentric views (the realm of religion), where homosexuality is often denounced, toward more rational globalcentric views (the realm of science) that will continue to progress into holistic and integral views of our place in the Kosmos.  This view is ultimately inclusive and transcendent.

It may well be that George Michael’s greatest accomplishment, the most profound legacy he’s left us with, was to create a seismic shift in awareness of heterosexual men, that their homosexual counterparts aren’t so different, so alien, so “queer” – after all…

(And for those who barf at this notion, for those who do strongly hold to more ethnocentric, dogmatic “us and them” views, this may prove an interesting read…)

After all, if our ground of experience is our emotions, and George’s homosexual emotions are a perfect match for my heterosexual emotions, maybe there isn’t an “us and them”… maybe there is only a we.

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-17-26-17

I often tell my patients, we’re all here to inspire before we expire; and George Michael is someone who passes that credential with flying colours.

I, for one, will be forever grateful for his influence in my life and the joy, wisdom and insight he offered me – partly as a role model, partly as an inspiration, and partly as a father figure…

A tribute to George Michael, who died yesterday, but will live on in more ways than most, after what turned out to be his very own Last Christmas…

george-michael-fastlife