On Addiction – What Is it, and What to Do

I am realizing that I have an addiction to distracting myself – mainly via Facebook in recent times. In the excellent talk by Dr. Gabor Maté that I have provided a link to, below, he asks, and answers, the question What Is Addiction? He says that all addictions are simply ways/attempts to relieve ourselves of pain/distress.

I have watched Part 1 of this video a couple of times before. It is  only a little over 3 minutes long, and it is an excellent overview of his message. I would, however, strongly encourage you to watch Part 2, also, as I just did. It is over 18 minutes long and is a TedX talk he gave in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It truly is one of the best TedTalks I have ever seen. And given how many excellent TedTalks I have seen, that is really saying something.

So, back to me and my own addiction. The truth is, I don’t know the exact origin of my own personal pain. There were challenges and traumas in my growing up years, to be sure. But in comparison with many people I have met over the course of my life – not all of of them patients, but also friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances – what I remember of my past seems trying, but not extreme. What I can not argue with, however, is the clear evidence that trauma has occurred, and that there is a marked impulse to distract from the pain of it.

Now in both parts of the talk by Maté, he speaks directly of, and quotes others also advocating for, the need to simply Be With the Pain. All addiction is essentially trying to run from the suffering, and the “surest way to Hell is to try to run from it” is the gist of one those quotes.

How does one Be with the Pain? How can I do that? Well a couple of things are crucial. The first, is what I am doing here, now: admitting it is a problem. Secondly, anyone who has identified their addiction will need compassion and support (from themselves, and others) to choose, over and over again, to Be with that Pain. Unfortunately it helps not at all for others to point out that (I’m) “You’re doing it again”. That just ends up being perceived as shaming and blaming – whether that is what was intended, or not. Recognizing instead that there is some sort of pain that I am trying to evade, and having compassion for that process, feels very supportive.

So, this writing is a reminder to myself to let my own pain be registered; to let it land. For me, that means taking breaks from online time, so that there is the space to let my mind rest. Only then can I be with my own pain. Today I spent all afternoon in the garden, raking leaves and cleaning up. That worked well for me.

I am also reminding myself here, that as a practitioner, and simply as a fellow human Be-ing, I can be compassionate with the addictive attempts by others to deaden or distract from their pain. Now of course it is easy to become an enabler of the addictions of others. But unwavering Love and Compassion can be firm and holding, while not collapsing.

There is, of course, so much more that can be said on this subject. This much is what I needed to share here and now.


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Life IS Balance – Wellness is the Expression of the Extent of that Balance

Life is all about balance; and about communication between the parts of our whole organism. Different regions, different systems of the body all need to be, and are, in constant contact with each other – at least that is so in a situation of healthy balance. When, however, there are imbalances, compromises to the communication channels between regions, between systems, the body is attempting to demonstrate, to gain attention for those imbalances, disruptions and/or distortions in those communication pathways.

In this way, it is very important to look at the presenting situation – of symptoms or challenges that arise physically (and mento-emotionally) for us – for they can be seen then as problems to understand and address. The best way I know of to facilitate a reading of what exactly needs to be understood and addressed, is by osteopathic assessment, palpation, and the treatment process itself.

So the body is a finely tuned instrument. It constantly expresses and reflects its state, and the psycho-emotional state of the mind. It is inexplicably linked to, and expressive of, how one sees the world. If we feel criticized, isolated or judged, for instance, that will be reflected in our posture; how we breathe and talk; how we hold ourselves; how we move about in the world; whether we meet the eyes of others around us; whether we allow ourselves to take in, and feel the support of the ground beneath us, the chair we are sitting on; whether we feel the natural world around us – or not.

Having some conscious awareness of how these interactions between our view of ourselves and the world around us, take place, can be very freeing. New neurological research (well represented by the book, The Upward Spiral, by Alex Korb, PhD) indicates that there is a regulating influence, or an improvement in one’s health that follows simply from acknowledging to oneself how one is feeling. So, if I am feeling sad, and I attempt to move around it; if I don’t want to admit it to myself that I’m feeling that sadness (or angry, desolate, fill-in-the-blank with any uncomfortable feeling for you), then I’m going to tense up against even trying to feel it. Now, the tension itself has become more of the problem than the sadness, anger or whatever I was failing to acknowledge feeling. Note here that I ALREADY AM FEELING the uncomfortable emotional content, but I am trying not to “see,” “hear,” taste,” or “sense” it in any way. If, on the other hand, I simply acknowledge what I’m feeling – it doesn’t have to change – there is already a shift in my brain chemistry toward a healthier perspective toward myself and “the world”.

A big part of the work I do as an osteopath is to share with the people, parents of young children, or animal care-givers seeking my help, the perspective that is so evident to me from that person/child/animal’s body, so that they can use that understanding to work with me in re-establishing a more harmonious balance and regulation within the communication networks that are always functioning in a live physical body. If we are alive, that network is functioning at some level. Our level of health and wellness is  largely determined, however, by how clear and unimpeded those communications are, and the extent to which they are acknowledged.

If you are an osteopath, physician, chiropractor, physiotherapist or massage therapist and would be interested in exploring ideas like this in a practical and experiential way relevant to your own practice please get in touch with me directly, at: victoria.osteopath@gmail.com Please use the subject line “Professional Workshop List”

I am presently in planning mode for course offerings to begin in the next couple of months. I may also offer some other forum for discussion and sharing amongst my patients and the general public. If that interests you, please send me an email to the same address, but use the title: “Public Discussion”

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My practice has moved

Karen and I are here in the hot sun taking a few days restful break at Yellow Point Lodge. 

Tomorrow, Sunday, July 5th, we return to Victoria and make final preparations for our move, within Fairfield, on July 6. 

As I will have to make some minor renovations to the practice space at the new address – 1907 Shotbolt Rd – I’m booking patients from Monday, July 13 onwards. 

My telephone number, fax number website URLs and email address will all remain the same as before. 

Along with the move there are some other things that will change in the next while, and the first. that I will share now, is that I will be doing some new workshop offerings in the autumn of this year. 

Please send me an email if you’re interested in being on a list of people informed about those coming workshop offerings. 

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Thanks Everyone! … We Have a Place to Move To

I had a great response to my last post, asking for help in finding Karen and I a place. Thanks to everyone who sent me leads, told friends and colleagues and/or who held the vision of us landing in a new place to admirably meet our needs.

To our great relief, we have recently found another place to live in for both our practices and our home base – right here in Fairfield. We move from 1238 Richardson Street to our new home at 1907 Shotbolt Road, on July 6th. I won’t be seeing patients at the new address until 8th of July, at the earliest.

1907 Shotbolt-Front

The entrance to the practice space will be via a door along the right side of the house, just beyond the end of the driveway. Access will be easier than it might appear in this Google Maps picture.

More information will be forthcoming closer to our move date. Again, many thanks to all of those who supported us thus far…

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Looking for a new place: Moving our home and practice(s)

My partner, Karen Ledger, and I are moving from 1238 Richardson Street, as of the end of June. We don’t yet know where we’ll be going. This fact is, in part, my impetus for writing this post. We would be grateful for our community of friends, family and clients to send us (very brief) leads on places for rent that fall along the lines of the parameters I’ll lay out, below. Many thanks in advance if you can offer any assistance to us – even if it is just holding the vision that we find something that is nourishing as personal sanctuary, and (connected to the living space, or separate from it) a place that works admirably for my osteopathic practice.

Most of you reading will know (though some will not) that Karen and I have been lucky enough to live in a beautiful property in Fairfield. It has a great garden, and wonderful practice space for me, and a very nice studio out back which Karen has used for her office and part-time practice space. The rest of the house is not so salubrious, but has served us very well for years now.

The white door to my clinic is open to the waiting room area in the following pictures. Last pic is my treatment room. One before that is the hallway to treatment room and bathroom, beyond.



DSC_0181 DSC_0182 DSC_0183 DSC_0184 DSC_0178


We would ideally love to find a place in Fairfield again – since it works so well for us and our clients to get to and from. If that doesn’t work, we are also looking in other parts of Greater Victoria  EXCEPT Oak Bay (unless it was purely for our home, since bylaws don’t allow home offices – meaning it is too risky to try and combine home and practice space behind the Tweed Curtain). The western communities (Colwood, Langford, Sooke) are too far out, and James Bay generally feels too crowded in. Gordon Head is possible but not preferable.

So here is a list of features we’d love to have in living and practice spaces – ideally in the same location.

A garden for growing vegetables – a south, west or east facing area

Bright rooms, 2 bedrooms and a den/office area for Karen

A nice LR, dining rm and kitchen area. We like to cook…

Storage  and workshop area (garage or basement?)

Enough room in LR or another area for me to do music in (piano, guitars, and other instruments)

Room for my practice:

Whether it is part of the home space or not, I need relatively level access for movement-restricted clients/patients.

The space again needs to be bright and attractive.

including a separate entrance, a room private, but bright enough to be a treatment room, and access to a bathroom nearby. Preferably an additional separate area where 1-2 people could wait for their family member while the treatment goes on.

We are in our early 60’s and very responsible tenants. Both of us have been home-owners in the past. We have excellent references.

We have both always been non-smokers, and we have no pets.

In my practice as an osteopath I see people of all ages, and I treat animals, mostly dogs, OUTSIDE the house. At our present home I treat dogs on the step outside the white clinic door. (See above pic.)

I presently have an administrative assistant (Lyle) who works two half-days per week with me. Depending on layout of either home or separate office space for the practice, Lyle might work mostly off-site. Or, if I am renting office space that includes reception staff Lyle’s services may not be required any more.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you can suggest any places for rent that are:

well under $3000/per month for a whole house, suitable as joint home and practice space;

OR, a nice house for rent that would meet most of the wish list except for the practice space (so it then could be in Oak Bay) for well under $2000/ per month;

AND/OR a nice practice space that you know of: Full-time space, level access or elevator and parking for patients for less than $1000 per month

we would love to hear from you.


I can reached at victoriaosteopath@gmail.com


Regards to All,










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Osteopathy supports Health and Wellness

Today, April 19th, begins International Osteopathic Healthcare Week.

The above link takes you to a brief animated video produced by the Canadian Federation of Osteopaths (CFO). OsteopathyBC is the voluntary body representing osteopathic practitioners in this province – and is a member organisation of the CFO.

Here, below,  also are two posters in support of this week’s initiative to raise public awareness of this highly valuable healthcare practice. Please circulate this post to family, friends and/or anyone who you think might benefit from this approach to Wellness.

CFO-IOHW English poster


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Healing Civilization

This book, and my response to reading it, came to mind today, and I thought it might be useful to re-post. I referred to it within a conversation with a patient about a different model for education – in primary and secondary school, especially.

Howard Dieno's Blog

I have just read a life-altering book: Healing Civilization by Claudio Naranjo.

In it, Naranjo speaks of the the whole thread of civilization as we know it – the last 5000 to 6000 years or so – as being of one basic trend: Patriarchy. All of our competitiveness, striving and busyness of mind seen so universally in modern culture, taking precedence over the values of the matristic communities he asserts obtained before civilization arose. In those pre-civilized and women-led groups, the emphasis was on heart-based experience, featuring co-operation, mutual support and communication amongst its members.

While the latter sounds idyllic in the short sketch I have made of the difference, Naranjo importantly points out that what is needed now is a three-centered approach to Life and Education. In other words, our societal structures need to incorporate not just the Male Head Centre – logical, linear, technological and productive aspects, and…

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In Memory of a Dear Friend

I heard tonight that a long-time and very dear friend of my sister, Alvina, took his own life today. Chris was a funny and talented man, compassionate, sensitive, and in recent years, deeply troubled and depressed. How is it that Life gets to look so dark, so hopeless, so irredeemable, that a man in his forties would choose to end his life so abruptly? I don’t know.

In the case of my father, who also took his own life, the situation was very different. Dad was 84, had had a pretty full and well-rounded life – though absolutely not without its dark periods. But his decision to end his life, given the circumstances of a return of his cancer after 7 years with a permanent colostomy that was producing major problems, is more understandable to me.

I don’t mean to say that I don’t accept Chris’s reasons as valid or authentic – for I do. But that doesn’t make it any less tragic. The fact that he reached that state and didn’t feel there was any way back from the brink is one that I know my sister is struggling with – as may be the case for many who knew Chris. In response to that feeling I want to say this: If feelings of shame and self-judgement arise (“I should have seen this coming; I should have helped him find his way back”) please remember that it’s not the feeling that is the problem, it’s the latching on to such feelings in preference to feeling our vulnerability that is in the way. It’s in the way of some manner of peace, healing, even gratitude. Yes, there is gratitude for knowing Chris,  and for being reminded of the frailty of the human mind and body. And yet that frailty, and even the tragic end to Chris’s life, does not diminish the essence of Chris, nor the majesty of Life itself. For in fact, they are the same thing.

Now I want to append a blog post I wrote back in November, 2014 but never posted. It seems apt to what I have written above: for me, my sister, Alvina, and perhaps others too. It will make this a long post. May it be helpful to those who need solace just now.

This draft blog post was entitled

On Vulnerability and Shame

The first of the Ted Talks by Brene Brown appearing below, was done in 2010, and I wrote about it and another TedTalk on Vulnerability, almost two years ago now. That previous blog entry can be read here: https://howarddieno.com/2012/12/23/two-very-important-tedtalks/

The second talk, called Listening to Shame, was done by Dr. Brown more recently and is referred to for the first time in this blog.

Recent events in my life have had me pondering (yet again) how to be vulnerable, and WITH (or Listening To) my shame, in the face of some pretty difficult challenges.

Some time ago I had several sessions of Brain Wave Optimization (BWO) – a particular type of neurofeedback protocol. From that work I learned more about, and got some perspective on, some very early trauma in my life. As so often happens, later traumas, leading up to and especially including the death of both my parents six days apart last spring, worked to unhinge my best compensations to deal with my early trauma. What I am describing here is, of course, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).The unhinging in me has meant a significant change (decrease) in my ability to rest, relax and recharge – in short, to quiet my mind. Fortunately for my practice work with patients, I have still been able (mostly) to remain present and available to their process – ironically, sometimes more than ever before.

Now I have always experienced some vulnerability when regarding my challenges in quieting my mind. Evidence of this is seen in a poem/song, called “Truth”, which I wrote over 15 years ago. Here are the first three lines of that song:

 Try as I might, I can not stop this busy mind,

But what delight, as Truth comes to light,

                                             And I See the Beloved, in all Humankind.

The deeper feelings of shame associated with my challenges in quieting my busy mind, and difficulty in being with my feelings of anger and inadequacy, have only really amped up again since the death of my parents. I had always felt blessed in my abilities to sleep in a peaceful, restorative manner, to meditate, and to use HRV biofeedback to demonstrate “Presence”.  (You can search for previous posts on this blog relating to Presence, and The Presence Project.) But recently, it is often as if all the traumas experienced in my life sum up in the moment, and derail my most fervent attempts to let them go. (Yes, I absolutely see the malapropism of “fervent attempts to let go.”) The fact that a big part of my practice relates to helping others let go into the void of not-knowing anything in particular has been of little help in my own case. In fact, there is a great deal of shame associated with feeling hypocritical and fraudulent in connection with my life’s work as an osteopath (working in support of personal and spiritual growth, and not just helping people move toward optimized bio-mechanical relationships in the body) while I am simultaneously feeling more disconnected from my own life as Presence.

Three things culminated in my understanding both the scale and pervasiveness of my own PTSD. Firstly I saw the graphing of my brain activity, and heard the feedback from the clinic staff who administered the BWO. The evidence there was of more hyper-vigilance and distractability than even I was aware of. The second thing was discussing the findings with my friend, Rod Punnett – a very close friend and an expert on neurofeedback, HRV and other modality-based biofeedback and fellow journeyman on the Path to living in, and as, Presence. With the help of the first two points, the third thing was simple observation – seeing and feeling the extent to which my sleep has been interrupted and the level of busyness of mind that is my (almost) continual fellow traveler.

Just to finish this off, tonight, February 2nd, 2015, I am gradually integrating more. That means I am getting more able to be with my own shame and vulnerability; and that helps. As that occurs I am getting more restful sleep. That is also hugely helpful.

Chris, I am thinking of you on this next difficult journey of your soul. Some may think it naive, but I truly believe that with the support of those who love you, you will eventually heal from this traumatic end to this round of embodied life. For those who love you, and are shocked, saddened, even traumatized by hearing of your abrupt end, know that Love  given is always received, by all parties, whether it seems to be so, or not.

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A Brief Vignette in Memory of my Father

It was the summer of 1971, when Richard and I were still 16 for a bit longer, and Marcel had already turned 17.

Back when I was 14 and just learning to drive, my Dad had bought a 1956 Plymouth Savoy, as a car for my mother, and later, for me to also use. When I got my driver’s license on my sixteenth birthday, I began driving it much more than my mother did.

Anyway, on that fateful summer day in ’71, Richard and Marcel and I were throwing the football around at about the time when my Dad left for his afternoon shift as a switchman for the CNR in Edmonton. After Dad had driven away, I took my friends into the garage and told them about how,  just days before, Dad and I had spent hours replacing a passenger door on the Plymouth. They didn’t seem all that interested in what I was saying, for by the time I was finishing the story they were throwing the football at each other in the garage. At one point Marcel jumped into the front passenger seat of the Plymouth and Richard threw the football hard at Marcel’s head. But before the ball came through the opening, Marcel had quickly rolled up the window. There was a shattering of glass, and little tiny pieces were everywhere inside the car and out.

The funny thing about my Dad was that he could be all sorts of fun to be around, but when he was angry the last thing anyone wanted was to be in his orbit – let alone as the target of his wrath. Richard knew of this only by reputation – but Marcel knew, almost as well as I did, how serious a fix we were in.

I organized  us into a very efficient team over the following few hours. We cleaned up the glass well enough to pile into the car and head off to the car-wrecker yard on the outskirts of the city. There I managed to find another door on a similar Plymouth model of the same year. The original car was a Savoy, with the simpler, more-pleasing curved line to the lower white panel on the doors. My Dad and I had replaced the driver’s door with a red and white door from a Plymouth Belvedere, with the zig-zag design. I managed (this time with some help from Richard and Marcel) to remove the front passenger door from the same wreck, and put that in the trunk of the car. So with both front doors replaced we ended up with a 1956 Plymouth Savoy that looked more like a Plymouth Belvedere. (See pictures below.)

The real work began after we got back to my Dad’s double garage. I had to pry the interior panel off of both the door we were taking off, and the one we were replacing it with, so as to get at the roll-down window assembly. That window and mechanism  had to be carefully removed and then replaced after properly reattaching and realigning the “new door”. I had already removed the intact window assembly from the door we got from the wrecker, in the process of taking it off. All that shattered glass made for lots of cursing in the longer process of taking apart the door I was discarding.

We were all getting pretty worried as the time of my father’s return ((11:20pm) approached, and I still was not quite finished. Richard and Marcel wondered aloud what I was already thinking: “How would my old man respond to what had gone on since he left?” As it became clear we were in the home stretch I knew that my Dad would be fine with it, overall. He’d have a few stern disapproving words to say, for sure. But, he’d be pleased and impressed by the way I had learned enough from working side-by-side with him on cars, and wood-working projects, and other creations, that I could pull this off. And I hardly remember his reaction now – except to say that he was fine about it.

So, I thank you, Dad, for teaching me about resourcefulness, innovation, self-reliance and self-confidence. Your ingenuity and thorough attention to detail in almost everything you did, still inform my ways of being in the world to this day. You are missed.



Several years after the incident with the old Plymouth, I was married and living in Victoria. Marcel was in a final remission with his cancer – Hodgkin’s Disease – and he went on a quick solo road trip down the Oregon coast to California. On his hurried way back to Edmonton, he showed up unannounced one day when I was at work. He stayed overnight and left the next day. Mostly because of the car-door incident (I guess) Marcel was still of the (misguided) opinion that I could fix anything on cars. His VW Rabbit had a throttle cable problem – which I discovered more about when I checked his car. But I can still remember how disillusioned and disappointed he was when I told him he’d have to go to the dealer – or some mechanic, anyway – to have the throttle cable replaced.

Marcel tragically died at age 25, only a few months after that.



Screenshot 2014-10-13 13.53.01

1956 Plymouth Savoy (as it looked when Mom and I first got it)

I was born in 1954. So the car was nearly as old as I was.


Screenshot 2014-10-13 13.46.53

1956 Plymouth Belvedere.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

To all the many women I know, from extended family members to friends, colleagues, sisters-in-law, nieces, to my own sisters, my partner, and to my own dearly departed mother, I say thank you. I celebrate your loving care in this world; a world that so sorely needs just that.


Last night I attended a Joy of Life concert with Daniel Lapp and his many musical friends. I was sitting up in the balcony and happened to be behind a family of three young boys, their parents, and what looked to be their Grandad too. The youngest of the boys was right in front of me, snuggled in with his mother for much of the long festivities. He looked at his mother’s watch three or four times towards the end, but I neither heard nor saw any whining. The middle brother was cuddled up with Dad most of the concert. (I overheard that the middle boy’s birthday was the day before, and he hadn’t had much sleep the previous night. Anyway, I was very impressed with the affectionate and supportive way in which this family were with each other. And, I thought how lucky that little boy was to have a mother so completely devoted to her family – yet without appearing to give herself up to do so. And it reminded me of how supremely fortunate I was to have been raised by a mother just like that! Thank you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day to you!Image

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