THE SPINAL COLUMN
ALPHA CHIROPRACTIC NEWSLETTER
At one point this was a phrase that can be heard or read on a poster in nearly every chiropractic office on any given day. Chiropractors have used this example in nature to describe to parents what can (and probably will) happen to their children's posture if a spinal distortion in childhood is not corrected as they grow. Many children have benefited from the care they have received as a result of chiropractors telling their practice members these words. Indeed, many lives have probably been saved. At the very least, the quality of these kids' lives has been improved.
Having recognized the important physical benefits many have realized from hearing this phrase and following up with a program of regular chiropractic check-ups, I would now like to take a deeper look at the meaning behind the author's words. When Emerson first wrote these words, he was actually referring to how a child sees the world. He was attempting to convey the fact that the thoughts, beliefs and attitudes we develop in childhood determine, in large part, how we see the world and how we respond to it as adults.
In relation to our health, we see that children who believe that a drug, remedy, surgery or any other kind of treatment from the outside is necessary to heal will continually look outside themselves for help, and they will live in a world where they are constantly trying to eliminate or prevent something they don't want in their lives. At first, this doesn't seem like a bad thing. But, if all our time is spent working on getting rid of what we don't want, we have very little time or energy left to give to creating what we do want!
This attitude toward health is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the kind of thinking that develops in individuals who are brought up in the medical mindset. Not only do they think this way as far as their health, they also inherently learn to see themselves as imperfect and incapable of being everything they were meant to be! Since we all learn at a very early age to identify ourselves with our bodies, being told how imperfect our bodies are on a regular basis (i.e., you need these shots, this medicine, this operation, etc.) causes many of us to develop and carry over these attitudes into every aspect of our lives.
In contrast, kids raised in the chiropractic mindset grow up understanding that we all express a principle of organization called "innate intelligence" that runs, regulates, heals and grows our bodies. They are taught that we have perfection within us just waiting to be fully expressed. Once again, because we identify who we are with our bodies, these kids grow up believing that we all have a vital purpose. And, more importantly, we have everything we need already inside of us to actualize that purpose!
There is yet another aspect of chiropractic that is of supreme importance in understanding what Emerson was saying. We perceive everything as a result of impulses we receive through our nerve systems. And, our responses come as a result of our interpretations of the information received. If we have any nerve interference, we may not interpret the information we receive from our senses in a way that is most useful to us. In other words, our view of the world and how we fit into it will be distorted! And, as a result, we will not respond in the way that will best support our own growth or the growth of those around us.
You see it's not the amount of interference that is a problem. ANY interference has the effect of distorting our view of the world! Understanding this is critical! This means that even if someone is brought up with empowering belief systems, he or she may not be able to gain the desired lessons and therefore will not benefit the way someone with a fully functioning nerve system will. The result will be the same as if that child were brought up in the opposite belief system!
It is also vital to recognize that we are all growing and unfolding, even as adults! Most adults don't recognize this because the overwhelming majority of growth after age 20 is mental and spiritual. The main thing to be aware of is that the same nerve interference that causes a child to grow up with a distorted view of the world will cause an adult to begin to misinterpret the world too! Will this affect your performance at work? Can you be the parent you want to be and teach the lessons you want your children to learn if you aren't at 100% yourself?
So I ask you, how important is it for everyone to be checked for the presence of nerve interference on a regular basis? Well, the way I see it, without chiropractic care and a fully functioning nerve system, the world will end up with an awful lot of crooked trees!
Life is not fully expressed when one's spine is subluxated.
"I'm feeling pretty good now, so I think I'll wait to come back when it starts hurting again," is a comment I hear sometimes.
Let's apply some simple "garage logic" to this statement and talk about our automobile.
If I was driving a 1974 Pinto, attempting to just keep it "limping along" through one more winter before I haul it to the dump, this kind of thinking may be appropriate. "What, the belts are worn and the alternator isn't kicking out the amps that it could?" I may shrug my shoulders to my trusted mechanic Rich and proclaim, "I don't care, I'll deal with it when it falls apart, it's just a '74 rust bucket."
Unfortunately, this is how many of us treat our bodies -- and God didn't give you a Pinto! He gave you a Rolls Royce!! We may feel like a "broken down, rust bucket" at times, usually because we've been treating and caring for ourselves like that '74 Pinto.
Put it this way: If I gave you a Rolls Royce on your next visit, how would you take care of it?
Would you wait until the oil light comes on to check the fluids? No, this is a car of value, of worth.
Would you get the oil changed when the hard knocking under the hood gets too loud to bear? Are you kidding? That would destroy the engine and the cost of repair would then be terrible.
Would you wait for a tire to pop before you check the pressure, wait for the door to rust through before repairing a "ding," or ignore that slippage in the transmission until it no longer shifted into reverse? This is a car of value, of performance! You would care for you new driving machine as an investment, washing it regularly, getting regular system checks even when there are no "symptoms," and you'd never take it for granted. After all, this is an awfully expensive vehicle!
Does it at least make sense to apply this same logic to our bodies?
Do you wait until the oil light comes on (back pain) before getting checked? Do you use that "hard knocking" under the hood (headache) as your sign of trouble?
Have you been treating yourself like a '74 Pinto and then wonder why you seem to perform like one?
You are a Rolls Royce! You are a high performance, priceless work of art, needing to be cared for like jewel of great value. Keep your engine purring with exercise and good, wholesome nutrition even if it costs a few dollars more. Keep the body new with regular adjustments so the symptoms of decay don't ever have a chance to set in.
Chiropractic is about optimum performance! Keep your high performance vehicle in tip-top shape instead of chasing symptoms.
Get in for regular "tune-ups."
Julie was walking into the office for her weekly check-up. Upon seeing me she immediately started reading me the mental list she had been preparing since she had awoken that morning. "Hi Doc!" She said, "Here's what's going on today..." Julie began telling me about all of the things she had noticed that weren't perfect about her body from the skin on the top of her head being a little itchy, to some reflux problems and constipation to the fact that her big toe was making a popping noise when she went upstairs. I waited until she was finished talking and then I just stood there looking at her.
"What's wrong?" She asked, obviously wondering why I was just standing there not saying anything.
"I'm just waiting for the rest," I replied.
"That's it," she said, and began to lie down.
"That's it?" I responded with surprise, "Where's your other list?!"
She sat back up and wondered aloud, "My other list?"
"Yes! You started your list by saying this is what's going on today. Where's your list of all the things that are working well with your body today? I am waiting to hear that too!"
"Well," Julie answered, sounding confused, "I didn't make one."
"Oh, well then I guess I'll go and get you some paper so that you can get started on it!" I said excitedly. "When you are done, I'll check your spine for subluxations and if any are found, I'll introduce a force so your body can make an adjustment."
Many of us forget that whatever we are looking at, i.e., whatever we are focusing on, tends to increase in our lives. Of course, we want to feel good. And because we don't like not feeling good, we tend to notice all the things that we believe are keeping us from feeling good first.
An important part of this process of gradually feeling happier is to stop taking your body for granted and begin purposefully noticing all of the things that are working very well with it! After all, there is only one thing you are absolutely guaranteed to keep your entire lifetime, and that's your body! You can and will lose EVERYTHING else in your life. Your friends will come and go, your other relationships will change, your job, your material possessions; you won't even keep many of the beliefs you have been holding on to, but you will always have your body.
"But," you say, "I do appreciate my body!"
Do you really? Let's try a simple little test to see if that's true.
Question #1: Which three things do you like the least about your body right now?
Question #2: What three things do you like most about your body?
Question #3: Which answers came most easily?
I'll bet it took longer for you to answer the second question. Of course, this does not mean that you don't appreciate your body at all, but it should help you realize that you may be consistently placing more or your attention on what's not quite perfect yet than on what's working well.
The other thing that is important to remember is that you are not your body. You body is the vehicle you have been given through which to express the Real You. And, focusing on all of the things that are working so wonderfully each day (no matter how small they are) helps you manifest more great things for which to be grateful!
Worrying about something will render something for you to have worried about. But an attitude of gratitude flows to us things to be grateful for! How about taking three minutes, three times per day for the next two weeks to go on a purposeful rampage of appreciation and seeing what happens! I promise you, it will be one of the best two weeks you have had in a long time!
Chiropractic is about being a better expression on life and a better human being.
I was recently asked by a person in the office why I use the term practice member to describe some people and patient to describe other people that come here to get adjusted. It's a kind of interesting distinction that I, and a few other non-therapeutic/objective straight chiropractors, have made.
In the early stages of the healing process, many people may seek the services of a health practitioner (chiropractor, medical doctor, therapist, etc.) to end suffering, manage discomfort, or bring order to life again. In this stage, the main task of the practitioner involves helping recreate life the way it was just before the symptoms arose and the illness or the suffering interrupted a person's orderly existence.
In a later part of the healing process many people walk through an important door. Here, their personal power and integrity must be honored. Many will no longer want to return to the way life was before suffering, because they are now aware that much of the old life wasn't working for them. They realize that the choices they were making were responsible for their problems.
As a consequence of this new awareness, those people will accept more responsibility for their health and life and be more inclined to further seek my services and other practitioners who may help them experience more wholeness in their lives, and enable them to honor their essence more completely.
There may still be a need for a practitioner who can make them "feel better," but this help is now administered within the context of evolving self. They now want a relationship where the health practitioner helps them take back their power rather than an authority figure who is in control of the situation while they remain passive. They are now ready for a more co?creative relationship with a healing facilitator.
Since I began working with people who were moving through this shift in thinking, I have felt uncomfortable with the term patient. According to my dictionary, a patient is "one who is sick with, or being treated for, an illness or injury" or "an individual receiving medical care." The term implies that people are sick and that I, as the practitioner, will provide treatment to make them well. People here know, that I don't treat symptoms or diseases. I just remove an interference (subluxation) that is preventing your body from functioning at its best. Most of the time, when the body functions better, it can get rid of health challenges on its own. Let's also remember that no doctor of any kind ever healed or cured anybody of anything! Healing or curing is the creation of living tissue to replace injured, dead, or sick cells. Only the body can heal itself because only the body can create living tissue. Since we are our own healers, I decided to use a different term for those involved in the higher stage of the healing process.
So in my chiropractic office, I called people who were taking their power back "practice members." They were members of practice who see that their growth, healing, mental and physical evolution are primary. The distinction is this: patients want to be "fixed" to the way they were before the onset of symptoms; practice members no longer find this place acceptable. Unlike patients, practice members do not want to be limited in their ability to heal, learn, and grow.
True growth results from living through an experience. It is the difference between watching a baseball game and being at bat. It is the difference between saying "hot" to a child who is to touch a stove and the child being burned and discovering what "hot" is. It is the difference between describing what a taste of chocolate is like and tasting the chocolate yourself. Like life, each stage of the healing journey is experiential. It is practical and it is real, although not always convenient.
One intent of my newsletters, Monday Morning Motivations, and other communications is to help empower patients, practice members, and even other health practitioners to better understand and communicate these concepts. The reason why I do this is because I have seen that most of the healing and improvement in life occurs once people make this shift in thinking. The more people that are aware of these concepts and this way of thinking, the more impact we can have on creating a healthier community.
So, patient or practice member, which would you rather be?