What role does chiropractic play in relationships? We know that chiropractors look to the spine for the connection to the brain. This impacts the brain-body connection for overall vitality and health. But is there a connection with relationships – relationships to self, to another person, to our community?
The autonomic nervous system is that branch of the nervous system over which you have no voluntary control. It connects to all of your visceral organs for adaptation and appropriate changes to environmental stimuli. If you are in a state of stress, your visceral organs change function for survival or protection (aka “fight or flight”) and you can notice changes within your heart, lungs, muscles, immune functions, digestive functions, reproductive functions, etc. Staying in this state long-term means your vitality and health suffer. On the contrary to the state of surviving is the state of thriving, and functions of your body change more for growth, repair, regeneration, and healing.
This is all coordinated and controlled through what your brain perceives in your environment as well as on the messages sent through your nerves back-and-forth between all of the trillions of cells in your body and your brain. As long as your brain properly perceives its surroundings, and messages are properly directed throughout your nerves, your body will always respond the best possible way to its environment. You cannot be in a state of surviving and in a state of thriving at the same time. The parts of your nervous system that coordinate these functions are the sympathetic and the parasympathetic.
But what about relationships? Dr. Stephen Porges Ph.D. is a professor at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and researches the areas of psychology, behavioral neuroscience and evolutionary biology. Through his endless work he has developed what is called the “polyvagal theory.” You see, in addition to the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems is a third involving awareness, intimacy and relationships. First, your nervous system is all about sensory and awareness about you. This same division of the nervous system is then about creating connection with others around you – lover, friends, community. As long as you are not in a state of chronic survival due to the inability to deal with stress, and your brain has best perception and awareness of your internal body and external environment, then can you better connect with others.
How does this relate to chiropractic? Because the true purpose of chiropractic is working with the awareness of self and with the brain’s perception of the body. As stressors – physical, chemical, mental/emotional – accumulate over the years, one becomes sympathetically (fight or flight) dominant and becomes disconnected as the nervous system gains a false perception of self. If stress remains high and the perception of self is distorted, how does this affect health? Health continues to decrease while health concerns increase. When individuals are sympathetically dominant (fight or flight), it is difficult to develop deep and meaningful relationships, follow intuition, allow for mother-child bonding, and generate growth within community.
So, how can chiropractic care help? What does the chiropractor do? The chiropractor removes stress and interference from the brain-body connection. The brain-body connection is enhanced. Overtime, these divisions of the autonomic nervous system become more balanced as the brain become more balanced. (This can and has been measured.) The body’s ability for true, inner healing can improve. Yes, many people do experience great changes with many aspects of their physical health which could be a number of examples such as energy, immune systems, digestion, respiration, reproduction. But perhaps the greatest gift of health is working with that part of the nervous system directly involved in relationships. It is very common for those under care to describe feelings of greater connection to themselves and to others. People become better lovers, mothers, fathers, and friends.
Imagine what this could mean for our community. What would our community be like if everyone – every man, woman, and child – were under regular chiropractic care? Health and vitality overall would be increased. According to behavioral and evolutionary neuroscience, what would this mean for the overall psychological and sociological health of our community?