I used to think that chiropractors were quacks – until I visited a chiropractor who specialized in prenatal care, when I was 10 months pregnant with my third son and miserable with back pain. Not only did she relieve much of my discomfort by ever so carefully realigning my spine and hips, but I went into labor within 24 hours. By that point of my pregnancy, I was DONE, and very grateful.
Fast forward several years. I was doing alot of running, and at some point developed a sharp burning pain along the IT band of my left leg. It would start hurting after only walking a few blocks, and so I let my running regimen fall to the wayside. No amount of noodle rolling, stretching, massage, or rest would keep the pain away. I decided at one point to go visit a local specialized chiropractor who emphasized more than just adjustment – she was into holistic care – nutrition, lifestyle, all of it. During my first visit she took X-rays of my back to find out where kinks were. Meanwhile, she explained that we usually come to the chiropractor for help when we are experiencing physical pain. However, this is a later stage in our injuries. Nerves that supply our muscles also supply our organs, and the same pinched nerves that cause noticeable pain also cause impairment in organ function. Furthermore, pain in the body that seems unrelated to our backs might actually be directly related.
This, as it turned out, was true in my case. As I visited her regularly over several months, she would make gradual adjustments and apply traction to reverse the multiple kinks in my back. Lo and behold, my relentless leg pain went away and has never returned, even after I started running again. Moral of the story? I’m now a fan of quality chiropractic care.
This week Rob Bell interviewed a holistic chiropractor that he had met on tour, and they discussed the philosophy and history behind chiropractic. It was a really good podcast…you can listen to it here. Early on, Dr. Beuerlein talked about the root meaning of the word subluxation, the term used to describe structural displacements within the spine. “Sub” means less than, below, or beneath. “Lux” means light or illumination. So, put together, subluxation means “not enough illumination” or “not enough light”. Or, you could say it this way – there’s not enough energy getting through. Restoration of proper electrical conductance (or energy flow) through the nerves requires gentle manipulation of the injured places on the spine. Kinks must be straightened and the skeletal components must be positioned into correct symmetry for ideal nerve signal transmission once again. Taking a pill won’t help. The specific injury needs to be addressed in order to regain full original function.
Of course, when I heard this, my mind insta-beamed to Rumi. Love me some Rumi. One quote attributed to him is as follows: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” I started chewing on both of these ideas in my mind, considering how this physical idea of subluxations is also analogous to places we get “stuck” emotionally and spiritually.
Our backs acquire subluxations from physical traumas – sometimes from big massives ones, and sometimes through small, reoccurring ones. The same is true for our psychological selves. Emotional traumas can cause kinks within our minds and hearts. They cause tangles of fear and beliefs that block love and life energy from being able to pass. As a result, we become disabled – handicapped in our ability to move through life with ease and freedom. If we don’t address these kinks, we are more likely to grow bitter, resentful, and hateful towards life and those around us.
When we have injuries, physically or emotionally, we usually want people to leave our pain well enough alone. Don’t touch it. You’ll make it worse. And so we nurse our pain, and pull in tighter to ourselves, guarding our wounds. The problem is, this guarding and pulling inwards only restricts energy flow more. We become more contracted and our pain increases.
Pain is actually a gift to us, even though we prefer to avoid it at all costs. It shows us where we are hurt and the places of our lives that desperately need to be addressed. It reveals the kinks that keep our life energy blocked and hinder us from being who we are meant to be.
The trick to dealing with pain in life is to go straight to the subluxations, the source of pain. Attempting to fix my hurting leg where it actually hurt didn’t yield any progress. My pain only dissolved when its root cause was addressed. It is the same with emotional pain. We can treat symptoms out on the periphery all that we want, but this won’t bring long-term results. Light and life energy can only get in at the site of injury. And this requires that we stop contracting ourselves, admit and accept that we are injured, and work with that injury so that it can be healed.
One more quote from Rumi:
“Don’t get lost in your pain; know that one day your pain will be your cure.”