“The mind and body are not separate. What affects one, affects the other.” – Anonymous
I’ll never forget the first time I heard this quote while in chiropractic school. I was in a patient assessment course taught by Dr. Lillian Ford who always found ways to show us the parallels that exist between the mind and the body.
For example, she would always tell us that throughout our careers, we would come to see first hand, the way our body tends to hold onto our non-physical issues whether it be stress, trauma, limiting beliefs, etc., and she was right. It didn’t take long before I was able to witness the way the body expresses mental and emotional dis-ease in the form of tension, altered muscle & joint function, and pain.
In fact, I was able to experience this phenomenon while working at our student clinic and treating my first patient ever. The patient, who was also a student in school, came into the student clinic to be treated for hip and low back pain she had been experiencing over the course of a few weeks. It had become more intense and consistent and she figured that she needed an adjustment to help her get back on track.
During the exam, there were specific indicators pointing to a hip flexor issue which corresponded to a new kick-boxing workout that she had started shortly before experiencing symptoms. As a student intern, I was completely focused on the structural and mechanical components of her condition, but something interesting started to happen when I began working on the muscles that were contributing to her diagnosis.
Within a few seconds of working on her hip flexor, I noticed her eyes started to water and her skin started to flush and turn red. My first thought was that perhaps I was using too much pressure, or that her hip flexor was hyper-sensitive, but that was not the case. I stopped the treatment to ask her if she was okay, and she then started to cry and quickly apologize for doing so, to which I responded that it was perfectly normal and that it was going to be okay.
She took some time to wipe her tears and then started to unpack the story of what she had been feeling that suddenly came to surface the moment I started working on her hip. She went on about how difficult those last few weeks had been for her, and that she hadn’t been able to visit her family back home because of the workload, and that she just couldn’t handle all the pressure and the stress of being in 3rd trimester. The 3rd trimester is often one of the more challenging trimesters in our program because of the intensity of classes and the fact that students are also preparing to take the first of a four-part board examination process.
Needless to say, she was holding all of her stress of missing her family, being overwhelmed with school, and literally just trying to push through life and keep moving forward…but her body had other plans.
We took time during that visit to just talk. The more she shared about what was going on, the more you could see the relief start to slowly make its way into the room, and into her body. Eventually we were able to continue our treatment and by the end of the first session she felt considerably less pain in her hip which was great. However, more importantly, she felt a sense of hope and relief that things were going to be okay and was thankful that we were able to spend time talking about her “other pains”. Little did I know, this would be the hallmark of how I would practice in the future.
This session is one that I will never forget. It was remarkable to see the way the body and mind are connected. Regardless of whether we are talking about muscles, joints, or organs, our body is always keeping a record of what we experience mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Over the last 19 years, I have seen over 2,000 clients that originally came to me for a physical issue, but over the course of our treatments would recognize that there were issues beyond the tissues that needed to be addressed as well.
It is understandable to see that we can sometimes dismiss our non-physical issues as contributors or causes of our physical issues, especially when our physical issues are screaming louder than our non-physical issues. However, if there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that there is no physical issue in the body that does not have a component rooted in the mental, emotional, or spiritual plane. You cannot separate that which is infinitely interconnected through space and time.
The best we can do for ourselves each day is to honor the connection that exists between our whole self by doing things that help bring healing and comfort to our body, mind and spirit.
This is the true basis of healing. It is not the absence of disease or infirmity, but rather the state of becoming whole and creating harmony and balance between the whole you.