Each health-care system around the world has an underlying philosophy that it is based on. Medicine is based on an evolutionary/materialistic philosophy whereas Chiropractic is based on a vitalistic philosophy. Philosophies do have an effect on the theory and practice of the health-care system. For instance medicine has looked at the appendix as a residual organ leftover in our evolutionary development. And for years the appendix was routinely removed when surgeons were in the abdomen doing other surgeries. Today we realize that was a mistake because those patients without an appendix have more colon disease and cancer.
Chiropractic philosophy has always respected the body even before we understood how each organ worked, realizing those organs were there for a purpose. The vitalistic philosophy recognizes that if there is a design or intelligence then there is a designer or universal intelligence. Where as materialistic philosophy would look at design as a curious accident. In a vitalistic framework if one was walking in a forest and found a watch there wouldn’t be any questioning about this watch being formed by some marvel of random action. In a vitalistic philosophy man is understood as more than just material or a bag of chemicals. Man has a spiritual component. As we study the effect of attitude upon health we will explore both mental and spiritual attitude.
First it is important to note that scientific studies have proven the effect of spiritual/religious activities on the health of man. People that exercise regular spiritual disciplines such as prayer or even church attendance have been shown to be healthier than the general population. Since our goal with each of our patients is to help you achieve the highest level of health let’s for a minute explore how spiritual and mental attitudes affect our health.
Let’s first look at a positive mental attitude.
If you are a patient reading this pamphlet you have been explained how the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and the billions of nerve fibers) controls and coordinates your body. By definition health is when every organ, part and system of the body is functioning normally and its function is coordinated with the needs, wants, stresses and demands of the body. The basic principle of Chiropractic understands health as the normal expression of the nervous system to each cell in the body and the corresponding feedback from the cells or body to the central nervous system.
The brain and spinal cord are the key components of the central nervous system and the mind is expressed through these structures. Fortunately for us the unconscious mind or subconscious mind primarily is responsible for keeping track of the hundreds of millions of impulses traveling to and from the central nervous system. Our conscious mind would be overwhelmed since some of us have problems chewing gum and walking at the same time. Fortunately our subconscious mind can effortlessly keeping track of all the incoming information and perfectly devise a plan to maintain normal function. Even so our conscious mind does have an effect on our subconscious mind. Study after study shows the connection between the stress that we deal with on a conscious level and a corresponding affect on our subconscious mind and thus our bodies. So when our mind is at peace that has a positive effect on our bodies.
How does this spiritual part of man affect the mental part of man and is there a connection between spirit and body?
There are different disciplines that are considered spiritual in nature. Prayer, meditation, fasting, service to mankind could be considered a short list. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness temperance are considered some of the spiritual attributes. We hear a lot about happiness in our society. Happiness depends on happenings and with a lot of people if good things are happening then they are happy and if bad things are happening then they are sad.
Joy is more of an inward attitude and does not necessarily depend on what’s happening. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones from the writings of Solomon. Many people who have obtained this spiritual attribute can maintain joy even when circumstances would appear adverse. I think if one understands the importance of attitude upon the function of the body one could quickly see how Joy would be better than sadness.
If one could call upon the resources of their spirit to maintain a constant positive attitude then there would be a corresponding benefit to that person’s health. Many scientific studies show this connection. There is a difference between just trying to maintain a positive mental attitude and being able to draw on the resources of one’s own spirit. It’s much like looking at the conscious mind and subconscious mind. If a person’s conscious mind had to maintain all of the bodies’ functions than you can see how overwhelmed and impossible that responsibility would be. Our subconscious mind has more than enough resources to accomplish this task. In the same way as we learn to tap into the resources that are available on a spiritual level we can draw upon positive energies to help maintain a healthy attitude even in a world that is not always positive.
It’s interesting to study the effects on individual lifestyles of people who routinely focus on their spiritual side as opposed to individuals who primarily focus on the physical/mental. Individuals focusing on developing a spiritual nature routinely discard many negative lifestyle habits. It seems that those individuals that ignore this component of their lives become involved in lifestyle practices that over stimulate their systems. ” Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” from the writings of Solomon. The spiritual component of man is more at a deeper level, more inward and individuals who ignore this part of their person tend to over stimulate themselves in the mental and physical areas as if in an effort to distract them from their deeper selves. “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings” from the writings of Solomon.
If you’re reading this and are dealing with chronic health problems, issues with stress such as sleep disorders, depression or anxiety consider exploring the possibility of improving your mental and spiritual attitude through spiritual disciplines. Studies have shown simply doing something for someone else and becoming less focused on oneself can have a dramatic positive effect on one’s health. The effects that prayer and/or meditation have on improving body function and reducing stress with the corresponding depression and anxiety, are well documented. To ignore this area is very short sighted. Just as it is important to feed your physical body good food you need to properly feed your mental and spiritual bodies. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” from the writings of Solomon.