• patrick

    The lotus flower symbolizes rising from a dark place into beauty and rebirth, as this is exactly how a lotus flower grows. Lotus flowers grow directly out of muddy and murky waters and produce beautiful white and pink blossoms.

  • PTSD and NSA
    Two weeks out of high school and I was off to the Navy. I was seventeen at the time and had what I would consider at the time to be a healthy respect for authority. As soon as I got to San Diego for boot camp they shaved my head, took my cloths, gave me dog tags, taught me how to walk, eat, stand, fold cloths, everything…. All while being deprived of sleep and on a fairly erratic schedule of pushed emotionally and physically. I never stopped to think “why is this person yelling at me?” Time goes on and I was trained to shoot a missile off of a large ship and trained to do it without thinking…. Repetition, stress, fear of being punished for non-performance, fear of what would happen if I did not perform to me and my ship mates. It was all fear and repetition. Six years later I left the Navy for my next career of becoming a Chiropractor, but it took me at least two years to deprogram myself from being in the military.
    This was my military experience, and as far as these things go I would say I had a pretty easy time of it. Now in my sixteenth year of practice and looking back on that time with a much different perspective I understand why the training happens the way that it does and why it can be hard to let go of trauma. This is what I would like to help others understand, and to also offer some degree of help towards healing.
    It all comes down to the basic survival instincts hardwired into our nervous systems. When we are at rest the nervous system regulates automatically towards digestion, reproduction, contemplation. When put under stress (Let’s say a bear is standing at your door) the nervous system regulates automatically towards fight, flight, or freeze. To say it another way we are ready to fight the bear, run from the bear, or hide from the bear. Along with this the higher levels of thinking stop, digestion slows, muscles tighten to protect the neck, jaw, lower back, the spine becomes more rigid. When running from a bear we are not doing math, contemplating the universe, or concerned with digestion. We are running for our lives, we are running on survival reflexes. This is how it is supposed to be. But only for until 20 minutes after the event has ended.
    Now connect this to the military experience… deprived sleep, stripped of identity, constant and erratic stress, repetition, and life and death situations. Boot camp is designed to force a human into fight or flight and to train the nervous system to do battle. If a soldier is well trained he or she will react to a stressful event without thinking or even feeling; just doing. This serves the soldier to keep alive and perform as expected in all situations…. But here is the catch. No one ever deprograms them. Stuck in fight or flight in the real world. Imagine constantly on guard for the bear to pop out any second. How would it feel to be in that level of heightened alertness? Would it make it hard to fully feel deeper emotions? Have and maintain meaningful relationships? Sleeping? Go through life with happiness and joy with an open heart?
    I like to use the analogy of shifting gears in a car. First gear is really important. First gear gets the car moving when you tell it to. But what if you forget that you have a second, or third, or fourth gear? Life gets going faster, but all we know to use is first gear. It eventually doesn’t end well. But what if there is a way to help the nervous system remember how to shift out of first gear? Shift out of the survival instincts of the sympathetic nervous system into a more relaxed, mentally and emotionally productive, pliable nature of the parasympathetic nervous system.
    When a person is resting they breath deeper, hold their body more easily and in general have less tension in their mind and bodies. Using chiropractic manual techniques does help with the structural tensions in the spine, but also can increase the amount of fight or flight defense in the spine making it become even more rigid. In the past few years I have begun to use gentler techniques (network spinal analysis, craniosacral, visceral manipulation, somatoemotional release) to help people of all kinds learn how to dissipate tension in their body systems and come out of fight or flight. This involves learning to breathe and developing awareness in the body. As the tension in the body starts to drop out the breathing naturally becomes fuller and more fluid. On a larger perspective it connects the mental, emotional and structural systems of the person. When the body comes out of the permanent state of fight or flight and regulates into being able to easily shift between “all the gears”.

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