Network Spinal Analysis and the Mind-Body Connection


This is one of my more technical posts about the mind and body, so if you’re not in the mood feel free to skip this one!  If you are in the mood however, I invite you to delve in…

Recently somebody asked me how the care we provide at the Well Being Center deals with “physical” injuries.  They wanted a more detailed explanation about how our very low force approach can create such profound physical (as well as mental and emotional) changes.  This post is an edited version of my communication to them:

Based partly on research by neurosurgeon Alf Breig (refer to his 1978 book Adverse Mechanical Tension in the Central Nervous System) the developer of NSA/SRI, Donny Epstein, noted that tractioning of the spinal cord tissues – including the meningeal sheath/dural attachments at the occiput through the lower cervical spine and sacrum/coccyx- can contribute to multiple cord tension or “phasic” distortions (changes in tensegrity, oscillation and range of motion) in the spinal cord, nerve roots and associated structures.

These physical tension patterns appear to be related to adaptive physiological, biochemical, and emotional defense strategies which can occur during stress or injury.

As the spinal cord is tractioned during reactive fight/flight behavior or injury, the sensory, motor and trophic (growth) functions of nerves can be significantly altered and cell membranes (and neuropeptide receptors on them) can theoretically be distorted.

Read Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert and Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton for more on the psychoimmunoendocrine network and it’s relationship to body structures/tissue tension and the expression of emotion and consciousness.

When the spinal cord is tractioned during the fight/flight reaction, it is estimated that around 1,200 physical/physiological changes occur, including a reduction of blood to certain cortical (higher brain) regions, and an increase in blood to the limbic system (area of brain associated with emotional reaction) and large muscle groups involved in protection/survival behavior.

Connective/soft tissues and muscle tissues can lose flexibility and elasticity, and areas of the spine can become more restricted.  Also, an increase or loss of muscle tone, decreased range of motion and ligamentous tension may occur.  This type of tension is called “passive” tension (based on Panjabi’s model of “Subsytems”).  Passive tension occurs when energy in unable to be fully dissipated through ligaments, discs, and connective tissue structures.

What is interesting about disc inflammation and disc conditions (we’ve seen hundreds of situations involving disc inflammation and irritation over the past 17 years) is that in the scientific literature there appears to be no linear correlation between disc height, inflammation levels or vertebral condition and physical symptoms.

Some people have significant spinal changes such as degeneration, with no symptoms, while others have significant symptoms with no visible degeneration.

One study in The Lumbar Spine (The Lumbar SpineJames Weinstein and Sam Wieseleds., WB Saunders Co,Philadelphia1990) found that in 85% of back pain cases the pain can’t be directly attributed to a physical condition (like a bulging or inflamed disc).

So what is going on?

Neurosurgeon Alf Breig found that excessive spinal cord traction in the cervical spine can significantly increase cord tension in the lumbar spine.  It appears that global spinal cord tension can be created when any of the attachment areas of the meningeal sheath are under stress/tension.  (Imagine holding one end of a rubber band in each hand and then pulling your hands apart.  The tension created is distributed throughout the entire band).

Stress in the form of physical, mental, emotional and chemical irritants can contribute to fight/flight physiology and spinal cord traction/tension.  When cord tension increases, the spine is less flexible, certain areas may become more easily injured, disc herniation and inflammation might be more likely to occur.

All body tissues when under tension change “tone”.  Basically, the vibrational or oscillatory state of cells as it turns out, appears to be related to an acoustic wave phenomenon.  A type of nervous system communication is thought to occur through the tissues as pulsations and undulations known as soliton waves.

Soliton waves are a non-linear form of communication (sound waves) that appear to propagate through nerve tissues.  They appear to be one of the many ways that the holographic/liquid-crystalline (check out the research of Dr. Mae Won Ho) matrix of the body shares information.

Network Spinal Analysis practitioners work with the physical structures of the body, however we do it using very low force applications at specific areas called Spinal Gateways (areas highly receptive to touch).

You can apply more force or less force when you’re working with the body, but using more force doesn’t mean you are being more “physical” than someone using a lighter force application.

You can choose to ignore the subtle-energy, emotional, psychological elements involved in a person’s symptom pattern or condition and just focus on the physical, but that doesn’t mean those other elements aren’t contributing factors.

If you’re in pain, just changing your mindset and hoping the pain will magically go away isn’t likely going to work long term.  It takes an integrated approach – we call this the “Seasons of Well Being“, which is a change in interior consciousness and outward behavior – to affect real reorganizational and integrally informed change .

There is a time to discover the energy, rhythm, beliefs and emotions related to your physical condition.  There is a time to take action and change your behavior.  There is also a time to just be in gratitude and receive the gifts of the symptom or condition.

It is not about right or wrong – you have to look at the consciousness, timing, behaviors, structures and perceptions all at once if you want a true holistic picture.

As soon as you just look at a part of the body without considering all the interior and exterior aspects, you’re actually using a “restorative” approach – allopathic in nature – and calling it holistic.  Holistic takes into consideration all aspects of being, not just the physical symptom or condition.

Somato Respiratory Integration is an approach that we teach that is focused on integrating the somatic-physical-subjective experience (Read Donald Bakal’s book Minding the Body for an in-depth understanding of somatic awareness).

If you have a suspected disc protrusion and inflammation at L5/S1 for example (even if it becomes verified on MRI), the protrusion is not necessarily the “cause” of your pain.

Inflammation is part of a immuno-neurological-emotional system response, which is a reactive cascade of protective and stabilizing mechanisms.  However, inflammation also appears to be related to emotion, and an inability to adequately move energy through the tissues.  Tissue range of motion and emotional expression appear to be intrinsically linked (more on this in a future post).

You can take herbs, use ice or ant-inflammatories to reduce inflammation (all can be very helpful at times), however your internal emotional experience – one that you might have deemed a non-physical experience – is actually a physically-based phenomenon which has an impact on inflammation in your body.

When we view the human body as a dynamic “far-from-equilibrium” system that is continually regenerating itself, instead of as a purely physical structure that mostly stays the same, and we more deeply investigate the connections between the mind and body, we begin to see new possibilities for creating change on the physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual levels.

I will follow-up this post up with additional posts that delve deeper into some of the topics I’ve touched on here.  Feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

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About John Amaral

Santa Cruz Chiropractor Dr. John Amaral has helped thousands of people from over 50 countries transform and awaken to more meaningful and purposeful lives. Follow him on twitter at @johnamaral