I want to pre-warn you that my inner chiropractor will be coming out in this post. This post is philosophical, but it is something near and dear to how I view the body. It was revolutionary to my thinking of how our bodies heal and function (and were created to do so). If it blew my mind I think it has the potential to do the same for yours!
We have amazing bodies. Stop and think about that for a second. A real long second. (Are you thinking?) Do you get that we were created magnificently? Amazingly? Wonderfully? It’s true and I want to explain this concept in the idea of our body being created to be a vitalistic body and not a mechanistic body. Bear with me through this philosophy because this will come full circle and apply to you.
We have a vitalistic body. That means that our bodies are self-healing and self-regulating. That means that our bodies are dynamic healing machines that heal from the inside out (Not the outside in!).
Others believe that our bodies are only mechanistic. This is our medical systems belief. The basic definition of mechanism is that our body is NO greater than the sum of its parts. If you take all of the parts out, each of the parts are just as strong and powerful as the whole thing working together. It’s like a mechanic and your car. They take apart the car and find the bad part. They focus only on that part (because our cars are mechanistic) and fix that part. Then the car runs better. The parts are only parts in a car.
What is Vitalism?
Vitalism can be defined as the belief that we were created by God who makes us alive and coordinates all functions of life. That means that we are self-healing and self-regulating. We are born with an innate intelligence that sustains and nourishes every part of our body. That includes growth, cell function, healing, the immune system, digestive system, breathing, thinking everything else.
Our bodies are vitalistic.
What is Mechanism?
Like I said above, this is how our medical system thinks. Mechanism is the opposite of vitalism. Mechanism says that the body is the sum of its parts. It doesn’t believe that they work intrinsically together. (In vitalism the body is much greater and more powerful than the sum of its parts.) Here are a few examples in how our medical system uses a mechanistic view.
- Our genetics are our destiny
- What we eat doesn’t matter
- Calories in vs calories out equals weight loss
- Drugs and surgery make us healthy and are necessary
- Having specialists that know more and more about less and less. For example you go to a specialist for your thyroid. They don’t look at anything but the thyroid and don’t take into consideration the other parts of the body intertwining itself into thyroid function (ex. gluten, vitamin D, heavy metals, other halogens like fluoride and chlorine, the gut). Vitalism looks at how these all go together.
Before you start to think I am totally against the medical system I want to clarify a few things. I believe there is a time or place for medicine. It is an emergency medical system. If I get hurt and deeply cut my arm, I want to be in this system. They have all the tools to get me back to where I need to be. But don’t be fooled. This is not a health care system. Looking at our bodies in a mechanistic way does not build health.
How does this Vitalism thing apply to me?
If you have an understanding of vitalism you have a greater understanding and appreciation for your body. How does this look like in every day life?
- You believe that your body is doing the right thing at the right time (example is a virus raising up your temperature creating a fever. It’s normal and is there to kill off the virus by raising it above the temperature the virus needs to survive)
- Knowing that colds, the flu and other viruses are a part of building a natural immune system and WILL produce a stronger body
- You know that healing takes time. There is time needed to heal an injured muscle because all of the parts need to regenerate to make it strong again
- You know that if your body is a robust healing machine it is capable of healing with natural means. Drugs are not what makes us well. You can work with your innate intelligence with herbs, nutrients, healing foods, chiropractic, acupuncture, and other healing modalities to get well (and truly healthy)
- Food is powerful medicine and what we eat makes a huge impact in our health. Can I get an AMEN on this one?
- Our bodies are science factories and not calorie counters. Weight loss is not just about calories in vs calories out. There is way more to it! (Inflammation and hormone resistance)
- The knowledge and understanding that our bodies are interconnected. For example our gut and our brains work together. So if we are experiencing brain things, then it is probably stemming from the gut. And then learning about how the gut works to heal that to in turn help brain health.
Are you getting excited about this? I hope you are because I am excited for you to be reading this as I type this.
If you aren’t convinced yet or want more information think about how we are created. Let’s rewind to the beginning. We start with two small cells: the egg cell and the sperm cell. The cells joined and they grew (and grew and grew) into millions of different cells. And these cells started early on to form organs in the body (heart and nervous system being the first). This all happens without any input by us. And about 40 weeks later our bodies start labor (once again on our own) and we give birth to this beautiful and perfect human being. That is the true example to me of an innate intelligence given to us by God that knows how to grow a human being. No doctor or scientist (or chiropractor for that matter) can do this!
I want to leave you with the understanding that we have amazing and dynamic bodies. With vitalism we can utilize our innate power to heal our bodies. We can view nutrition as a source of nourishment of our bodies to build them as strong as possible. We can look as exercise as a way to strengthen our bodies and not only to lose weight. It affects our whole decision making process in our health.
I hope this article has helped you GROW in your understanding of our amazing bodies!
What’s one way you can apply Vitalism to your health?
What the Heck is VITALISM, anyway?
Vitalism is a word we hear all the time in the “Chiroverse”. Yet it is term we pretty much never hear from anywhere else.
Like-minded non-chiropractic people use words we recognize, such as “holistic” and “natural” and even sometimes “innate”.
But you only hear the word VITALISM in a chiropractic office.
Why do we use this little known word, vitalism and not a much more popular word like holism?
Why do we insist on vitalism?
Merriam Webster online dictionary has this definition for the popular word holism:
1: relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts <holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body> <holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system>
Merriam-Webster dictionary online defines vitalism this way:
1: a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces
2: a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining
We use Vitalism because it has a Distinction that is important.
Holism (whole-ism) is about the way that things work together. Holism describes a whole community of parts or people or processes. Holism can apply to any ecosystem, from a planet, to a human body, to a cell. It means that each discrete part of a system is always working in concert with all the other parts, even when we cannot perceive that interaction. It means that you cannot reach into an ecosystem and just tweak one little thing and not have an effect (large or small) on all the parts of the system as a consequence.
Holism acknowledges the intricacy of a living system but does not account for anything beyond an incredibly complete and complex machine. Holism does not acknowledge intelligence.
Vitalism takes the concept of holism and adds that essential ingredient: intelligence.
Vitalism says that we must look beyond the wholeness (holistic) of the ecosystem and acknowledge that there is an intelligence that runs the system which cannot (currently) be measured.
The Merriam – Webster definition refers to this intelligence by stating “that life is in some part self-determining”.
Vitalism is a recognition that the most amazing thing about LIVING things is not just the brilliant completeness and complexity of living systems but the intelligence behind living matter.
If you believe that vitalism is the stronger (better, more complete) concept, then you are a VITALISTS.
Vitalism includes Holism. Holism does not include Vitalism.
Vitalism is incredibly valuable because we offer something distinct. We offer something that people “know” but have seldom heard explained. Vitalists offer a belief system that people can do something with.
As a vitalist, we says, “I find the interrelated machinery in the human body fascinating, but wait, there is something MORE to this equation”. We are more than complex machines. We are designed with inborn individual intelligence and we have the ability to heal and adapt based upon that individual deep inner intelligence.
Vitalists believe that the entire human experience (including health) is run by the immense inborn intelligence of our human bodies. This intelligence is not our brain (although Innate intelligence lies there as well). It is an inborn innate intelligence which runs inside every cell and particle of our body. Innate intelligence is the internal consciousness of our own body – which runs completely separately from our intellectual consciousness. Vitalism focuses in that genius level intelligence which is always on the job – but operating at a level above anyone’s ability to measure it and collect data on it.
Holism explains the interconnectedness and necessity of ALL the machinery. But holism does not explain how or why it all works together.
A vitalist understands that our intelligence is what “runs” the machinery. Our innate intelligence is the operator.
As vitalists, we make different choices. We strive to tap into that intelligence and support it rather than work around it or bypass it with our technology.
When we make a choice to go back to a natural approach, this is not about devaluing technology or science. Vitalism is about adding back into the equation the brilliance inside every cell of the human body and allowing that to be the starting place, and the greatest authority, when trying to help people.
We, as Chiropractors, are Vitalists.
When we detect and correct the vertebral subluxation, we restore function and communication between the innate intelligence and the rest of the body. Our focus is squarely on the intelligence within the body and doing what is necessary to allow every human being to be in the highest level of contact with that intelligence.
We do that by removing interference to the nerve system. We do that by educating people to think and therefore behave differently. We do that empowerment families and communities to believe in their own body’s abilities, and we show them how to do it.