Rivers, Whitewash and Healing

Often when I am explaining the healing process and how adjustments work, I use the analogy of a river. This metaphor is a simple one to understand, yet it also explains more complex concepts about healing, bodywork and energetics. I’d like to share it with you here in case you haven’t heard it before in hopes that it will help you understand how your body works, how it breaks down and more importantly, how it can heal itself.

Imagine yourself standing on a bank of a river. As you look upstream, you see a seemingly endless flow of water coming towards you. Then as you turn your head downstream, you watch the river flow off into distance. Right in front of you, you can hear the roar of the whitewash created by the water rushing over huge rocks that lie in the river just a few feet away from you.

Now imagine your body is that river for a moment. Just like a river, your Nervous System sends signals down from your brain, down through your spinal cord and to all of the parts of your body. These signals flow throughout your body, just like a smooth running river, telling you how you feel, beating your heart, digesting your food, repairing damaged tissues, fighting infection, etc. – generally keeping your body healthy.

But imagine if rocks get thrown in your river. At first, the water just flows round a few little rocks and you hardly notice any changes. But as more and more rocks get thrown in, they pile up higher and higher and eventually it starts causing some whitewash in your river. Or if a huge boulder is thrown in, you will surely see the whitewash as the water flows over and around it.

These rocks are little stresses and little injuries that occur in your life. A few here and there, no problem. Your body overcomes them easily, maintaining the normal functioning of your body and you stay healthy. The huge boulder is a major car accident, a ski injury, a massive infection or the death of a loved one. This can suddenly and dramatically alter the flow in your body and your health will suffer because of it.

The more stress that gets piled on and the more injuries you sustain and that you don’t take care of, the more interference with the normal flow of impulses in your Nervous System. Your health starts breaking down and symptoms start appearing. Like the whitewash on your once smooth running river, you start experiencing nagging pains, stiff joints, indigestion, allergies, insomnia, high blood pressure and more. The longer these rocks stay in your river, the worse the symptoms get.

So what is the solution?

Start taking rocks out of your river. This is how I explain how adjustments work. They remove the blockages that are interfering with the normal flow of your healing energy. Once the flow is restored, your body will heal itself. As you start taking rocks out of the river one by one (one adjustment at a time), you will notice the whitewash will reduce (your symptoms will reduce).

But just as it takes time to take all of the rocks out of the river, so too does it take time to remove all of the blockages in your body caused by a lifetime of stress and accumulated injuries. It took time for enough rocks to pile up in your river to start producing whitewash, so too will it take time for your body to rebalance itself, for symptoms to go away and for the body to heal itself from the damage.

Your body’s energy is designed to flow and once those blockages are removed, it will. Whether it’s removing blockages with bodywork or by cleaning up your diet or by apologizing to a loved one, once flow is restored, your body will heal and your health will improve.

So look at yourself a find some areas that you see are blocking your good health coming through you. Is there a chronic injury that you could get some help with? Is there a eating habit or exercise habit you could improve upon? Choose one blockage and commit to doing something to removing that rock so your body’s river can flow more easily and effortlessly.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

Norman Maclean

About the Author

Dr. Jay Warren has been a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor for 17 years. He is also the Wellness Care Coordinator at the CAP Wellness Center in San Diego, CA where 90% of his practice is pregnant or postpartum women and babies under one year old. Dr. Jay is a proud member of the ICPA and APPPAH (the Association or Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health) and the host of the podcast “Healthy Births, Happy Babies” in iTunes. His online program, “Connecting with Baby” guides pregnant women through processes to strengthen maternal bonding for a happier pregnancy, gentler birth and easier post-partum experience. Dr. Jay is also the proud father of his 3 year old son, Niko who keeps him very busy (and happy) outside of the office.