The Grace of Impermanence


I love being a mom to my 11 month old daughter, Diana.  She is a happy, healthy baby and such a delight.  Being that she is my third and last child, and that there is a big age gap with her brothers (9 and 11 years old), I am treasuring every moment I can, because I know from experience how short each stage can last.  First time parents have the same wonder, but there can be a tinge of fear.  “Am I doing this right?”  “Is this how it’s supposed to be?”  They may also be anxious to see the next stage.  When you have two or more children close together in age, like my first two, life can get too busy to stop and appreciate the little moments.

The biggest lesson I’m still learning from parenthood and from helping kids in my clinic is impermanence.  What a child can do at 3 months is very different at 11 months.  Temper tantrums at 2 and 3 years old will also pass as the child’s brain develops for reasoning and communication.  A football bench warmer at 12 years old can train and become the star quarterback in a mere 4 years.  It’s possible.  I’ve helped it happen in my clinic.  Even adults can change.  Just because you’ve had migraines your entire adult life so far, doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer the rest of your life.

Impermanence is very much a part of nature.  Days turn into nights and nights turn into days. The colours in the sky change gradually with sunrise and sunset.  Seasons change, plants grow and die and grow again, if left to their own devices.  People who live in hurricane and typhoon-prone tropical islands are masters on impermanence.  Because natural disasters are fairly common and short-lived (the storm only lasts a few hours), once the sun comes out again, it’s time to pick up the pieces and continue with life.

The opposite of impermanence is fixed mindset.  This is when a person takes their current viewpoint or situation and assumes it will stay that way forever.  Unfortunately, this can happen a lot with kids. “He’s the troublemaker.”  “She’s always whiny.”  “He’s not good at sports.”  “She’s good at English, but hopeless in math.”  When it comes to disease and labels, the fixed mindset is even more prominent.  “He has ADHD.  He needs to be on Ritalin for the rest of his life.”  “She has autism and nobody outgrows autism.”  “He’s overweight.  It’s genetic.”  “She’ll never be ‘normal.’”  The problem with the fixed mindset is that if you believe the situation to be permanent, you don’t give the child an opportunity to grow or change.  Even if the child does change, the fixed mindset may make it impossible to see the changes as they occur.   “Once a black sheep of the family, always the black sheep of the family”.  The impulsive child gets blamed even if she wasn’t involved.  And if she tries to change her ways, nobody notices, so she gives up trying.

Another problem with a fixed mindset is the belief that if you’re good at something, you must be good from the start – a “natural”.  The “snowflake” generation of millennials had been told from the start what they were and weren’t good at doing.  But, even if you’re a “natural”, you may face challenges and difficulties down the road.  Then, the fixed mindset tells them they’re not as talented as they seemed, and nothing can be done about it.  I tell my kids that talent is a great starting point, but that’s all that it is… a starting point.  What you do next (practice, learn, develop, repeat) determines how far you’ll go.  A precocious kid at 4 years old who wouldn’t take adult direction won’t be seen as smart at 10 years old… only smart-alecky.

Growth mindset takes impermanence into account.  As you learn, practice and grow, your abilities can change.  Changing the conditions can change the outcome.  A plant in winter may wither, and then come back to life in the spring.  Health can also change with different conditions.  A weak gut needs nourishing, not inflammatory foods.  An injured knee needs a break from damaging exercises.  In cases of people with generalized anxiety or hypersensitivity, we would find multiple spinal levels of nerve irritation.  Gentle chiropractic adjustments can end the nerve irritation and bring about peace of mind and contentment.  Relaxed nerves send more accurate messages to the brain so that the mind and body work together for optimal living.

The nervous system is directly responsible for coordinating all functions in the body and mind, including growth, adaptability, healing, learning, discernment, understanding and decision making, both conscious and unconscious.  That means that your nervous system coordinates digestion, hormonal changes, healing from illness or injury, growth spurts, brain development, perceptions of the world around you, moods, energy level, personality, behaviours, reflexes, instincts and sensitivity.  This nervous system can get damaged or malfunction due to physical, chemical, mental or emotional stressors in life.  That can include falls, injuries, repetitive stress, poor diet, pollution, intoxication, stress, depression, anxiety and fear, among other possibilities.  These stressors can be big or small, one-time events or ongoing.  You may not notice these invisible layers of injury until they reach a threshold level.  Depending on the severity of the injuries, how stressful your current lifestyle is, and your personal tolerance level, the threshold might be reached in a second, a few weeks or only after many years.    At this point, whenever it may be, you may notice pain or other signs and symptoms of altered personality, behaviour problems, emotional distress, organ issues, physical issues, immune weakness or overdrive, learning issues or sensory processing problems.

Corrective chiropractic care is all about changing the conditions in the body so the nervous system can function properly.  Memories of injuries are embedded in the nervous system.  Repeated chiropractic adjustments relieve nerve pressure, to restore normal nerve flow.  Some injuries are more heavily embedded than others, and may have created compensatory problems that also need to be reversed.  Along with lifestyle changes, including a mindset change, it is possible to reverse (or at least change the course of) almost any disease or malfunctioning of the body and mind.  Your body is constantly renewing itself so every day you have the opportunity of replacing old cells, old habits, poor conditions, with healthier new cells and a renewed state of health. When it comes to kids who are just laying the initial groundwork of their body and minds, this is the best time to start a good foundation or alter conditions, if need be.  Together, we can change the future for the better.  The biggest determinant of successfully overcoming health problems is your willingness to stick to the process of changing the underlying conditions.

Would you like your child, or yourself, to be assessed for signs of invisible layers of injury?  Please fill out our Baseline Assessment Questionnaire.  Dr. Sabrina would be pleased to go over this with you during a free consultation, either in-office or over the phone.