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Is Tone Part of your Practice?

Take a second. Pause. Feel that? The subtle vibrations that fill our world? Thanks to science, we know that everything around us is vibrating at a subatomic level. Even solid objects that are immovable do in fact move and hum with the song of life. Everything in our world is made of atoms, which are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, which themselves are made of smaller particles called quarks that are held together by gluons. How these vibrating particles interact with each other sends out a unique frequency pattern, a signatory tone that when picked up and sensed by the human body, creates the picture of our Universe.

Sara Parsons

Sara Parsons

Stephenson talks about this subtle vibration, the tone of our world, throughout many chapters of the Chiropractic Textbook. He breaks his discussion down to the individual tissue cell, the smallest unit of life, to describe how motion gives meaning to the world around us. While studying this text, it becomes clear that all cells are active and alive, using motion to participate and contribute to the expression of Intelligence, the chiropractic meaning of life (1).

If we dig deeper into an individual cell, we will see the five signs of life at work. The cell membrane is selectively allowing food particles to enter the cell to be used for that cell’s particular job; Assimilation. We see vacuoles gathering waste from the cytoplasm and excreting them into the intracellular space to be swept up and removed from the body; Excretion. The cell receives signals from its environment and responds accordingly by changing the proteins it is manufacturing; Adaptability. As the cell matures the membranes, filaments, organelles, etc., are built up using materials that have been gathered, much like a carpenter uses the material she gathers to build up the frame and structure of a house; Growth. And finally, we observe the propagation of the cell known as mitosis; Reproduction (1).

It may seem like a bit of a divergence to go from talking one moment about vibration and movement to the next moment describing the five signs of life in an individual cell within the human body, but you see, the five signs of life are themselves the expression of subatomic vibrations. Let’s suss it out. The five signs of life are only possible with movement of matter. Movement of matter is only possible with energy. Energy for cellular functioning is provided by transferring phosphorus from a molecule of ATP. That transfer breaks a molecular bond, moves electrons, and changes the way subatomic particles interact with each other, thus changing the vibration produced by the molecule and changing the tone that is expressed.

This brings us to an important chiropractic discussion (Article 236 pgs. 183-184 in the Chiropractic Textbook for those of you that would like to follow along). The vibrations of subatomic molecules are the physical manifestations of universal forces following the physical laws and properties of our universe. Universal forces are themselves destructive, however Innate Intelligence is able to adapt the energy created by the universal vibratory forces present in all matter for proper, constructive cellular functioning. This process allows an individual to interact and adapt to their environment. Some call that health, others call it life, I claim they are one in the same.

Regardless of the name we assign this normal adaptive process, the specific vibrations are expressed as a specific tone. This tone is manifested in the physical nature of the body, and any break from the normal, any change in vibration, will produce a different tone. We see this when muscles are hypertonic, when organ functioning has sped up or slowed down, and when glands are not secreting when they should be secreting. We call these divergences from proper functioning symptoms. The very symptoms that we use to guide us in recognizing the cause of dis-ease every time we assess another human being. These symptoms are merely another word for tone. Both symptoms and tone are the physical manifestation of that person’s Innate ability to adapt and integrate universal forces for constructive use in their day to day survival. I believe that this is what DD Palmer meant when he said that Chiropractic was founded on tone. We chiropractors are masters of observation. By observing the tone of the different parts of the body, we deduce the cause of interference of innate guided adaptation. We then remove that interference with a very specific adjustment, and we allow the body to return to a normal state of tone. A normal state of adaptation. A normal, exquisitely unique, expression of Life.


  1. Stephenson RW. Chiropractic Textbook. Palmer School of Chiropractic: Davenport, IA. 1927.

This article first appeared in the May 2020 issue of Lifelines, the Life West student magazine.


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