LISA ANN CATANO shares some of the research findings in epigenetics that show us that our genes are affected by our beliefs and thinking more than we realize.
Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist who was at the University of Wisconsin cloning human muscle cells, is best known for challenging the existing belief that the human body is controlled by genes. In his video The Biology of Perception, he demonstrates to the audience that perception affects biology.
In one of his experiments, a stem cell was isolated and put into a petri dish (a cell-culture dish), where it divided every ten hours. The cells were then split up into three groups and placed into separate petri dishes, each of which contained different growth mediums. In the first dish the cells formed bone, in the second dish they formed muscle, and in the third dish they formed fat cells. All of the cells were genetically identical when they were first separated, yet each dish produced different results.
Dr. Lipton’s research is life changing for all of us,
because his research enunciates that
we have the power to choose our destiny at any given point.
From victims we can become masters of our lives,
as we can determine how we respond to the environment.
Why was this so? Since the genes were all identical, the differences arose because of the environment in which they were placed. The environment was the stimulus to which the cells responded, which means genes respond to their environment. It is the genes’ perception of their environment that causes them to behave in a certain way.
We have been taught that our genes determine our lives — our behaviour, emotions, character, health, and biology — and that we do not have any control over our lives. We have been told that our genes are inherited from our family and we are a victim to this heredity: If there is cancer in your family, you are vulnerable to that illness; if your father or mother were prone to addiction, you will to some extent be the same, or feel entitled to justify similar behaviour. This brings about a feeling of powerlessness, that your life is destined to be a certain way because of your genes. So a kind of apathy takes over, a ‘Why should I try?’ attitude.
Dr. Lipton’s research is life changing for all of us, because his research enunciates that we have the power to choose our destiny at any given point. From victims we can become masters of our lives, as we can determine how we respond to the environment. Of course the genetic patterns are there, but they are not as fixed as we once believed.
Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
– Viktor E. Frankl
You were born into the world without any beliefs, and since you learned to believe certain things through the instruction of your parents, education, and social systems, you have the ability to unlearn them and try new ones. As you change your thinking, you change your mind and biology, which culminates in an evolved reality.
In addition to the new understanding that perception influences behaviour, Dr. Lipton goes even deeper by saying that perception not only influences genes, but it also rewrites them! Like any living being, the cell is a conscious organism. By virtue of its state of consciousness, the cells’ perception of the environment is what controls the gene. In his study, Dr. Lipton provides proof of how a belief actually switches on a gene.
To demonstrate the power of belief, let’s take the example of our beloved insect, the bumble bee. Aerodynamically the bumble bee is not really designed to fly. This is apparent in observing its rounded hairy body that is much larger than the little wings that struggle to carry it. Now imagine that someone repeatedly told the bumble bee at a young age that she was not designed for flight; do you suppose she would be flying today? Of course not, and yet the bumble bee flies nonetheless, even if a bit clumsily at times. Belief is powerful and can often override the most logical reasoning.
When the mind is peaceful,
we are free from worries and mental discomfort,
and we begin to experience true happiness.
In this state of grace and Godliness,
healing can be restored.
A Medical Example
In his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl G. Jung describes a patient sent by an American colleague with the accompanying diagnosis: “Alcoholic neurasthenia: incurable.” Jung discovered that the patient was struggling to hold onto his manhood in a tyrannical relationship with his mother. According to Jung she was a “power devil.” She owned a large firm where the son worked and was very unhappy. Due to her power games, he chose to drink as a way of self-medicating. He did not have the adequate self-belief or strength of character to stand up to her, or resign from the comfort of the wealthy family business.
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Jung took the initiative, behind his back, to give his mother a medical certificate stating his inability to carry out his work-related responsibilities due to his alcoholism, and recommended his redundancy. Although the man was furious with Jung (albeit an unethical move for a medical practitioner), he went on to create a life in which he thrived. He built a successful career, among other things, and his wife was extremely grateful to Jung for his instinctive approach to what seemed like a hopeless case. The man gave up drinking and his character developed and strengthened handsomely.
This is a fine example of a man who generated a wholesome life and personality by changing the constituents of his environment. By removing himself from a negative situation that did no service to his character, he was able to create a new life.
Meditation and visualization are strong repertoires for holistic health and vitality. Studies illustrate that meditation can diminish all kinds of physical diseases and psychological disorders. The immune system, blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels, and even cellular health can all be improved. Psychologically, meditation reduces depression and anxiety disorders, ADHD, bipolar disorder, addiction, and eating disorders, among others.
Meditation actually makes structural changes to the brain and reprograms the DNA. The way neurons communicate with each other can change and thus create new circuits. Some brain regions become denser than others and others become less dense. Neurogenesis and neuroplasticity improve, including memory, critical thinking, and overall cognitive functionality.
Meditation alters perception and the mind. It is a method for acquainting our minds with virtue. The more familiar our mind is with virtue, the calmer and more peaceful it becomes. When the mind is peaceful, we are free from worries and mental discomfort, and we begin to experience true happiness. In this state of grace and Godliness, healing can be restored. Thus, the practice of meditation confirms the outcome of Dr. Lipton’s experiments, which state that perception influences genes and can also rewrite them.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, C.G. Jung & Aniella Jaffe, 1963, Pantheon Books.
About Lisa Ann Catano
Lisa lives in South Africa and is a writer, New Insights life coach, and currently training to become a recovery coach through the Foundation Clinic. Lisa is passionate about empowering people, conscious awareness and being a flame of love. Her life experience has taught her about the importance of change in one’s life and to always learn, unlearn and relearn.
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