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SHAME: How To Beat The Two-System Blame Game That Takes Us Down & Keeps Us Stuck

We overcome shame by noticing and admitting our dynamics, processing hurt feelings, thinking differently to gain positive new perspectives, and acting in ways that build resources to improve our lives. All these obstacles require that we endure the uncomfortable lies and mediocre ways of being we have learned and are now unlearning.

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Shame is the belief that we are fundamentally flawed, bad, or worthless. We can shame others by attacking their person, and we can shame ourselves through negative self-talk and self-sabotage.

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Shame is different from guilt, because guilt is to feel badly about something we have done; shame is to feel badly about who we are. We might develop shame because we have been shamed at some point in our life. Shame can be a kind of anger and violence directed at ourselves or others.

Shame can get us into a vicious cycle of sabotaging ourselves, as if to prove to ourselves, to validate and enforce the belief of how worthless we perceive ourselves to be. This can be a form of self-abuse used to violently express our anger, often unconsciously. Self-shame also helps us remain in a victim role, as we victimize ourselves with self-administered punishment and negative reinforcement.

When shamed, we develop an internal persona that feels badly about who we are as a person. As a result, we might condemn ourselves, feel less-than, and perceive the world negatively. Shame is also often concomitant with some degree of depression, when we feel worthless. Yet, this feeling of worthlessness might be more a symptom of depression than bona fide shame. On the other hand, depression can also arise from being shamed by others and by ourselves.

Surprisingly, it can be scary to leave the insular world of shame. To maintain this suffocation and prevent against realizing that we have been living a small life and that we can change our reality by working through our shame, we seem to find every justification to stay in our little box of mediocrity.

To this end, we sabotage ourselves, turn away goodness (also because we don’t yet know how to let it in,) engage in negative perspectives and consider these negative beliefs we have learned and to which we have grown accustomed to be facts about who we are. Of course, this is not the case, as we can change our beliefs and perspectives, even if we have harboured shame for a long time.

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One-Two Punch

Shame is a one-two punch in that it both creates a negative and impoverished sense of self and it perpetuates that poverty.

Shame’s first punch is a negative self-image dealt to us by impoverished and condemning others. To heal the punitive false beliefs about our core sense of self we need to contact and reprogram this narrative. To recover through shame we also need to address the emotions caused by the violence done to us, emotions that often remain repressed until we confront and begin to work with our shame.

We can uproot, unearth, and replace the negative operating system of false beliefs about ourselves. Releasing any pent-up rage, fear, and sadness from being unloved and shamed instead is also key because these emotions keep us stuck, especially by preventing us from receiving goodness. This way we can disarm shame’s first, original blow.

Shame’s second punch is a fear of feeling shame again, of admitting and seeing shame’s first punch. If we were to see shame’s architecture inside us, we might shame ourselves for being this way, which is to shame ourselves more and build more shame on top of shame’s first punch. In other words, shame scares us into believing that we would shame ourselves for admitting and embodying our original shame.

So, not only do we have the first punch of a negative shame operating in us, but to recognize and reveal that programming can trigger more shame: self-shaming ourselves on top of that shame that’s already there. This is why shame is particularly insidious: it prevents us from pursuing our healing because we shut down our recognition of it for fear of activating our self-criticism, the critical shame that hurt us in the first place.

Shame’s second punch might trigger this kind of self-talk: “Oh God, I’m so awful for having these feelings, for failing, and for being such a loser for so long.” Of course, if we are afraid of this voice, we might knee-jerk into shutting down awareness of our shame altogether so we don’t have to feel worse for self-judging ourselves over our shame. This of course only keeps our shame hidden and lethal.

Shame, self-condemnation and judgment can also develop through unhealthy envy. It’s one thing to feel envy — to covet what someone else has — but it’s another to spin a story about our unworthiness or being a complete failure because of it. Competitiveness can spark us to excel and even be fun, but when it’s used as a weapon against us, it becomes toxic and leads to shame that gets in the way of our thriving.

When we can recognize when shame’s second punch is being delivered, we can cut through its lies to get to our core shame. Remembering that shame’s first punch is not our fault and something we learned from someone else, often as vulnerable children, we can similarly work with shame’ second punch the same way. We can treat  shaming ourselves over our shame the same way we do our original shame: deconstruct, reprogram, and release any toxic emotions in our shame. Expressing and acting with self-compassion is crucial at this point as we allow the stuck feelings to emerge and learn to treat ourselves kindly and to tolerate relationships that also treat us well.

Sadly, we often learn shame’s second punch from those who dealt us the first. We might even hear in our own self-shame the haunting echo of a parent, sibling, or teacher. We break through shame’s double-whammy by recognizing the dynamics of all this. If we’re not able to notice and admit it, we don’t stand a good chance to heal shame that keeps us down. After all, we all have wounds, and to be a grown-up means to take responsibility for our own healing and not remain in old beliefs that perpetuate our mediocrity. In fact, healing our emotional wounds is a key initiation into adulthood, as we learn to free up the vitality, creativity, and aliveness that got squelched in us once ago.

Comfortably Numb

Part of the cage of negativity shame builds for us seeks to keep us in that cage. We humans like to stick with what we know. Believe it or not, it’s easier to remain stuck (and remain bitter) than to break free and learn a new way of being. To break out of the shame-game requires courage, humility, and an ability to tolerate the fear of scary emotions and to live outside our comfort zone.

If we have not recognized and decoded shame’s dynamic in us, we keep our world small by shooting down solutions, thwarting goodness and dismissing promising opportunities—because we don’t believe we deserve them. And, a less obvious reason why we do this is that growing into accepting goodness and abundance would rattle our comfortable, familiar cage and put us in touch our sense of unworthiness. It’s much easier to stay small and bitter rather than confront our fears and shadow by acting differently.

If we don’t mount the fight to overcome shame, it will cleverly and often covertly (beneath our awareness) sabotages goodness, as if to say, “See, it’s true, life is unfair and I’m right about how useless and worthless I am.” Mounting this “fight” against shame, mind you, includes lots of self-acceptance and self-compassion, because part of healing shame is to recognize the survival dynamics of why we developed shame: because once ago when we were unawares and powerless at the behest of adults, we took on shame for a fear of offending or upsetting our elders for fear that we would be abandoned by them—physically and/or emotionally.

Of course, these fears may not be true and to a child they are as real and terrifying as anything. As adults, these shameful beliefs we harbor aren’t factual unless we make them so. It’s the lie we tell to further sabotage ourselves. It’s what we secretly do to fend off the scariness of change and the realizations that come with it, which often includes some remorse for not doing the healing work sooner. But, hey, better late than never, and we can grieve and shake off the lost months and years so that we at least rescue the remainder of our life from the shackles of shame’s iron fist.

So, if we don’t recognize our shame, we never get to move beyond our illusory limitations. We never get to experience, hang onto, and build upon abundance because we don’t believe we are worth it. This goodness is so incongruous with our perceived self-image and inner dialogue that we just aren’t able to accept it, hold onto it and build upon it . . . until we break through. Having the cognitive understanding of shame’s first and second punches helps us navigate and cope ahead as we travel healing shame’s unsettling and unsettled waters.

Becoming Conscious

We will do almost anything to keep ourselves down, just the way we are, so we don’t have to confront our shame and all the dreadful emotions and regrets that come with it. Often, we do this unconsciously. But if we can see the territory before entering into it, then we have a better chance to move beyond the apparent roadblocks that prevent us from healing the toxic mess shame makes of our lives.

Shame operates unconsciously until we become conscious of it. Some of these unconscious mechanisms include gambling away our savings, talking ourselves out of or compulsively rejecting an attractive and worthwhile partner and coming up with many reasons not to accept better opportunities. These include a) focusing on and emphasizing the negative or risky aspects of anything new b) attacking others’ suggestions for how to move into a different and better life and to make different, often uncomfortable, changes c) treating ourselves poorly by not exercising or eating poorly, and c) repeatedly recreating stressful, impoverished, abusive scenarios.

Shaming, especially what we receive from an early age, is pernicious. While we might feel that the people who shamed us or otherwise instilled worthlessness in us might be evil and deserving of the cruelest punishment, at some point we have to be willing to move beyond blame. Paradoxically, at first this might look like unleashing our hatred towards them in a safe, therapeutic context in which we let out our venom for being abused. We don’t have to express ourselves directly to the person who shamed and hurt us. Working with a psychotherapist can help determine appropriate action and how to vent and purge without causing more damage and burning bridges in the process. As this toxicity is purged, we naturally move through and eventually beyond blame . . . and shame.

By releasing the hatred in our toxic shame instead of directing it towards ourselves or others, we also diffuse the backlog of anguish we have used to punish and keep ourselves down (as well as our loved ones). Simultaneously, we learn to talk and treat ourselves more kindly. As we take responsibility, learn to receive goodness from everyone and everything, we might find we stop blaming the world for our misfortune . . . which we realize was just a way for us to defend against healing and moving through the gauntlet of shame.

So yes, we have obstacles, yes we have suffered, yes we have some tough healing to do. Yes we are angry and full of rage, yes we didn’t deserve it and yes we have every good reason to be exactly as pissed off and resentful as we are. At the same time, we have every reason to take responsibility for and transform our current state and reclaim our lives. We overcome shame by noticing and admitting our dynamics, processing hurt feelings, thinking differently to gain positive new perspectives, and acting in ways that build resources to improve our lives. All these obstacles require that we endure the uncomfortable lies and mediocre ways of being we have learned and are now unlearning. This way we learn to tolerate goodness until it becomes a new normal.

In Sum

Tolerating newfound goodness from the graveyard of shame can be difficult because it pushes our buttons; it flies in the face of who we have believed and witnessed ourselves to be. This is part of why we sabotage and try to keep our world small: so we don’t have to deal with the distress of cognitive dissonance, of moving beyond our self-image, which only keeps our world small and suffering large.

Another reason we might not want to confront goodness and abundance is that we might have to stop complaining and condemning as much. Yet another reason is because we might wake up to the fact that we have been sabotaging ourselves for a long time, maybe years or decades. And this sad realization can sink us into grief or even depression. So, coming out of shame is no small task and if the going gets too rough or we can’t seem to break through, it’s probably best to seek the support of a therapist.

Once we see the dynamics of shame’s one-two punch—how it diminishes our lives and then perpetuates that poverty—we can set out with courage and confidence and appropriate humility to purge the toxic emotional backlog, rewrite the narrative for our self-care and care of others, and inhabit a new life of prosperity. Heck, one day we might even help others heal from their own toxic shame. If you or someone you love suffers from shame, I hope this writing has helped you.


About The Author

Jack Adam Weber, L.Ac., MA, is Chinese medicine physician, having graduated valedictorian of his class in 2000. He has authored hundreds of articles, thousands of poems, and several books. Weber is an activist for embodied spirituality and writes extensively on the subjects of holistic medicine, emotional depth work, and mind-body integration, all the while challenging his readers to think and act outside the box. Weber’s latest creation is the Nourish Practice, a deeply restorative, embodied meditation practice as well as an educational guide for healing the wounds of childhood. His work can be found at jackadamweber.com, on Facebook, or Twitter, where he can also be contacted for life-coaching and medical consultations.

A Quick Important Notice:

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Consciousness

7 Thought-Provoking Short Films You Can Watch Now For Free Online

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Film has the ability to capture our emotions and move us in what are sometimes very productive ways. We'll show you 7 thought-provoking short films you might love watching.

  • Reflect On:

    How do these films make you feel from watching them? How do they relate to your own life? What action can you take after watching these?

The world of film has always captivated me. Whether it be its ability to present a supernatural reality I’ll never get to experience, or its ability to accurately depict an emotion I can relate to, there really is something surreal about going to or staying in to watch a movie.

And while the subscription numbers to popular film and television streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime certainly suggest that I likely don’t need to sell you on choosing to watch them, I do believe that a pitch needs to be made for the particular variety of them that I’m suggesting within this article.

That variety of course, is short films. The unofficial younger sibling to feature-length films that aside from those that happen to play before a popular Pixar film, or those that are nominated for an Academy Award, often go largely unnoticed by the masses. So I’d like to present a list of 7 thought-provoking independently made short films that you can watch for free online now as part of the Spirit Film Festival until the end of October.

1. Uncaptured

How often do you consciously choose to sit in silence? And better yet, is it even readily available to you? The short film Uncaptured explores the emotional and physical impact that setting aside conscious time to be in silence can have on the thoughts, programs and belief systems we have stored within us.

Through a series of interviews we are given insight in alignment with the famous Thomas Carlyle quote the film presents just after its title card: “Silence is as deep as eternity; Speech is as shallow as time.” WATCH UNCAPTURED

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2. The Nine Billion Names of God

Based on the book by Arthur C. Clarke -most infamously known as to co-writer of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Stanley Kubrick –The Nine Billion Names of God tells the story of a Tibetan monk who seeks to list all of the names of God with the help an automatic sequence computer.

Based in 1957, the short film is beautifully shot and is carried from start to finish by a beautiful score, perfectly setting the stage for a thought-provoking adventure. WATCH THE NINE BILLIONS NAMES OF GOD

3. Leave Of Presence

If you were asked to list what would make you happy in life, a well-paying job and vibrant social life would likely make the list. Yet the presence of both of those elements didn’t stop Sudha Suthanthiram from dropping everything to head to India in search of her true calling.

This short narrative film runs less than 5 minutes in length yet it offers great food for thought for all of us questioning our purpose in life. WATCH LEAVE OF PRESENCE

4. Nectar of Devotion

Nectar of Devotion shares the fascinating transition made by the one-time frontman for an acid rock band into GuruGanesha Singh Khalsa. While his former life offered much of the surface-level pleasures that so many of us fantasize about, GuruGanesha delves into how his new life has created a happiness unlike ever before.

The short film runs under 7 minutes in length and goes into detail on the difficulties associated with making the transition and how his new kirtan rock band is making the type of impact he always desired having on others. WATCH NECTAR OF DEVOTION

5. Graham: A Dog’s Story

Whether or not you consider yourself a dog lover, Graham: A Dog’s Story is a funny and touching short film told from the perspective of a dog. From being introduced into the family, to “letting go” we’re led through so many of the stages that owners and their favorite pets often go through in life without much attention.

While the short film is carried by a comedic voiceover, it delves into many unexpected stages of a dog’s life including the impact that they have on us even long after they are gone. WATCH GRAHAM: A DOG’S STORY

6. Bekia

In just 6 minutes, Bekia powerfully shares the story of Hamdy, a seller of used goods doing everything he can to make a living on the streets of Cairo. Director Alia Adel effectively takes us into a world that most of us would never have otherwise known about.

The short is beautifully shot and well worth 6 minutes of your life. WATCH BEKIA

7. I Am Here

I Am Here is a unique short put together by the National Film Board of Canada that follows a mysterious animated travellers journey to discover the origin of life. Carried by a riveting score by composer duo Menalon, the film delves into themes and subject matter we would all benefit from pondering on.

Running just over 5 minutes in length, I Am Here manages to take a look at a lot of the questions so many of us have buried within us. WATCH I AM HERE

A Quick Important Notice:

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

SUPPORT CE HERE!

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Awareness

Epigenetic Memories Are Passed Down 14 Successive Generations, Game-Changing Research Reveals

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    It's amazing how much information can be passed on to our offspring. Scientist have discovered that our DNA has memories, and these can also be passed down. We are talking about thoughts, feelings, emotions and perceptions.

  • Reflect On:

    Biological changes are shaped by our environment, as well as our thoughts, feelings, emotions and reaction to that environment. Our DNA can be changed with belief, the placebo is a great example. Thoughts feelings and emotions are huge in biology.

This article was written by the Greenmedinfo research group, from Greenmedinfo.com. Posted here with permission.

Until recently, it was believed that our genes dictate our destiny. That we are slated for the diseases that will ultimately beset us based upon the pre-wired indecipherable code written in stone in our genetic material. The burgeoning field of epigenetics, however, is overturning these tenets, and ushering in a school of thought where nurture, not nature, is seen to be the predominant influence when it comes to genetic expression and our freedom from or affliction by chronic disease.

Epigenetics: The Demise of Biological Determinism

Epigenetics, or the study of the physiological mechanisms that silence or activate genes, encompasses processes which alter gene function without changing the sequence of nucleotide base pairs in our DNA. Translated literally to mean “in addition to changes in genetic sequence,” epigenetics includes processes such as methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation, sumolyation, and ubiquitylation which can be transmitted to daughter cells upon cell division (1). Methylation, for example, is the attachment of simple methyl group tags to DNA molecules, which can repress transcription of a gene when it occurs in the region of a gene promoter. This simple methyl group, or a carbon bound to three hydrogen molecules, effectively turns the gene off.

Post-translational modifications of histone proteins is another epigenetic process. Histones help to package and condense the DNA double helix into the cell nucleus in a complex called chromatin, which can be modified by enzymes, acetyl groups, and forms of RNA called small interfering RNAs and microRNAs (1). These chemical modifications of chromatin influence its three-dimensional structure, which in turn governs its accessibility for DNA transcription and dictates whether genes are expressed or not.

We inherit one allele, or variant, of each gene from our mother and the other from our father. If the result of epigenetic processes is imprinting, a phenomenon where one of the two alleles of a gene pair is turned off, this can generate a deleterious health outcome if the expressed allele is defective or increases our susceptibility to infections or toxicants (1). Studies link cancers of nearly all types, neurobehavioral and cognitive dysfunction, respiratory illnessesautoimmune disorders, reproductive anomalies, and cardiovascular disease to epigenetic mechanisms (1). For example, the cardiac antiarrhythmic drug procainamide and the antihypertensive agent hydralazine can cause lupus in some people by causing aberrant patterns of DNA methylation and disrupting signalling pathways (1).

Genes Load the Gun, Environment Pulls the Trigger

Pharmaceuticals, however, are not the only agents that can induce epigenetic disturbances. Whether you were born via vaginal birth or Cesarean section, breastfed or bottle-fed, raised with a pet in the house, or infected with certain childhood illnesses all influence your epigenetic expression. Whether you are sedentary, pray, smoke, mediate, do yoga, have an extensive network of social support or are alienated from your community—all of your lifestyle choices play into your risk for disease operating through mechanisms of epigenetics.

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In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that genetics account for only 10% of disease, with the remaining 90% owing to environmental variables (2). An article published in the Public Library of Science One (PLoS One) entitled “Genetic factors are not the major causes of chronic diseases” echoes these claims, citing that chronic disease is only 16.4% genetic, and 84.6% environmental (3). These concepts make sense in light of research on the exposome, the cumulative measure of all the environmental insults an individual incurs during their life course that determines susceptibility to disease (4)

In delineating the totality of exposures to which an individual is subjected over their lifetime, the exposome can be subdivided into three overlapping and intertwined domains. One segment of the exposome called the internal environment is comprised of processes innate to the body which impinge on the cellular milieu. This encompasses hormones and other cellular messengers, oxidative stress, inflammation, lipid peroxidation, bodily morphology, the gut microbiotaaging and biochemical stress (5).

Another portion of the exposome, the specific external environment, consists of exposures including pathogens, radiation, chemical contaminants and pollutants, and medical interventions, as well as dietary, lifestyle, and occupational elements (5). At an even broader sociocultural and ecological level is the segment of the exposome called the general external environment, which may circumscribe factors such as psychological stress, socioeconomic status, geopolitical variables, educational attainment, urban or rural residence, and climate (5).

Transgenerational Inheritance of Epigenetic Change: Endocrine Disruptors Trigger Infertility in Future Generations

Scientists formerly speculated that epigenetic changes disappear with each new generation during gametogenesis, the formation of sperm and ovum, and after fertilization. However, this theory was first challenged by research published in the journal Science which demonstrated that transient exposure of pregnant rats to the insecticide methoxychlor, an estrogenic compound, or the fungicide vinclozolin, an antiandrogenic compound, resulted in increased incidence of male infertility and decreased sperm production and viability in 90% of the males of four subsequent generations that were tracked (1).

Most notably, these reproductive effects were associated with derangements in DNA methylation patterns in the germ line, suggesting that epigenetic changes are passed on to future generations. The authors concluded, “The ability of an environmental factor (for example, endocrine disruptor) to reprogram the germ line and to promote a transgenerational disease state has significant implications for evolutionary biology and disease etiology” (6, p. 1466). This may suggest that the endocrine-disrupting, fragrance-laden personal care products and commercial cleaning supplies to which we are all exposed may trigger fertility problems in multiple future generations.

Transgenerational Inheritance of Traumatic Episodes: Parental Experience Shapes Traits of Offspring

In addition, traumatic experiences may be transmitted to future generations via epigenetics as a way to inform progeny about salient information needed for their survival (7). In one study, researchers wafted the cherry-like chemical acetophenone into the chambers of mice while administering electric shocks, conditioning the mice to fear the scent (7). This reaction was passed onto two successive generations, which shuddered significantly more in the presence of acetophenone despite never having encountered it compared to descendants of mice that had not received this conditioning (7).

The study suggests that certain characteristics of the parental sensory environment experienced before conception can remodel the sensory nervous system and neuroanatomy in subsequently conceived generations (7). Alterations in brain structures that process olfactory stimuli were observed, as well as enhanced representation of the receptor that perceives the odor compared to control mice and their progeny (7). These changes were conveyed by epigenetic mechanisms, as illustrated by evidence that the acetophenone-sensing genes in fearful mice were hypomethylated, which may have enhanced expression of odorant-receptor genes during development leading to acetophenone sensitivity (7).

The Human Experience of Famine and Tragedy Spans Generations

The mouse study, which illustrates how germ cells (egg and sperm) exhibit dynamic plasticity and adaptability in response to environmental signals, is mirrored by human studies. For instance, exposures to certain stressors such as starvation during the gestational period are associated with poor health outcomes for offspring. Women who undergo famine before conception of her offspring have been demonstrated to give birth to children with lower self-reported mental health and quality of life, for example (8).

Studies similarly highlight that, “Maternal famine exposure around the time of conception has been related to prevalence of major affective disorders, antisocial personality disorders, schizophrenia, decreased intracranial volume, and congenital abnormalities of the central nervous system” (8). Gestational exposure to the Dutch Famine of the mid-twentieth century is also associated with lower perceived health (9), as well as enhanced incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity in offspring (8). Maternal undernourishment during pregnancy leads to neonatal adiposity, which is a predictor of future obesity (10), in the grandchildren (11).

The impact of epigenetics is also exemplified by research on the intergenerational effects of trauma, which illuminates that descendants of people who survived the Holocaust exhibit abnormal stresshormone profiles, and low cortisol production in particular (12). Because of their impaired cortisol response and altered stress reactivity, children of Holocaust survivors are often at enhanced risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression (13).

Intrauterine exposure to maternal stress in the form of intimate partner violence during pregnancy can also lead to changes in the methylation status of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) of their adolescent offspring (14). These studies suggest that an individual’s experience of trauma can predispose their descendants to mental illness, behavioral problems, and psychological abnormalities due to “transgenerational epigenetic programming of genes operating in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis,” a complex set of interactions among endocrine glands which determine stress response and resilience (14).

Body Cells Pass Genetic Information Directly Into Sperm Cells

Not only that, but studies are illuminating that genetic information can be transferred through the germ line cells of a species in real time. These paradigm-shifting findings overturn conventional logic which postulates that genetic change occurs over the protracted time scale of hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. In a relatively recent study, exosomes were found to be the medium through which information was transferred from somatic cells to gametes.

This experiment entailed xenotransplantation, a process where living cells from one species are grafted into a recipient of another species. Specifically, human melanoma tumor cells genetically engineered to express genes for a fluorescent tracer enzyme called EGFP-encoding plasmid were transplanted into mice. The experimenters found that information-containing molecules containing the EGFP tracer were released into the animals’ blood (15). Exosomes, or “specialized membranous nano-sized vesicles derived from endocytic compartments that are released by many cell types” were found among the EGFP trackable molecules (16, p. 447).

Exosomes, which are synthesized by all plant and animal cells, contain distinct protein repertoires and are created when inward budding occurs from the membrane of multivesicular bodies (MVBs), a type of organelle that serves as a membrane-bound sorting compartment within eukaryotic cells (16). Exosomes contain microRNA (miRNA) and small RNA, types of non-coding RNA involved in regulating gene expression (16). In this study, exosomes delivered RNAs to mature sperm cells (spermatozoa) and remained stored there (15).

The researchers highlight that this kind of RNA can behave as a “transgenerational determinant of inheritable epigenetic variations and that spermatozoal RNA can carry and deliver information that cause phenotypic variations in the progeny” (15). In other words, the RNA carried to sperm cells by exosomes can preside over gene expression in a way that changes the observable traits and disease risk of the offspring as well as its morphology, development, and physiology.

This study was the first to elucidate RNA-mediated transfer of information from somatic to germ cells, which fundamentally overturns what is known as the Weisman barrier, a principle which states that the movement of hereditary information from genes to body cells is unidirectional, and that the information transmitted by egg and sperm to future generations remains independent of somatic cells and parental experience (15).

Further, this may bear implications for cancer risk, as exosomes contain vast amounts of genetic information which can be source of lateral gene transfer (17) and are abundantly liberated from tumor cells (18). This can be reconciled with the fact that exosome-resembling vesicles have been observed in various mammals (15), including humans, in close proximity to sperm in anatomical structures such as the epididymis as well as in seminal fluid (19). These exosomes may thereafter be propagated to future generations with fertilization and augment cancer risk in the offspring (20).

The researchers concluded that sperm cells can act as the final repositories of somatic cell-derived information, which suggests that epigenetic insults to our body cells can be relayed to future generations. This notion is confirmatory of the evolutionary theory of “soft inheritance” proposed by French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whereby characteristics acquired over the life of an organism are transmitted to offspring, a concept which modern genetics previously rejected before the epigenetics arrived on the scene. In this way, the sperm are able to spontaneously assimilate exogenous DNA and RNA molecules, behaving both as vector of their native genome and of extrachromosomal foreign genetic material which is “then delivered to oocytes at fertilization with the ensuing generation of phenotypically modified animals” (15).

Epigenetic Changes Endure Longer Than Ever Predicted

In a recent study, nematode worms were manipulated to harbor a transgene for a fluorescent protein, which made the worms glow under ultraviolet light when the gene was activated (21). When the worms were incubated under the ambient temperature of 20° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit), negligible glowing was observed, indicating low activity of the transgene (21). However, transferring the worms to a warmer climate of 25°C (77° F) stimulated expression of the gene, as the worms glowed brightly (21).

In addition, this temperature-induced alteration in gene expression was found to persist for at least 14 generations, representing the preservation of epigenetic memories of environmental change across an unprecedented number of generations (21). In other words, the worms transmitted memories of past environmental conditions to their descendants, through the vehicle of epigenetic change, as a way to prepare their offspring for prevailing environmental conditions and ensure their survivability.

Future Directions: Where Do We Go From Here?

Taken cumulatively, the aforementioned research challenges traditional Mendelian laws of genetics, which postulate that genetic inheritance occurs exclusively through sexual reproduction and that traits are passed to offspring through the chromosomes contained in germ line cells, and never through somatic (bodily) cells. Effectively, this proves the existence of non-Mendelian transgenerational inheritance, where traits separate from chromosomal genes are transmitted to progeny, resulting in persistent phenotypes that endure across generations (22).

This research imparts new meaning to the principle of seven generation stewardship taught by Native Americans, which mandates that we consider the welfare of seven generations to come in each of our decisions. Not only should we embody this approach in practices of environmental sustainability, but we would be wise to consider how the conditions to which we subject our bodies—the pollution and toxicants which permeate the landscape and pervade our bodies, the nutrient-devoid soil that engenders micronutrient-poor food, the disruptions to our circadian rhythm due to the ubiquity of electronic devices, our divorce from nature and the demise of our tribal affiliations—may translate into ill health effects and diminished quality of life for a previously unfathomed number of subsequent generations.

Hazards of modern agriculture, the industrial revolution, and contemporary living are the “known or suspected drivers behind epigenetic processes…including heavy metals, pesticides, diesel exhaust, tobacco smoke, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hormones, radioactivity, viruses, bacteria, and basic nutrients” (1, p. A160). Serendipitously, however, many inputs such as exercise, mindfulness, and bioactive components in fruits and vegetables such as sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables, resveratrol from red grapes, genistein from soy, diallyl sulphide from garlic, curcumin from turmeric, betaine from beets, and green tea catechin can favorably modify epigenetic phenomena “either by directly inhibiting enzymes that catalyze DNA methylation or histone modifications, or by altering the availability of substrates necessary for those enzymatic reactions” (23, p. 8).

This quintessentially underscores that the air we breathe, the food we eat, the thoughts we allow, the toxins to which we are exposed, and the experiences we undergo may persevere in our descendants and remain in our progeny long after we are gone. We must be cognizant of the effects of our actions, as they elicit a ripple effect through the proverbial sands of time.

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References

1. Weinhold, B. (2006). Epigenetics: The Science of Change. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(3), A160-A167.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Exposome and Exposomics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/exposome/

3. Rappaport, S.M. (2016). Genetic factors are not the major causes of chronic diseases. PLoS One, 11(4), e0154387.

4. Vrijheid, M. (2014). The exposome: a new paradigm to study the impact of environment on health. Thorax, 69(9), 876-878. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-204949.

5. Wild, C.P. (2012). The exposome: from concept to utility. International Journal of Epidemiology, 41, 24–32. doi:10.1093/ije/dyr236

6. Anway, M.D. et al. (2005). Epigenetic transgenerational actions of endocrine disruptors and male fertility. Science, 308(5727), 1466-1469.

7. Dias, B.G., & Ressler, K.J. (2014). Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations. Nature Neuroscience, 17(1), 89-98.

8. Stein, A.D. et al. (2009). Maternal exposure to the Dutch Famine before conception and during pregnancy: quality of life and depressive symptoms in adult offspring. Epidemiology, 20(6), doi:  10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181b5f227.

9. Roseboom, T.J. et al. (2003). Perceived health of adults after prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine. Paediatrics Perinatal Epidemiology, 17, 391–397.

10. Badon, S.E. et al. (2014). Gestational Weight Gain and Neonatal Adiposity in the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome Study-North American Region. Obesity (Silver Spring), 22(7), 1731–1738.

11. Veenendaal, M.V. et al. (2013). Transgenerational effects of prenatal exposure to the 1944-45 Dutch famine. BJOG, 120(5), 548-53. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.

12. Yehuda, R., & Bierer, L.M. (2008). Transgenerational transmission of cortisol and PTSD risk. Progress in Brain Research, 167, 121-135.

13. Aviad-Wilcheck, Y. et al. (2013). The effects of the survival characteristics of parent Holocaust survivors on offsprings’ anxiety and depression symptoms. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 50(3), 210-216.

14. Radke, K.M. et al. (2011). Transgenerational impact of intimate partner violence on methylation in the promoter of the glucocorticoid receptor. Translational Psychiatry, 1, e21. doi: 10.1038/tp.2011.21.

15. Cossetti, C. et al. (2014). Soma-to-Germline Transmission of RNA in Mice Xenografted with Human Tumour Cells: Possible Transport by Exosomes. PLoS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0101629.

16. Zomer, A. et al. (2010). Exosomes: Fit to deliver small RNA. Communicative and Integrative Biology, 3(5), 447–450.

17. Balaj, L. et al. (2011) Tumour microvesicles contain retrotransposon elements and amplified oncogene sequences. Natural Communications, 2, 180.

18. Azmi, A.S., Bao, B., & Sarkar, F.H. (2013). Exosomes in cancer development, metastasis, and drug resistance: a comprehensive review. Cancer Metastasis Review, 32, 623-643

19. Poliakov, A. et al. (2009). Structural heterogeneity and protein composition of exosomes-like vesicles (prostasomes) in human semen. Prostate, 69, 159-167.

20. Cheng, R.Y. et al. (2004) Epigenetic and gene expression changes related to transgenerational carcinogenesis. Molecular Carcinogenesis, 40, 1–11.

21. Klosin, A. et al. (2017). Transgenerational transmission of environmental information in C. elegans. Science, 356(6335).

22. Lim, J.P., & Brunet, A. (2013). Bridging the transgenerational gap with epigenetic memory. Trends in Genetics, 29(3), 176-186. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2012.12.008

23. Choi, S.-W., & Friso, S. (2010). Epigenetics: A New Bridge between Nutrition and Health Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 1(1), 8-16. doi:10.3945/an.110.1004.

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Catholic Church Ignores Pedophilia, But Bishop Warns Reiki & Energy Healing Are Satanic

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Catholic Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has said he is establishing a "delivery ministry" that will attempt to rid people of the devil and warned that using reiki or other new-age healing methods could open one up to demonic influence.

  • Reflect On:

    Can these types of fear-based attempts to retain power over people serve the greater awakening to our innate power and sovereignty?

It is wisely said that, ‘you should clean up your own backyard first before you come running over to fix mine.’ Obviously, this wisdom continues to be lost on the clergy of the Catholic Church.

According to this Irish News article, Catholic Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has said he is establishing a “delivery ministry” of people who will attempt to rid others of the devil and warned that using reiki or other new-age healing methods could open one up to the possibility of encountering malevolent spirits. He said he had received “several requests” from people to help deal with evil forces.

On the strength of what spellbinding evidence and research does the bishop rest his indictment against reiki healing treatments on? He said he was told by the brother of a reiki master that the man was “working on somebody one day when he actually says he saw a vision of Satan” and was “scared out of his wits, dropped the reiki and went back to the Church”.

Gosh. Did Bishop Cullinan even go so far as to interview the reiki master himself, to verify the authenticity of the report, and perhaps inform himself just a touch more about the philosophy and practice of reiki, before giving it such firm identification with the dark side?

Heavens, no.

 

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“This is something that has to be done in secret because you don’t let these people’s names out, and they are going to houses where people maybe have been involved in some kind of new-age thing or some kind of séance or that kind of thing, and unfortunately, they’ve opened up a door to an evil force, Satan.” Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan

Absolving Personal Responsibility

Let’s be clear on what the good bishop is saying here: he is worried about people getting influenced by Satan while engaging in ‘new-age’ healing practices.  (In fact, he misidentifies reiki as a ‘new age’ practice when in fact it was developed in the early 1900’s in Japan by Mikao Usui, who realized that healing energy can be transmitted between human beings via the hands and directed intention and visualization.) Does he say what the consequences might be if people fall deeply enough under Satan’s spell under these conditions? Will they suddenly be tempted to steal an apple from the grocery store? Say a crossword to a neighbor? He doesn’t know. And doesn’t say. And probably hasn’t even thought that far.

No, what it really looks like is that the good bishop would like to stop people who are taking personal responsibility for their own healing, and play the devil card to encourage such people to run back to the Catholic Church where members don’t actually have to take responsibility for their own actions–they can simply believe the devil made them do it. This is a scenario in which the good bishop can feel useful in an advisory capacity because he has the God-given power to absolve participants of their sins with the recitation of a few ‘Hail Mary’s.

Why Not Address In-House Pedophilia?

You would think, if indeed you believe Cullinan is being sincere, that he would not be sticking his nose into something he knows little about, and instead bring his Satan-fighting attention to the actions of his Catholic brethren who are already known to be raping and torturing children. You would think it would be of the highest order to turn his exorcising powers to work on these contemporaries of his, if for nothing else than to try to resurrect the reputation of the Catholic Church which has fallen to unprecedented depths.

But you get the feeling that his attitude falls in line with the Church on the matter of pedophilia in the church. Their inaction seems to indicate that they feel not much can be done about it. It is not a question of personal responsibility, it is a question of demonic possession. In the article, Cullinan said he “absolutely” agreed with Pope Francis’s view that child abuse is caused by Satan. Which means offenders themselves are not to ‘blame’ for their actions. The church’s propensity to take offenders of these violent crimes and simply move them away from one outraged community to continue their criminal activity in another one is a clear sign of this.

The Takeaway

This bishop certainly has gall to act concerned about potential demonic influence coming from modern energy healing practices he knows nothing about. The good news is, the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church continues to reveal itself in these feeble attempts to retain power over people, and they could serve as a catalyst for more people who still give themselves over to these institutions to take their power back.

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