Epigenetics is a foundational Frontier Science for Positive Human Evolution.
The Biology of Belief is a groundbreaking work in the field of new biology. Theories of evolution and genetics have long taught that genetic mutation is entirely beyond our control. However, genetics has been gradually discovering that we may establish that some self-directed biological transformations occur.
Author Dr. Bruce H. Lipton is a former medical school professor and research scientist. His experiments, and those of other leading-edge scientists, have examined in great detail the mechanisms by which cells receive and process information. The implications of this research radically change our understanding of life. It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology; that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic feeling messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts. Dr. Liptons’s profoundly hopeful synthesis of the latest and best research in cell biology and quantum physics is being hailed as a major breakthrough, showing that our bodies can be changed as we retrain our thinking.
Program Description Through the research of Dr Lipton and other leading-edge scientists, stunning new discoveries have been made about the interaction between your mind and body and the processes by which cells receive information. It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology, that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our thoughts. Using simple language, illustrations, humor, and everyday examples, he demonstrates how the new science of Epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of the link between mind and matter and the profound effects it has on our personal lives and the collective life of our species. This paperback edition of The Biology of Belief fully updates and revises the material from the bestselling original edition, and adds material in the light of the seismic effect the book has had.
To date, one of biology’s greatest achievements, mapping the human genome, is only just beginning to translate into medical advances. But in 2014 there will likely be more headlines about another type of study in genetics that is already impacting everyone.
We are referring to a different aspect of our genome, which radically revises a model that is decades old, dating back as far as the original discovery of DNA. In the original model, the effects of our genes were considered to be fixed and unchanging, controlling every aspect of our physical makeup, behavior, and susceptibility to disease. Not just eye color, height, and other physical characteristics were predetermined by inherited genes, but perhaps all kinds of behaviors, from criminality to belief in God.
The new model, however, portrays a more fluid, dynamic genome that responds quickly, even instantly, to all that we experience, including how you think, feel, speak, and act. Every day brings new evidence that the mind-body connection reaches right down to the activities of our genes. How this activity changes in response to our life experiences is referred to as “epigenetics.” Regardless of the nature of the genes we inherit from our parents, dynamic change at this level allows us almost unlimited influence on our fate.
Theories of evolution and genetics have long taught that genetic mutation is entirely random. However, genetics has been gradually stepping into a new era of “self-directed biological transformation,” a mouthful perhaps, but with great significance in each word:
Self-Directed: Voluntary activity in your thoughts, feelings, habits, and desires. This is the realm of personal choice
Biological: Effects at every level of the mind-body system, including reactions by your genetic material
Transformation: Major shifts in cellular activity leading to physiological changes
This means that control is being given back to each person; we are no longer seen as puppets of our DNA. The human genome is set to be the stage for future evolution that we ourselves direct, making choice an integral part of genetics. This is in stark contrast to the “biology as destiny” view where genes override choice. Unless decisions, lifestyle, environment, and personal preferences are included, a full picture of the mysteries of our DNA cannot be attained.
The speed and extent of change at the genetic level would astonish researchers even a few years ago. Yoga and meditation, for example, can trigger almost immediate responses in genetic activity. Exercise, a balanced diet, good sleep, and stress reduction—all well-known for improving bodily function—exert beneficial effects via our genes. So the next frontier will be to discover how deep and lasting such changes are, how much control we have over them individually, and how they can be passed on to future generations through so-called “soft inheritance,” in which the parents’ life experiences and behavior directly influence the genome of their offspring (transmitted via the epigenome, which controls how the activities of our genes are turned up and down).
How Genes Deliver Results
Genes don’t simply switch on and off but work on a sliding scale, more like a rheostat. In addition, genes communicate fluidly, so that the old view, where a single gene determined a single characteristic, like eye color, must be revised. There are some genetically determined characteristics that require only a single gene, but they are relatively rare. The vast number of genetic influences are created by a dance or symphony of genes delivering dynamic input to the whole system.
Between any two persons’ genomes there are an average of three million differences or mutations. The implications for medicine are major. Only 5% or less of disease-related mutations are fully penetrant, i.e., guaranteeing a disease when inherited. For the remaining 95%, other genes, lifestyle, and environmental influences also determine disease risk.
The Emergence of Self-Directed Biology
The mind and emotions directly affect gene activity, and since the mind is the source of a person’s lifestyle and behavior, it directs one’s biological transformations. Self-awareness holds the key to this process of self-transformation. Consciousness is invisibly reaching into the biochemistry of every moment of life. In your body, as in every cell, regulation is holistic, self-generated, self-organizing, and self-directed in concert with consciousness.
Darwin didn’t know about epigenetics and “soft inheritance.” Otherwise, he may have written a very different treatise, in which evolution wouldn’t solely result from random gene mutations. Self-directed evolution is the emerging paradigm.
As emphasized in our recent book, Super Brain, we believe there is also a better approach to understanding the brain. Your neural networks are being reshaped with every thought, feeling word, and act. This process is intimately tied to genetic activity. Today you will casually perform some very mysterious actions: As an aware being you will imbue your desires with intention (“I’ll have the tuna salad”), direct your attention to specific objects and aspects of the world (“Just look at that sunset!”), and experience the shifting landscape of your inner world (“This movie is boring”) as you navigate the terrain of your mind.
However, no research has been able to define the scientific basis of these actions. There is no explanation for how the firing of action potentials in trillions of synapses made by billions of nerve cells actually produces an experience.
This is a perfect example of how the map isn’t the territory. The wiring of your brain is ever-changing, depending on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and habits. Many millions of dollars are being spent on the connectome, a complete mapping of the brain. But this will not explain how genes and neural circuits work together to bring us consciousness.
Brain and genome maps must be aligned with the fullness of human experience, since what you think, say, and do today shapes your genetic future. Nothing less than the equivalent of a “consciousome project” will suffice to serve this loftiest of scientific endeavors.
“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.” ~ Rumi
Deepak Chopra is the source for this post – from his book – included with links and excerpts… I did not much more than organize this – my text is this lighter color. If you have some time, try the exercise and view both videos… there is really some terrific wisdom here from Dr. Chopra.
Look at the palm of your hand. Feel it as you look. Now imagine that it is getting warmer. Keep looking and focus on it getting warmer; see the color becoming redder. If you maintain focus on this intention, your palm will in fact grow warm and red.
This technique is so effective that monks who use it can sit in freezing ice caves meditating overnight while wearing nothing more than their thin silk saffron robes. Now the simple feedback loop has become totally engrossing, because what we can induce merely by intending it may have no limit.
The same Buddhist monks reach states of compassion, for example, that depend on physical changes in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Their brains didn’t do this on their own; they were following orders from the mind. Thus we cross a frontier. When a feedback loop is maintaining normal heart rhythm, the mechanism is involuntary— it is using you. But if you change your heart rate intentionally (for example, by imagining a certain someone who excites you romantically), you are using it instead.
Let’s take this concept to the place where life can be miserable or happy. Consider stroke victims. Medical science has made huge advances in patient survival after even massive strokes, some of which can be attributed to better medications and to the upsurge of trauma units, since strokes are ideally dealt with as soon as possible. Quick treatment is saving countless lives, compared to the past. But survival isn’t the same as recovery.
No drugs show comparable success in allowing victims to recover from paralysis, the most common effect of a stroke. As with the discouraged children, with stroke patients everything seems to depend on feedback. In the past they mostly sat in a chair with medical attention, and their course of least resistance was to use the side of the body that was unaffected by their stroke. Now rehabilitation actively takes the course of most resistance. If a patient’s left hand is paralyzed, for example, the therapist will have her use only that hand to pick up a coffee cup or comb her hair. At first these tasks are physically impossible. Even barely raising a paralyzed hand causes pain and frustration. But if the patient repeats the intention to use the bad hand, over and over, new feedback loops develop. The brain adapts, and slowly there is new function.
We now see remarkable recoveries in patients who walk, talk, and use their limbs normally with intensive rehab. Even twenty years ago these functions would have languished or shown only minor improvements. And all we have done so far is to explore the implications of two words.
Program Description “You don’t know what your brain can do until you test its limits…” The Super Brain Credo bridges two worlds, biology and experience. Biology is great at explaining physical processes, but it is totally inadequate at telling us about the meaning and purpose of our subjective experience. What does it feel like to be a discouraged child or a paralyzed stroke victim? The story begins with that question, and biology follows second. We need both worlds to understand ourselves. Otherwise, we fall into the biological fallacy, which holds that humans are controlled by their brains. Leaving aside countless arguments between various theories of mind and brain, the goal is clear: We want to use our brains, not have them use us. We’ll expand on these ten principles as the book unfolds. Major breakthroughs in neuroscience are all pointing in the same direction. The human brain can do far more than anyone ever thought. Contrary to outworn beliefs, its limitations are imposed by us, not by its physical shortcomings.
Special thanks toKim Saeed for a link to this superb video.
Book Excerpt: Super Brain
by Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD
A Golden Age for the Brain What do we really know about the human brain? In the 1970s and 1980s, when the authors gained their training, the honest answer was “very little.” There was a saying circulating back then: Studying the brain was like putting a stethoscope on the outside of the Astrodome to learn the rules of football.
Your brain contains roughly 100 billion nerve cells forming anywhere from a trillion to perhaps even a quadrillion connections called synapses. These connections are in constant, dynamic state of remodeling in response to the world around you. As a marvel of nature, this one is minuscule and yet stupendous.
Everyone stood in awe of the brain, which was once dubbed “the three-pound universe.” And rightly so. Your brain not only interprets the world, it creates it. Everything you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell would have none of these qualities without the brain. Whatever you experience today—your morning coffee, the love you fee for your family, a brilliant idea at work—has been specifically customized solely for you.
Immediately we confront a crucial issue. If your world is unique and customized for you and you alone, who is behind such remarkable creativity, you or the brain itself? If the answer is you, then the door to greater creativity is flung open. If the answer is your brain, then there may be drastic physical limitations on what you are able to achieve. Maybe your genes are holding you back, or toxic memories, or low self esteem. Maybe you fall short because of limited expectations that have contracted your awareness, even though you don’t see it happening.
The facts of the case could easily tell both stories, of unlimited potential or physical limitation. Compared with the past, today science is amassing new facts with astonishing speed. We have entered a golden age of brain research. New breakthroughs emerge every month, but in the midst of such exciting advances, what about the individual, the person who depends upon the brain for everything?
Take a moment and watch what is going on in a meditating brain:
Is this a golden age for your brain?
We detect an enormous gap between brilliant research and everyday reality. Another medical school saying from the past comes to mind: Each person typically uses only 10 percent of their brain. Speaking literally, that’s not true. In a healthy adult, the brain’s neural networks operate at full capacity all the time. Even the most sophisticated brain scans available would show no detectable difference between Shakespeare writing a soliloquy from Hamlet and an aspiring poet writing his first sonnet. But the physical brain is not nearly the whole story.
To create a golden age for your brain, you need to use the gift nature has given you in a new way. It’s not the number of neurons or some magic inside your gray matter that makes life more vital, inspiring, and successful. Genes play their part, but your genes, like the rest of the brain, are also dynamic. Every day you step into the invisible firestorm of electrical and chemical activity that is the brain’s environment. You act as leader, inventor, teacher, and user of your brain, all at once.
As leader, you hand out the day’s orders to your brain.
As inventor, you create new pathways and connections inside your brain that didn’t exist yesterday.
As teacher, you train your brain to learn new skills.
As user, you are responsible for keeping your brain in good working order.
In these four roles lies the whole difference between the everyday brain—let’s dub it the baseline brain—and what we are calling super brain. The difference is immense. Even though you have not related to the brain by thinking What orders should I give today? or What new pathways do I want to create? that’s precisely what you are doing. The customized world that you live in needs a creator. The creator isn’t your brain; it’s you.
Super brain stands for a fully aware creator using the brain to maximum advantage. Your brain is endlessly adaptable, and you could be performing your fourfold role—leader, inventor, teacher, and user—with far more fulfilling results than you now achieve. ...more
You’ll read about attaining expertise of increased self-awareness and conscious intent and how you cantrain your brain to succeed beyond your present limitations.
They dismantle widespread myths about the brain, and then show you how to:
Use your brain instead of letting it use you.
Create the ideal lifestyle for a healthy brain.
Reduce the risks of aging.
Promote happiness and well-being through the mind-body connection.
Access the enlightened brain, the gateway to freedom and bliss.
Overcome the most common challenges like memory loss, depression, anxiety, and obesity.
Program Description Super Brain: A manual for relating to the brain in a revolutionary new way, Super Brain shows you how to use your brain as a gateway for achieving health, happiness, and spiritual growth. The authors are two pioneers: bestselling author and physician Deepak Chopra and Harvard Medical School professor Rudolph E. Tanzi, one of the world’s foremost experts on the causes of Alzheimer’s. They have merged their wisdom and expertise for a bold new understanding of the “three-pound universe” and its untapped potential.
In a Q&A authors Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi discuss issues raised in their new book Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness and Spiritual Well-Being. Deepak Chopra. M.D. is the author of more than sixty-five books, including numerous New York Times Bestsellers. His medical training is in internal medicine and endocrinology. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., is the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and director of Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Q. How would you define super brain?
A. It’s the brain you have now but maximized. Everyone uses the brain at every moment, but we use it unconsciously. We let it run in the background without realizing the power we have to reshape the brain. When you begin to exercise your power, the everyday brain, which we call the baseline brain, starts to move in the direction of super brain.
Q. The power to reshape the brain—can you be more specific?
A. It means being more mindful of your own thoughts and feelings and becoming more proactive in taking charge of your brain. Each of us plays four roles in relation to the brain. We lead, we inspire, we invent, and we use it. Most people do not actively use their brains. They passively let their feelings and thoughts control their lives. Or they only use their brains without giving it much inspiration or leadership. They don’t invent new ways to use their brains, either, settling instead for the same routine and repetitive thoughts every day. But if you master all four roles, you create your super brain. The bottom line isthat you when you are the active observer of your feelings and thoughts, you become the user of your brain. Your super brain then serves you, not vice-versa.
Q. How did you hit upon this power to create super brain?
A. Directly from breakthroughs in neuroscience. Modern brain-scan technology has revealed that each person shapes a completely unique brain. Other studies have documented the amazing regenerative ability of the brain, which can be reshaped by the power of your mind to bring you the world you desire. Knowing that, the obvious question arose: Why not use your mind to create the brain you want, using conscious choice?
Q. What does that mean on a practical basis?
A. We give a lot of pointers in the book, but the quickest answer is this: All experiences are either positive for your brain or negative. If you maximize the positive ones, you are shaping the brain you want to being you the world you want.
Q. Can you give a few examples of what you call”a positive lifestyle for the brain”?
A. We divide it into inner work and outerwork. Outer work includes diet, exercise, stress management, social engagement, intellectual stimulation, and good sleep—very familiar advice, but we have made it specific for the brain. Inner work is even more important and little understood until now.
Q. Can you describe inner work?
A. The brain is a dynamic system that constantly processes and creates your reality. It works best if you balance all the things that the brain is good at. The brain is good at being adaptable, flexible, creative, and intelligent. But it’s also good at playing and just being. A balanced life provides time — every day if possible — so that every function of the brain is allowed to come alive and flourish.
Q. Do you think that “work” might be more than many people want to do?
A. By work, we mean doing the best you can for yourself. If you want lifelong good health, intact memory, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, and inner fulfillment, your brain plays the central part in all of them. The old adage of “use it or lose it” applies to the brain. The “work” is actually quite simple but requires persistence. One must simply choose to be the observer of the thoughts and feelings brought to them by their brain and use them to create a positive and constructive world that best suits them.
Q. Where is super brain taking us in the future?
A. We believe that super brain is the next evolutionary leap for the human brain. The last leap was the neocortex, the higher intellectual brain, which gave humans the ability to reason, to plan ahead, to love, to feel compassion and empathy, to attribute meaning to the world. Now we can build on that. Choice is the key, because human beings are the only creatures who can choose to evolve, who can shape their destiny. Furthermore, we have been given the gift of “self-awareness,” which allows us to step back into our true selves to observe and use our brains to create the world we wish to live in. For us, super brain is the future and starts now.
Epigenetics is a foundational Frontier Science for Positive Human Evolution.