If I had written something like this a mere 10 years ago, you might have laughed all the way to your delete button. Even the mind-body concept has only been around several decades. But now we are beginning to wake up. Not only do we have strange stories by someone like Norman Cousins who wrote Anatomy of an Illness in the 70's (Cousins had been told to take care of his affairs and go home as he was about to die. Instead of complying, he asked for movie reels from friends in the industry, movies to make him laugh, and laugh he did, because contrary to medical expectations, he survived for many years), but we now have many others such as Bernie Siegel, MD, who speaks of miracles caused by such simple changes like bringing purpose and meaning to your life, love, laughter, and friendship, having a pet, learning to enjoy nature, and learning how to love the self, Larry Dossey, MD, who has written about the miraculous healing power of prayer, Herb Benson, MD, who wrote about the healing power of the relaxation response, and the numerous books and articles that have been written - such as this May 2013 example from Harvard Magazine - about the healing outcome of the placebo effect. And biologist Rupert Sheldrake (most known for his construct morphic fields), has written about the inter-connectedness of all, which is, of course, one of the broad themes we hear coming out of quantum physics, emulating, we might say, ancient Buddhist teachings.
The idea of giving your genes a new message is very important to understand. Your health and well-being may well depend on it. Let's say you have a gene that predisposes you to a specific disease or cancer (such as Angelina Jolie who recently shared her story in this NY Times Op-Ed). Genetic determinism teaches (and the greater part of the scientific and medical community continues to adhere to this belief, as did pre-Renaissance Europe believe that the earth was flat), that we are controlled by our genes. In some ways, such a conviction causes us to believe that we are the victims of our genes because genetic determinism signifies that it is absolutely impossible to escape from what our genes determine for us at birth. This means that we have no chance of being in control of these genes that literally have power over our lives. Furthermore, we have all been taught to believe that when a gene 'runs' in the family, we carry an elevated chance of contracting whatever condition or disease to which the gene in question is related. And if we have no control over these genes that came with us at birth, then it stands to reason - or so we believe - that we need someone out there to help us or rescue us. The medical community has benefited enormously from this erroneous belief, and while some researchers are demonstrating over and over again that it is indeed, an erroneous belief, this information is not trickling down to the man and woman on the street with any kind of palpable urgency. And so nothing changes, because we continue to believe that genes control our health.
Epigenetics is the new discipline that so many of the scientists mentioned in this article talk about, a discipline that examines what there is 'above' the genes ('epi' means above, so the word epigenetics comes to signify 'controlled by something above the genes') - in other words, what controls the genes.
And what has been discovered in the field of epigenetics is mind-blowing. Simply put, it is the environment in which the genes are found that determines the expression of those genes, and not the genes themselves. And this is determined to a great degree by you and the many choices you make.
Food, water, exercise, fresh air, etc., are easily-understood concepts when it comes to thinking about your own environment, but let's broaden them. Here are some other fundamentals to look at in your own gene environment (and remember, it is the brain - all your brains** - that interpret the environment in order to regulate the body's chemistry that controls the cells' genetic expression). I offer such an extensive list in order that you realize how important the expression of each item on this list - the way you use them to influence your particular environment - may be to your health and to your genetic expression (in no particular order):
· the gratitude you feel
· the people you spend time with in general
· the personal relationships in your life
· your connection to your inner self
· the ease with which you remain present (in the NOW)
· the people with whom you surround yourself when you are sick, and the conversations - and facial expressions - you allow in your presence
· your beliefs (of all kinds, not just religious beliefs. For example, your belief that you are capable, worthy, and valuable … or not.)
· the animals in your life
· how well do you have your ego in hand? Are you even aware of it?
· the love you share with others
· your capacity to ask for help
· your capacity to not need to be right
· your love for yourself
· the amount of laughter, joy, and happiness in your life (remember: this depends on you, not on the events)
· are your boundaries healthy?
· your healthy expression of all emotions
· your perceived significance or meaning and purpose in your life
· the amount of responsibility you take for yourself on all levels
· your habit of self-reflection
· your continual quest to not live your life as a 'role'
· the choices you make when it comes to reacting to outer events
· your hobbies
· the harmony in your home (not only people and conversations, but also, for example, the décor)
· the amount of stress in your life
· how aware are you of your own thoughts and how they impact on your life?
· what have you done to change those thoughts or how you deal with them?
· have you learned how to relax?
· how needy are you?
· your pro-activity about your own health - do you allow others (doctors, well-meaning others, etc.) to make decisions for you, or do you take an active participatory part in deciding what will happen when you need treatment of some kind by keeping yourself informed, or by doing some research about whatever it is you may have?
· have you learned how to forgive and let go of the past?
· how well do you nurture your inner and outer self?
· how judgmental and critical of others (and of circumstances) are you?
· the type of conversations you tend to have
· the type of mechanisms you use to deal with (and clean up) your fears
· the type of books, magazines, and newspapers you tend to read
· the type of things you tend to watch on television or at the cinema
· your self-dialogue (what do you typically tell yourself?)
· your connection to nature
(Note: You will find articles about most of these subjects on my website and blogs, as well as much more detailed information in all of my books).
Let's go back to my earlier assertion that 'it is the environment in which the genes are found that determines the expression of those genes, and not the genes themselves'. And let's say you have just had a negative health diagnosis. Now is the time to go through the list above and ask yourself some serious questions about each of the points. And then immediately after that, begin to make changes in all the areas that you see as lacking or under-developed. You change your environment and you change the expression of your genes even when you have already had a diagnosis. I've written about this elsewhere, but I am living proof of this (as are countless other individuals) after my own cancer diagnosis some seven years ago. I changed a great deal about my inner and outer environment and the cellular expression of my body changed.
And if you have not had a negative health diagnosis, but want to live your best possible life, do the same: look at the list, ask yourself some serious questions, and begin to make changes - no matter what your age or condition. Your genes do not determine your fate. You and the environment you choose for yourself do. Please tell everyone you know. Show them the websites I've embedded in this article. Most of the scientists and doctors mentioned have audios and videos available for listening at no charge, either on their own websites, or on YouTube. Encourage your loved ones to read and inform themselves in order to become more autonomous about their health. And as I have stated in numerous articles on my website and blogs, a wonderful place to start is by loving yourself* because it allows so many of the other items in the above list to begin to fall into place automatically. Do this for yourself, your family, and all those you love.
*My book The Power of Your Heart: Loving the Self deals with this subject in much greater detail.
* *Also see my article Introducing Our Second and Third Brains: We Do Think With Our Heart and Instinct
This article is dedicated to all those who are no longer here, who formed a part of my life, some of whom were not privy to the information contained herein: IK, MK, WK, MAM, HK, HDK, OA, AS, SdP, IA, RvR, IM, BT, MBT, AW, MCCS, SlC.
Please note that this article does not intend to imply that if you are sick and are not healing that you are at fault. It merely expresses the opinion that we can take a much more active role in our healing than most individuals do, not, however, that doing these things guarantees a return from sickness to health. Sometimes other lessons are there to be learned, and they may not include healing.
Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books.
Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch
Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch