I became aware of the science of Epigenetics a number of years ago through the work of Bruce Lipton after reading his book “The Biology of Belief”. It was groundbreaking in so far as he combined quantum physics and cell biology to identify the mechanisms in which cells receive and process information. Although the science of Epigenetics had begun to emerge in the early ‘70’s, Dr. Lipton’s thesis presented a concise and comprehensive overview of these discoveries in a manner and language that lay people such as myself could understand and apply to their lives in a meaningful way.
Further research in this field continues to expand on our understanding of how our DNA and subsequent perceptions, beliefs, behaviors, relationship patterns, and experiences are being informed and influenced by our environment and the individuals who inhabit it. In previous articles when referring to ‘cellular imprinting’ or ‘cellular memory’; it is this understanding that I am referencing.
These concepts are a major thread in the fabric which I am weaving together as a framework through which I guide my clients on their journey to greater health and well-being. Because I am not a scientist, I cannot describe it using scientific terms such as methyl groups, histone spools, glucocorticoid receptors, and acetyl groups but somehow I am able to grasp the implications of what this research has to offer. As a result, a large part of my work is to bring conscious awareness to what that is and what the implications for our respective futures are once we have that understanding.
During the first few sessions of meeting with someone I will begin to differentiate between the mind and the body. One of the ways I do this is to start with the most important distinction and that is that minds think and bodies feel. I compare the mind to a CPU processor which holds a very limited, finite cache of memory and its larger function is to process the signals that the physical body is constantly sending to it as well as create a myriad of stories around what it is we think we are experiencing in response to those signals. The bulk of our memories are really encoded in the fifty trillion cells of our body. Everything that we’ve ever experienced is recorded in these cells. Now add to that the understanding that we are also carrying within our DNA all of the memories from our respective maternal and paternal lineages, their respective lineages and so on and so on and we now begin to have a much fuller understanding of the scope of what is influencing our experiences and why we often continue to cycle through the same patterns regardless of how undesirable or painful they may be.
Simply put, all of our thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, behaviors, and relationship patterns have been shaped through our DNA lineage, our experiences beginning at the prenatal stage and continuing throughout childhood as well as all subsequent developmental stages including what was modelled for us and projected onto us that we accepted as being ‘true’ about ourselves, our environment and those with whom we were in relationship with within those environments. The key to ‘climbing out' from underneath all of this is to begin to become aware of what it is we’ve been unconsciously at the effect of for so long that has shaped and determined our perception of self and others. Once we become aware, we can begin to participate more consciously in our experiences and learn how to change our response to whatever is happening outside of us. In doing so, we ultimately change our experience.
A great way to begin is by becoming more body-focused since this is where all the memory is held. In response to the environment and those who inhabit it; I ask my clients to begin to cultivate awareness around the moment in which they become ‘triggered’. It will always be in response to something or someone who is doing something that has resulted in our nervous system becoming dis-regulated. We can notice this when our adrenals become activated. If we don’t recognize it when this happens then we have another opportunity to do so when our defense mechanisms show up in response to our adrenals becoming activated. It is precisely at this moment that we want to hit the ‘pause’ button and separate out from the situation long enough to make a conscious choice to not defend ourselves.
Eventually what we come to realize is that whatever ‘triggered’ us was a stimulus in the environment that touched in on a memory that we were holding onto in one of the fifty trillion cells in our body and it just so happened that the stimulus resonated with the memory. Once ‘triggered’, the memory then sends out signals to the brain and body indicating that we are not safe. In response to those signals, the adrenals become activated which then sets into motion a myriad of chemical and hormonal responses within the brain and body that positions us into a ‘fight or flight’ response. It is at this time that we begin to react through some defensive posturing. Depending on the stimulus and the energetic ‘charge’ around the memory, our defensive posturing and subsequent expression could cover a wide range of responses. That is why it is so helpful to begin to practice hitting the ‘pause’ button because in all likelihood the reactivity that we bring to the current situation is usually, if not always, way out of proportion to what is actually occurring in the moment. A really good example of this would be what unfolds during ‘road rage’. From my perspective, whether I’m observing it or participating in it, the response is never about what is actually happening but rather a reaction to an unconscious memory of another time when my physical and emotional safety was threatened and possibly hung in the balance.
Beginning to work consciously with the understanding of epigenetics and cellular memory helps move us out of the unending cycles of violence and victimology. We can begin to take a closer look at our defense mechanisms and behavioral patterns and tease apart exactly what it is that we are holding onto that is no longer relevant or appropriate to hold onto given the identification that we are choosing to have a different experience. The genome has long been known as the blueprint of life, but the epigenome can be thought of as an ‘Etch A Sketch’ in which it turns out it is possible to wipe away the memories. In the future article entitled "Energy Medicine" we will explore how this is possible.
Epigenetics is the science that identifies that our genes are constantly being modified in response to our life experiences and emphasizes that our perceptions of what it is we’re experiencing is what ultimately shapes our biology and informs what we experience. What I find most exciting about this premise is that it allows all of us to begin to climb out of our victimology regardless of how horrific or traumatic our past may have been in order to co-create a much more empowering future; one full of infinite possibilities imbued with love, happiness, and peace. In doing so not only do we honor our ancestors but also future generations to come who will no longer have to inherit the stress and trauma of prior generations.