To begin with my PhD is not in genetics, but in a little known field of environmental biophysics; thus, I know about various aspects of the relationship between living organisms and their environments, which includes a rudimentary knowledge of genetics. I have had a growing interest in epigenetics for about a decade.
Epigenetics is mostly the study of heritable changes that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence. To a lesser extent, epigenetics also describes the study of stable, long-term alterations in gene expression that are not necessarily heritable (See Wikipedia–http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics). I have used this Wikipedia link for much of what is presented below.
I want to emphasize that epigenetics is a sub-field of genetics that is in a great state of flux with much controversy. The definition of the very word “epigenetics” is evolving with new discoveries. In this blog I plan to take the reader a step beyond what I have actually read in the genetic literature by making a case for the role of human thought and feelings in epigenetic changes. In essence I want to present you with the possibility that each of us has the ability to heal ourselves.
Some Genetics Simplified
The human genome, which is the underlying DNA sequence, is largely the same for all human beings. It is basically this sequence that separates us physically from other species. The information in this DNA sequence is copied and passed to each one of the trillions of cells in our body through the cell nuclei, and contains the information for the differentiation of every cell type, beginning from a single fertilized egg.
A typical individual DNA molecule, such as contained in a chromosome, is a few centimeters long (about an inch) if it were strung out like a long piece of thread. However, a cell nucleus is 10,000 times smaller so the DNA strand is wrapped around a spool-like center called a histone protein. The DNA strand wrapped around the histone protein is called a nucleosome, which is a compacted form of DNA that undergoes transcription in each and every cell. Transcription is the word used to describe the first step of gene expression in which a particular segment of DNA is copied. Ultimately this segment of DNA, which contains at least one gene, controls some function or the development of some structure within certain cells.
Individual stretches of this DNA are called genes, and the selection of these genes by the transcription process is exceedingly complex. Many processes are involved. One process, called methylation, is critical. It is implicated in numerous critical body processes. Examples of this include: signaling to a cell what type of cell it should become (cellular differentiation), influencing obesity and metabolic energy production in the body, and triggering the occurrence of various kinds of cancers (breast, colorectal, ovarian, head and neck). Processes that reverse the gene suppression effect of methylation, such as acetylation, also are involved in the activation or deactivation of genes. In the case of some cancers, methylation inhibits the transcription of DNA repair genes resulting in the cancer. Obviously these processes are incredibly complex, and much remains unknown to geneticists.
In studies of identical twins, it was reported in 2005 that their degree of methylation/acetylation at young ages was the same; however, for twins separated early in life, and who had different medical histories, their degree of methylation/acetylation was most different.
Scientific studies clearly demonstrate that experiences during our lifetimes change the expression of our genes so that the DNA blueprint that gets used to continuously renew our bodies is changing according to our experiences.
Implications for Healing
What do we mean by “experience“? A definition of experience from Merriam-Webster is as follows: “the process of doing and seeing things and of having things happen to you, or skill or knowledge that you get by doing something” (See http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience)
I contend that thoughts, feelings and beliefs are an essential part of experiencing something. Beliefs are particularly important when we can see, touch and hear something. If we believe strongly enough that what we are sensing is not real or at least will not affect us, it will have a lesser effect on us than if we believe that it is real and will affect us – regardless of whether it actually will affect us or not. In essence, what we think about something is a more important part of our experience that what actually may have happened to us. Past memory, which is intimately connected to thought and feeling, can also profoundly affect how we interpret our experience of a new event.
If I am walking alone on a dark night in a dangerous part of town, and I see a dark object in my peripheral vision that reminds me of something that was a serious threat sometime in my past, my body may go instantly into a fight-or-flight mode with increased heart rate, adrenaline secretion, tensed muscles etc. However, if I look at it more carefully, and realize that it is just a shadow of a harmless object, suddenly all these symptoms start disappearing. Since the experience was all in my mind, the external physical circumstances just triggered my mind.
Considering the scientific experimental support for the role of experience in triggering epigenetic processes that alter the expressions of our DNA through modifications in the gene transcription, I am convinced that intentional thoughts and emotions can also trigger epigenetic processes to restore balance to our bodies. Thus modern genetic studies are slowly revealing in a most convincing way that our thoughts, feelings and beliefs have a profound effect on how our bodies are continually renewed. Furthermore, many of the conditions that influence the transcription of our DNA may be passed on to our children, predisposing them to maladies that have developed in our lives, including obesity, phobias, cancer etc.
A procedure/meditation is posted on bridgesofunity.com that describes a process for healing your DNA. It is a free pdf on the Downloads Page called Returning Your DNA to Wholeness. The members of Bridges of Unity, myself included, can attest to the power of this healing. We can change our behavioral inclinations that are limiting our lives to less than we aspire to, and now we even have some scientific evidence for this reality.
I am sure that many geneticists will take issue with the interpretation presented here. That is as it should be, because as scientists they are trained to present only interpretations that are directly supported by their data. However, experiments to test the hypothesis that a change in thought can eventually evoke a permanent change in behavior, which can create epigenetic alterations that produce healing, could be done. Furthermore, this healing can occur without the subject knowing the details of what needs to happen to accomplish that healing. The “DNA Healing” narrative presented on this Bridges of Unity Web site could serve as a candidate for geneticists to begin testing for epigenetic change. This narrative is very general and only asks for the appropriate healing to occur.
Perhaps it is useful to point out here that healing through epigenetic processes will not be instantaneous. When the gene expression is changed epigenetically, the healing may occur as the cells are rejuvenated by the new genes. That may take weeks to months, or even years, depending on the rate of turnover of the involved processes. Healing of maladies that depend on production of new proteins or cessation of the production of troublesome proteins may be relatively rapid, but alterations of connective tissue such as tendons or ligaments may take a long time.
The knowledge and belief that we can alter our own behavior permanently and alter the behavioral patterns of those who believe in us, such as biological children or admiring students, is profoundly powerful. I believe that most persons are conscientious and well-meaning, but feel powerless to change their deep-seated problems – probably because we have been told most of our lives that we are stuck with the genes we inherit. I suppose technically this is true because we can not change our genome; however, clearly we can change which genes are expressed, and that can rid us of the most debilitating addictive behaviors, and potentially even some cancers. Furthermore, we can do this ourselves and do not have to wait for some miraculous medical cure or spontaneous healing. The placebo and nocebo effects are a particularly interesting phenomena involving healing and belief (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo). Although research on such effects is controversial, little doubt exists concerning its effects on a significant minority of the population. In particular, the failure of many drugs to get approval from the FDA is attributed to the placebo effect. Unfortunately one response of the genetics community to the placebo-effect is to try to find a gene responsible for this effect and screen persons with this gene our from drug trials, instead of studying the placebo effect itself and expanding the benefits to more of the population (Servick, K. Science .19 September 2014, vol. 345, p. 1446).
If you have read this far, I suggest that you start now and not wait for scientific verification; you have nothing to lose and the Love That You Are to gain.Share