Many people disregard the role of “belief” in shaping our lives as being some sort of “New Age” malarkey, meaningless nonsense. They emphasize the science of epigenetics that clearly states that environment controls genetics, which in turn, determines the character of our lives.
Consider this story: Mutt and Jeff are two twenty-something year-old friends, who grew up together in side-by-side houses. Walking down a sidewalk, all of a sudden, a harmless garter snake slithers out of the grass and crosses the sidewalk in front of the two friends. Jeff sees the snake and is consciously excited by the beautiful animal that crossed his path. Next to him, Mutt on observing the same snake, goes into a state of fear and releases a burst of stress hormones. Fortunately, Mutt’s heart is in good shape, if it had been compromised, the sight of the snake could have even caused him to have a heart attack.
Both Mutt and Jeff are in the exact same environment and see the same stimulus, the snake. However, their responses are radically different. Conventional insights describe epigenetics as the science of how “environment” controls behavior and genetic activity. Based on how the tissue culture environment controlled the behavior of my cultured stem cells in experiments are carried out over 50 years ago, I recognize this to be true. The big question is, “Why did these friends display such significantly different behaviors in the exact same environment?”
The answer is profoundly important, for it emphasizes the power of belief in determining the character of our lives. Firstly, the fate and behavior of a cell living in the “outer” environment, such as an amoeba, is indeed shaped by the nature of that external environment. However, the cells inside your body are not in direct contact with the external environment. Under your skin, the cells in the body are living in a completely different world, one controlled by the body’s enclosed growth medium, the blood. Simply, the behavior and genetics of the body’s cellular community are controlled by the chemistry of the interior environment, which in turn, is determined by the composition of the blood.
The brain, the “chemist” that controls the composition of the blood, depends on the nervous system to read the body’s external environment. The brain then releases into the blood the hormones, neuropeptides, and emotional chemistry that should coordinate the body’s behavior and genetics to survive in the ever-changing external world. The relevant point is that the nervous system “interprets” the environmental conditions in its efforts to control blood composition and accommodate the behavior needed to sustain life.
When Jeff first encountered a snake in his backyard as an infant, his mother, a biologist, picked up the snake, handled it and showed Jeff how wonderful it was. In contrast, when the same snake slithered from Jeff’s yard into Mutt’s neighboring yard, it resulted in a completely different response. Fearful of snakes, Mutt’s mother upon seeing the garter snake screamed and grabbed Mutt as she ran inside for safety. From his mother’s reaction, Mutt acquired the perception that snakes were life threatening.
Now, let’s come back to the current day. When the snake was crossing the sidewalk, Jeff was delighted to see it and his brain released loving and calming chemistry into his blood that shaped his internal environment. In contrast, Mutt’s brain infused his body with fear-provoking stress hormones that shifted him from a state of growth into a state of fear which shut down his growth mechanisms and engaged his protection behavior.
So, the behavior and genetics of the cells in each of these two bodies expressed a completely different response to the same external environmental signals. In both friends, epigenetic mechanisms controlling their biology were responding to the body’s interior environment. The difference between the two reactions were based on the acquired beliefs each had as a child.
The emphasis on environment controlling genetics as described in epigenetic science is absolutely true. The important conclusion is that the epigenetic “environment” inside the body is distinct and separate from the environment outside the body. Since “belief” controls the chemistry of the internal environment, then it is a truly scientific fact that “belief” controls our epigenetic expression. Change your beliefs and then you are empowered to change your biology.
The Biology of Belief is grounded in real science!
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