Let’s just play a moment. We’re going to play with concepts and possibilities that just might be opening up for us through new discoveries that aren’t really so new after all. After all, it’s been happening for awhile – just as some scientific studies demolish bad old superstitions and harmful ridiculous notions (like a supposed biological “basis” for race), others detect scientifically verifiable merits in practices and traditions which may extend as far back as our own origins as homo sapiens. Science has also made discoveries which have led to some of the worst decisions and technological developments ever made by our supposedly intelligent species: nuclear weapons and power, GMOs, proliferating toxic chemicals which are causing birth defects, sterility, and the death of the oceans (not to mention other parts of our ecosystem), and so on. The list is very long.
But with the all bad news, there are glimmers of light and hope. Here’s what’s come across my radar recently, and when I mix a few of these with some “what ifs” and apply them to certain accelerating struggles and challenges… well, bear with me.
First up, hot off the presses: “Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation”, a press release from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The first three paragraphs are quotes from the release, in italics below:
A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation.
The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The above study was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology. I am still trying to access the original journal article. Here’s another take on this study from RedOrbit. This article about the study also brings in the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief.
Other researchers have done work in this area. Here’s an article which references an earlier Harvard study on meditation and changes in DNA. And this 2009 article mentions the work of Dr. Susan Smalley, founder of the Mindful Awareness Research Center in Los Angeles.
One reason I am so interested in this research is that mindfulness, meditation, and hypnosis are all closely related. Bruce Lipton (mentioned above) is an example of a scientist who has brought hypnosis into the epigenetic conversation. I just finished reading The Biology of Belief and I found much good food for thought. In and of itself, this kind of thinking and these kinds of research are tremendously exciting.
I am not sure I can successfully simplify, however, the idea is that genes are not static, “written in stone” directions – that gene expression can be altered, and genes themselves can also alter, based on environmental conditions. The mindfulness studies show us that part of our “environment” is internal, including conscious and subconscious thoughts. Much research has also been published – for decades – which attest to healing benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and hypnosis.
But wait… there’s more. And so I’m shifting gears now.
Now lets go to The Animal Communicator, a documentary about Anna Breytenbach. Here’s how the documentary website describes Anna’s work. “Anna Breytenbach has dedicated her life to what she calls interspecies communication. She sends detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts. She then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals.”
Here’s a clip from the documentary:
Here’s an interview with Anna:
So in this woman’s work, which is part of a long, long tradition of tracking and communication – still alive in many indigenous traditions – we find evidence of another kind of mind-power, a sort of intuitive telepathy with the ability to create a two way exchange of information with non-human animals. This is verified in at least three stunning examples during the documentary. Anna’s work is also akin to modern “horse whisperers” and the like.
Now, plants. Sometimes I’ve listened to Karyn Sanders’s show, The Herbal Highway, on KPFA. Karyn, and other herbalists, speak of their ability to create relationships (and some sense of communication) with herbs and other plants. I’ve always seen this as somewhat akin to shamanism, a modernized variant. This sense of relationship and communication with plants, as “allies,” informs the work of such herbalists.
So above we’ve got specialized ways of thinking that create somewhat miraculous results: changing our own genes, communicating with non-human species, and so on. These capacities – latent as they may be within most of us – may also point us in the direction of restoring modern human connection to the natural world, which we have badly, dangerously disrupted for our own greedy ends. GMOs are an example.
Here’s Dr. Vandana Shiva, a true hero, who has recently created solidarity with anti-GMO activists in Hawai’i.
And here’s some footage of the recent march against GMOs in Hawai’i, chanting “I Ku Mau Mau” – a resistance chant for all pulling together – as they cross the bridge.
Okay, the situation is dire. GMOs just may be “genocidally modified organisms” for all the health and sterility hazards they present. I can’t get into all of that here. However…
Thought processes changing genes… Thought processes changing animal behavior… Thought processes creating alliances with plants… Here’s the billion dollar question:
If our own thoughts can change our own genes, can our thoughts also change the genes of other species? Plants and animals? Is it within the realm of possibility that we can develop, learn, and apply ways to heal plant life (and animal life) damaged by GMO manipulation? As we resist, can we actively help other life forms resist and heal, using our minds and our (sometimes latent or damaged) capacities for relationship with nature?
Could our thoughts – our energetic field – be that effective, that helpful, “for the good of all sentient beings?” Just how deeply intended is the phrase: malama the ‘aina?
Think about it. I mean, really think about it. The universe is a hologram, after all. What we do to change our own energy within this hologram might actually matter. This could be some awfully cool cahooting, yes?
This was my epiphany this morning.