an article by psychologist Aida Boltaru
AdAnima Academic Society
We are born in the body, and we are animated by what the ancient Greeks called psyché, or soul. It manifests itself in a complex way, at the level of thoughts, but especially of our affective states, be they emotions or feelings.
Recent decades have brought more and more testimonies in favor of a deep relationship between representations of the soul, between our thoughts and emotions, and our body. And these influences go down to an extremely fine level, that of the molecular “bricks” that contain the information of our uniqueness as a human: genes and DNA.
Scientists have observed that states such as happiness, joy, inspiration, gratitude, prayer can activate beneficial genes. This discovery, which was one of the hypotheses (verified!) of the Japanese Dr. Kazuo Murakami, can cause a real revolution in our way of thinking and relating to our being.
Recent research in the field of genetics has revealed that the environment and various external factors can change the way our genes manifest. Numerous phenomena indicate the existence of this medium-genetic material connection. For example, a severe shock can cause a person’s hair to turn gray within a day. Or, conversely, a patient with terminal cancer can live for many months or even years, if he is not informed about the stage of the course of his disease. Someone who has never smoked a single cigarette in their life can get lung cancer, and someone else who smoked 2 packs of cigarettes daily can be relatively healthy. Finally, although excessive salt consumption can lead to hypertension, there are enough people who consume salt in excess, keeping their blood pressure perfectly normal.
There are also known cases where certain people have manifested extraordinary powers and abilities under extreme environmental conditions. Thus, a mother whose child was trapped under heavy furniture after an earthquake was able to lift that ten-kilogram piece of furniture on her own to save her child. Another man was able to make an impressive jump over certain obstacles and reach an unusual speed when chased by a predator. In the same sense, we all know that when we are in love, we can resort to deeds that give us exceptional performances!
These things happen routinely, and people have always found different explanations. In reality, these phenomena are directly correlated with how our genes work, and the results vary depending on the individual’s attitude.
In addition to causing cell division and transmitting hereditary characteristics, genes act on a much deeper level. For example, they play an essential role in extracting linguistic information from the brain. Genes also intervene fundamentally when we perform any activity, simple or complex. The fact that we don’t become cows or chickens when we eat their meat is also due to genes!
On the other hand, virtually infinite combinations of genes ensure the uniqueness of every individual born on Earth. For every child there are about 70 trillion possible combinations of genes! Therefore, apparent chance may play a significant role in the manifestation of certain combinations of genes. For example, it is not certain that the marriage of a very beautiful woman with a very intelligent man will result in a child beautiful like his mother and intelligent like his father.
We might ask: who wrote this amazing code? Life cannot be the fruit of pure chance, even if all the fundamental elements necessary for the creation of an organism exist in nature. It is like claiming that a car can assemble itself, spontaneously, if its component parts are put together. It is obvious that a higher consciousness must be at the core of this creation, a power that transcends human understanding!
The statement “disease is born in the mind” is well known. Thus, the way we think can make us sick or, on the contrary, heal us! This is where genes come in. Some scientists even believe that our genes and how they manifest determine our happiness in life! This does not mean that our state of happiness is genetically predetermined. The genes that govern beneficial states exist latent in each individual and are waiting to be activated.
Geneticists have proven that only 5-10% of our genes actually work! We still don’t know exactly what the other, inactivated genes do. Precisely the fact that our mental state can change the way genes work is due to the state of inactivation of certain genes. Recent hypotheses of geneticists correlate a positive attitude, maintained for a long time, with the degree of activation of some “happiness genes”. They call this way of living life with enthusiasm and energetic vitality – “life with activated genes”, or “genetic way of thinking” (Dr. Kazuo Murakami, “The Divine Code of Life”, Ed. Daksha, Bucharest). Beyond any doubt, it is known that many people who have changed the course of history have shown a positive attitude.
Exposure to a new environment can also act as a catalyst for the activation of passive genes. Some people who start working in a new environment quickly end up giving excellent results that they had not previously achieved. And people who consider themselves irretrievably failed achieve poor results in their work.
Our bodies contain an enormous amount of cells (about a trillion per kilogram of body). It is easy to calculate that a 60 kg person “contains” about 60 trillion cells! Surprisingly, every cell contains the same genes (with a few exceptions). But at least theoretically, it’s not possible for a hair cell to eventually become a heart cell, or for a nail cell to become a stomach cell. The cells therefore possess a certain functional specialization. Thus, genes in nail cells were “programmed” or activated “nail manifestation”, while all other possibilities of gene manifestation were blocked.
Genes possess a great deal of information, including about turning themselves on or off in certain situations. Geneticists call this set of genetic instruction – activation and deactivation mechanisms. Some genes turn on after certain periods of time (for example, those containing information about secondary sex characteristics, which manifest themselves at puberty). Both the external environment and our mental state can speed up or slow down these processes. Scientists are increasingly convinced that an individual’s mental state is directly correlated with the mechanism of turning our genes on or off
About 60 years ago, researchers François Jacob and Jacques Monod, from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, conducted some exceptional experiments on cultures of Escherichia coli bacteria. These bacteria are usually found in the intestine, and feed mainly on glucose. When scientists placed bacteria in an environment rich in glucose and lactose, bacteria chose exclusively the former to feed. They did not react at all to the presence of lactose. But at a later stage of the experiment, cultures of bacteria were exposed only to a lactose-rich environment. At first, the bacteria did not feed at all, but after a while they began to consume the offered lactose, thus continuing their multiplication process.
Through their experiment, Jacob and Monod set out to determine whether the ability to digest lactose is acquired after bacteria are exposed to a lactose-rich environment, or whether this ability already exists ab initio (in other words, whether it is an innate or acquired ability). Their research led to the conclusion that this genetic characteristic was predetermined. E. coli bacteria therefore possess, by default, the ability to produce enzymes that “digest” lactose (lactases). When glucose is available, the enzyme-producing gene is deactivated, but when lactose is the only food available, this gene activates to keep the bacteria alive! It was, therefore, a capacity that remained passive until a state of necessity related to the survival of the microorganism appeared. This scientific discovery opens up fantastic possibilities for exploring the capacity to activate the latent potential contained in our genes!
Currently, the attention of genetic scientists is again attracted to the behavior and exploitation possibilities of cultures of E. coli bacteria. Due to the rather virulent epidemics caused by some strains of it, many people regard these bacteria with reservation. But they have been shown to be a wonderful host for gene transfer. E. coli contains only 4.6 million pieces of genetic information, compared to the 3 billion in the human genome. In addition, its complete genetic structure has been known since 1997. Many applications of genetic activation can be performed from bacterial cultures.
Then, in 2003, a Japanese-led experiment provided scientific evidence proving the impact of positive thinking on genes. Japanese scientists have hypothesized that mental factors can have a precise impact on the state of activation or deactivation of genes. Thus, they postulated that positive states such as joy, enthusiasm, confidence, etc., stimulate and activate beneficial gene codes, while negative states such as anxiety, stress, sadness, fear, pain, etc., disable and block the manifestation of beneficial genes.
Specifically, the researchers studied the effects of laughter (index of positive emotion) on gene manifestation, translated into blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. They measured the subjects’ fasting blood sugar; Then, half of them were subjected to a dull reading, while the other half watched a televised comedy show. After that, subjects were served meals, then their blood sugar was measured again. Those who watched the reading showed a 123 mg increase in blood glucose levels, while the second group had an average increase of only 77 mg per dl. These types of experiments were resumed with different groups of subjects, in order to ascertain the validity of the obtained results.
The Japanese study proved that laughter has a beneficial effect on blood glucose levels. It was certified that 23 genes were activated due to laughter! Furthermore, the dopamine D4 receptor gene, responsible for inhibiting the enzyme adenylate cyclase (which increases blood glucose), was activated by laughter. Therefore, simply maintaining a state of stenic mood, good mood and laughter, can help control blood glucose levels in diabetics.
For the first time in the history of genetics, this study demonstrated that positive emotion triggers the “mechanism of genetic activation” (see rev. “Diabetes care”, May 2003, and “Psychotherapy and psychosomatics”, 2006). News agencies widely popularized this information at the time of its discovery. What is genetically expressed is therefore NOT definitive. We have the power to activate beneficial genes, and to inactivate genes carrying “harmful information.”
Every human possesses both genes that trigger the disease called cancer and genes that inactivate it. If they are in a certain balance, the disease does not occur. What is essential here is to maintain this balance. There is a simple way to turn off harmful genes and activate beneficial ones: change your mental attitude. We all already know that it has a profound effect on the health of our bodies. If we repeat mentally, with conviction: “I’m sick, I’m getting worse”, even being healthy. We will soon feel that the general organic and psychic state becomes more and more degraded. Conversely, repeating to us with conviction and enthusiasm that “we are getting better and better”, this conviction will manifest itself in increased physical and mental tone.
We all have good times, when we are overflowing with energy, and unpleasant periods, when we are “under the wave”. How can we fight depression that inevitably occurs with greater or lesser intensity in such difficult times? Simple: we can call on genes that bring extra energy. A simple method to do this is to cultivate the state of inspiration, enthusiasm. Especially when it is difficult for us, it is essential to resort to activities that produce us deep pleasure. Enthusiasm, enthusiasm make us abandon the state of discouragement and despair. Deep, beneficial, tonic emotions are the most important triggers of beneficial gene activity!
But there is another category of events (from the class of “catalysts in the external environment”) that can activate our amazing capacities of positive genes: difficult, critical situations. We all have enormous potential, but sometimes, to activate it, a “shock” is needed: a cornered mouse can attack a cat. Some former Nazi camp inmates developed amazing coping skills that allowed them to survive (a prime example is psychologist Viktor Frankl). Critical situations, challenges, incite us to use our mind to overcome dilemmas or obstacles.
Another method of positive gene activation is continuous exposure to new information, to a constantly changing external environment.
It is interesting to note that there is also the possibility of two life partners interacting down to the genetic level. Thus, with the conception of a child (to which both mother and father contribute), some genes that the fetus inherits from the father can influence, through the placenta, the mother’s body during pregnancy. This possibility remains under discussion in humans, with experiments so far highlighting the phenomenon only in mice. But again, theoretically, the effect is perfectly possible in human beings too!
We could therefore consider genes as true information chips, which can connect to one living system or another, through different force fields: chemical, through molecular elements; but also psychic, through what we might metaphorically call “soul and thought waves”. We might ask: what type of thinking can be harmful? Certainly, this includes negative thinking, contrary to the laws of nature, to the universe, to the “implicit order” (as physicist David Bohm called it). Because people have different value systems, on their small scale of appreciation, it is difficult to exhaustively define a “good-bad” register. But one thing is certain: when our genes act harmoniously in order to sustain life and a happy coexistence of all living things, they are in the category of beneficial ones.
Dr. Kazuo Murakami, after over 20 years of work on the genetics front, offers three suggestions that support the activation of beneficial genes: (1) cultivating noble intentions; (2) adopting a permanent attitude of gratitude to the Creator for all that we receive daily; and (3) persistently cultivating positive thinking.
There are two sides to everything: strength and weakness, light and shadow. Any disease, however terrible, also has a beneficial side. For example, many people today consider AIDS to be a kind of divine punishment for immorality and modern sexual debauchery. But on closer inspection, we see that practically throughout human history, regardless of periods, sexual immorality has existed. Eventually, it diminished in times of terrible disease, cholera, plague, exhausting wars or famine. However, we can consider that AIDS, which does not kill directly, but dramatically weakens the immune system, is a good alarm signal about the importance of this system and the need to protect it. In fact, there are many cases of HIV-infected people who, constantly showing an optimistic attitude, have indefinitely stopped the onset of AIDS.
Scientists are increasingly studying esoteric aspects to explain to themselves the new phenomena that science is facing. They have come to believe that everything that happens to us is, on some level, necessary. But each of us can be that “orchestra leader” who masterfully conducts the symphony of his own life, making it as grandiose as possible, twinned with the harmonious chords of the lives of our fellow human beings.