The brain is one of the greatest organs of the body that scientists and researchers continue to explore over the years. Despite the numbers of research focused on this subject, the entire characteristics and capabilities of the brain have yet to be fully discovered. One very recent focus of brain studies involves mindfulness meditation.
The American Heart Association has endorsed and supported meditative mindfulness practice as a preventive intervention. This endorsement follows a study done previously that showed the benefits of mindfulness-based activities on disorders that were affected by inflammations.
In the recent study published in the Journal Psychoneuroendocrinology and done by researchers in the US, France, and Spain, scientists unlocked a new proof that confirms how the constant and rigorous practice of mindfulness can alter certain molecules in the body.
As part of the study, researchers directed their attention to a group of individuals who were experienced meditators and another group who did activities in a quiet environment that did not require meditation. The researchers discovered that there was a change in a range of genetic and molecular differences in the meditators’ bodies following the eight-hour practice of mindfulness. The changes affected their gene-regulating machinery and showed lowered levels of genes that cause inflammation in the body. These discoveries proved beneficial to the body as it enables it to recover quicker from stress given that less pro-inflammatory genes are produced.
Richard J. Davidson, who is the author of the study and likewise the founder of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that the study is the first to present rapid changes in genes concerning subjects that practice mindfulness through meditative activities.
Perla Kaliman, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain and first author of the article, also adds that the changes that were observed were found in the genes that analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs aim to cure.
The Link between Perception and Gene Activities in the Body
Scientists say that human perception can actually alter gene activities in the body. How does this happen?
Dr Bruce Lipton explains that this happens through the interactions of the mind, body chemistry, nervous system, and blood chemistry. Whenever the mind’s perception is received by the chemistry of the body, the nervous system can interpret this and affect the blood’s chemistry. The blood chemistry then is able to alter the changes in thoughts and, at the same time, alters the effects that this change brings to the cells in the body.
Our ability to change perception enables the body to alter the different gene activities in the body, which can then result in the production of more than thirty thousand variations of products in every gene. Dr Lipton further shares that the nucleus of the cell, which is responsible for containing gene programs, can alter certain genetic programs by affecting and changing the body’s blood chemistry.
These discoveries simply mean that our mind should be able to successfully unite our beliefs with the actual things that our body is experiencing in order to get beneficial results. For example, if the body is diagnosed with cancer, the best way to cure the disease is to change the way we think about it.
Dr Lipton explains that our body’s biology and behaviour adjusts and fixes its self according to what our mind believes. This is a basic case of the placebo and nocebo effect. The placebo effect is defined as healing interceded by positive thought, while the nocebo effect is its opposite. To bring this to a practical application, imagine that you are diagnosed with cancer and the doctor tells you that you have an estimate of 3 months left to live. If your body actually believes that this will happen in three months’ time, then your body responds accordingly. But, if you change your mindset and believe otherwise, your body will follow suit.
This occurrence is affected by our body’s conscious mind, subconscious mind, and brain chemistry. Our conscious mind tells us that, of course, we do not want to die. However, our subconscious mind settles to believe the doctor’s prognosis and thinks you will die. Neuroscientists believe that our subconscious controls 95% of our lives, hence if it believes that you will die in three months’ time, it will cause the brain chemistry in the body to believe such perception. Our subconscious mind is where our deepest beliefs are programmed and overrules our conscious mind. You can be sure that you will be dead upon reaching the 3rd month following your prognosis.
What Mindfulness Practice does to Regulatory Pathways
The outcome of the studies done by Richard Davidson all shows that the pro-inflammatory genes, such as COX2, histone deacetylase (HDAC), and RIPK2 have been affected by down-regulation of genes. This effect on genes proved to be helpful in allowing the body to recover quickly from stress-induced cortisol.
Going back to the two groups observed in the study, researchers noted that those changes seen in the meditators were not experienced by the group that did non-meditative activities in a quiet environment. This leads to prove that alterations in genetics can only be achieved through constant and intensive mindfulness meditative practice.
Davidson further states that our mind’s state can somehow control our genes’ expressions. In addition, Kaliman mentions that the proof set by their work sets a foundation for developing more meditation approaches to treat chronic inflammatory conditions in future studies.
The Power of the Subconscious Mind
Dr Lipton says that our subconscious mind is more powerful than our conscious mind. About 95 to 99% of our lives are operated by our subconscious. This is the reason why the efforts of our conscious minds to think positively sometimes go to waste. A lot of us are unaware that our subconscious overrides these positive thoughts because of the fact that most of our negative thinking is programmed in our subconscious mind.
To cite an example, whenever your conscious mindsets its belief to think of being healed from an ailment, your body may not respond to this thinking directly if the subconscious negates the thought. If this happens, the healing will not come. Even though you bombard your conscious mind with positive thinking every single day, the positive effects of this may not affect the body at all if the subconscious is anchored to negativity.
Another area in which the abilities of the subconscious mind are displayed magnanimously is through the lives of people with multiple personalities. A person may be allergic to nuts as it is conscious in one personality, but stepping into another means this may not be the same case. The person may as well eat nuts without reaping the consequences of an allergic reaction that can be experienced in the previous personality.
Our subconscious mind plays a vital role in enabling us to reach our fullest potential. This new science of epigenetics paves the way for each of us to be able to achieve whatever our minds set itself to believe in. This includes having the ability to heal our bodies naturally without the use of medications.