Conscious Parenting: Parents As Genetic Engineers

28 Jun

Did you know your family heredity isn’t the be all, end all? And your genes are not “fixed”? It’s true!

The outcome of your health is in your hands. It just requires changing your perceptions of the world you live in. Imagine! You can actually prevent the onset of breast cancer, high cholesterol or any other disease.

Everything you thought you knew about how your genes work has been completely revolutionized. We’ve always learned that we are victims of our genes and whatever disease or cancer runs in our family is bound to affect us too – but this simply isn’t true. The time has come for you to take back your power. New science shows that our genes do not control our lives—we do.

It was a chance encounter with a chiropractor, many years ago, that led me to not only an appreciation for kinesiology, but also the astonishing realization that my conscious mind was not always in control. I was amazed to discover that there was another “mind,” another force, that was co-piloting my life. More shocking was the fact that this hidden mind, the mind I knew little about (except theoretically in psychology) was actually more powerful than my conscious mind, just as Freud had claimed. After hobbling in at the start of the session, I was able to saunter out feeling like a new man after a few simple, vertebral adjustments on the table . . . all without the use of drugs. And most importantly, I was introduced to the “man behind the curtain,” my subconscious mind! You can find the full story in my book, The Biology Of Belief.

Nature Versus Nurture

To understand better what had happened in that chiropractor’s office, I first turned to comparative neuroanatomy, which reveals that the lower an organism is on the Tree of Evolution, the less developed its nervous system and thus the more it relies on preprogrammed behavior (nature). Moths fly toward the light, sea turtles return to specific islands and lay their eggs on the beach at the appropriate time, and the swallows return to Capistrano on a specific date, yet, as far as we know, none of these organisms have any knowledge of why they engage in those behaviors. The behaviors are innate; they are genetically built into the organism and are classified as instincts.

Organisms higher in the Tree have more complexly integrated nervous systems headed by bigger and bigger brains that allow them to acquire intricate behavioral patterns through experiential learning (nurture).

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Our Innate Instincts

We do have, of course, behavioral instincts that are innate— consider the infant’s instinct to suckle, to quickly move his hand away from fire, and to automatically swim when placed in water. Instincts are built-in behaviors that are fundamental to the survival of all humans, independent of what culture they belong to or what time in human history they were born. But through evolution, our learned perceptions have become more powerful, especially because they can override genetically programmed instincts. The body’s physiological mechanisms (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow/bleeding patterns, body temperature) are, by their nature, programmed instincts. However, yogis as well as everyday people using biofeedback can learn to consciously regulate these “innate” functions.

Human Programming: When Good Mechanisms Go Bad

Human beings, have to learn so much so quickly to survive and become a part of their social community. Evolution has endowed our brains with the ability to rapidly download an unimaginable number of behaviors and beliefs into our memory. Both adults and children display EEG variations that range from low frequency delta waves through high frequency beta waves. However, researchers have noted that EEG activity in children reveals, at every developmental stage, the predominance of a specific brain wave.

Delta – The Lowest Frequency, 0-2 years old

Operates at the lowest EEG frequency, (0.5 to 4 cycles per second Hz).

Theta – Critical Programming Years, 2-6 years old

A higher level of EEG activity (4-8 cycles per second Hz)

Hypnotherapists drop their patients’ brain activity into theta because this low frequency brain wave puts them into a more suggestible, programmable state.

This gives us an important clue as to how children, whose brains are mostly operating at this frequency through six years of age, can download the incredible volume of information they need to thrive in their environment.

The ability to process this vast quantity of information is an important neurologic adaptation to facilitate this information-intense process of enculturation. Young children carefully observe their environment and download the worldly wisdom offered by parents directly into their subconscious memory. As a result, their parents’ behavior and beliefs become their own.

The fundamental behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes we observe in our parents become “hardwired” as synaptic pathways in our subconscious minds. Once programmed into the subconscious mind, they control our biology for the rest of our lives . . . or at least until we make the effort to reprogram them.

Given the precision of this behavior-recording system, imagine the consequences of hearing your parents say you are a “stupid child,” you “do not deserve things,” will “never amount to anything,” “never should have been born,” or are a “sickly, weak” person. When unthinking or uncaring parents pass on those messages to their young children, they are no doubt oblivious to the fact that such comments are downloaded into the subconscious memory as absolute “facts” just as surely as bits and bytes are downloaded to the hard drive of your desktop computer.

During early development, the child’s consciousness has not evolved enough to critically assess that those parental pronouncements were only verbal barbs and not necessarily true characterizations of “self.” Once programmed into the subconscious mind, however, these verbal abuses become defined as “truths” that unconsciously shape the behavior and potential of the child through life.

Alpha – Calm Consciousness, 6-12 years old

Increasing appearance of higher frequency Alpha waves (8-12 cycles per second Hz).

We become less susceptible to outside programming as Alpha activity is equated with states of calm consciousness. While most of our senses, such as eyes, ears, and nose, observe the outer world, consciousness resembles a “sense organ” that behaves like a mirror reflecting back the inner workings of the body’s own cellular community; it is an awareness of “self.”

Beta – Active, Focused Consciousness, 12+ years old

At 12+ years old we begin to show sustained periods of Beta waves (12-35 cycles per second Hz).

Beta brain states are characterized as “active or focused consciousness,” the kind of brain activity used in reading a book, or focusing on a school or work project.

Gamma

Recently, a fifth, higher state of EEG activity has been defined. Referred to as gamma waves (>35 Hz), this EEG frequency range kicks in during states of “peak performance,” such as when pilots are in the process of landing a plane or a professional tennis player is engaged in a rapid-fire volley.

By the time children reach adolescence, their subconscious minds are chock-full of information that ranges from the knowledge of how to walk, to the “knowledge” they will never amount to anything or the “knowledge”, fostered by loving parents, that they can do anything they set out to do. The sum of our genetically programmed instincts and the beliefs we learned from our parents collectively form the fundamental programs in the subconscious mind. Programs that can undo both our ability to keep our arm raised in a chiropractor’s office and our best New Year’s resolutions to stop sabotaging ourselves with drugs or food.

Again I go back to cells, which can teach us so much about ourselves. I’ve said many times that single cells are intelligent. But remember, when cells band together in creating multicellular communities, they follow the “collective voice” of the organism, even if that voice dictates self-destructive behavior. Our physiology and behavior patterns conform to the “truths” of the central voice, be they constructive or destructive beliefs.

I’ve described the power of the subconscious mind, but I want to emphasize that there is no need to consider the subconscious a scary, super-powerful, Freudian font of destructive “knowledge.” In reality, the subconscious is an emotionless database of stored programs, whose function is strictly concerned with reading environmental signals and engaging in hardwired behavioral programs, no questions asked, no judgments made. The subconscious mind is similar to a programmable “hard drive” into which our life experiences are downloaded. The programs are functionally equivalent to hardwired stimulus-response behaviors. Behavior activating stimuli may be signals the nervous system detects from the external world and/or signals that arise from within the body such as emotions, pleasure, and pain. When a stimulus is perceived, it will automatically engage the behavioral response that was learned when the signal was first experienced. In fact, people who realize the automated nature of this playback response frequently admit to the fact that their “buttons have been pushed.”

Before the evolution of the conscious mind, the functions of animal brains consisted only of those that we link with the sub-conscious mind. These more primitive minds were simple stimulus-response devices that automatically responded to environmental stimuli by engaging genetically programmed (instincts) or simple learned behaviors. These animals do not “consciously” evoke such behaviors, and in fact, may even be oblivious to them. Their behaviors are programmed reflexes, like the blink of an eye in response to a puff of air or the kick of a leg after tapping the knee joint.

The conscious mind is the “self,” the voice of our own thoughts. It can have great visions and plans for a future filled with love, health, happiness, and prosperity. While we focus our consciousness on happy thoughts, who is running the show? The subconscious. How is the subconscious going to manage our affairs? Precisely the way it was programmed. The behaviors managed by the subconscious mind when we are not paying attention may not be of our own creation because most of our fundamental behavioral programs were downloaded without question from observing other people. Because subconscious-generated behaviors are not generally observed by the conscious mind, many people are stunned to hear that they are just like their mom or their dad, the people who programmed their subconscious minds.

The learned behaviors and beliefs acquired from other people, such as parents, peers, and teachers, may not support the goals or desires of our conscious mind. The biggest impediments to realizing the successes of which we dream are the limitations programmed into the subconscious.

Nature did not intend the presence of the dual minds to be our Achilles heel. In fact, this duality offers a wonderful advantage for our lives. Consider it this way: what if we had conscious parents and teachers who served as wonderful life models, always engaging in humane and win-win relations with everyone in the community? If our subconscious mind were programmed with such healthy behaviors, we could be totally successful in our lives without ever being conscious!

How much easier would it be to be nurtured from the beginning of life so that you can reach your genetic and creative potential? How much better to become a conscious parent so that your children and their children will be conscious parents, making reprogramming unnecessary and making for a happier, more peaceful planet!

My book, The Biology of Belief, celebrates it’s 10th Anniversary this year and is being re-released in an updated and expanded edition to include much of the new research on the subject of Epigenetics.

Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., a pioneer in the new biology, is an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit. A cell biologist by training, Bruce was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and later performed groundbreaking stem-cell research at Stanford University.

 

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