Hello Readers! I hope you are all well, filled with vitality and enjoying holiday preparation.
Last week I mentioned that I was going to a conference and would tell you some of the things I learned. The conference was NICABM, the National Institute for the Application of Behavioral Medicine, and it was held in Hilton Head,South Carolina(where it was chilly and rainy!)
Many scientists came to this conference and presented their beliefs. I found the talks interesting but I also found a contradiction in messages. On one hand, the speakers seemed to believe in the resilience of the human mind-body but at the same time, they seemed to believe that who we are as adults is largely determined by early childhood experiences. After years of taking pressure off Mom, her shoulders are being burdened again.
Many speakers emphasized being helpful to children. Our children, the speakers said, are our national treasure. Their success and well being as adults has to do with early childhood experiences.
The challenge to parent well has a great deal to do with Mom taking care of herself. Her ability to parent effectively is hugely impacted by her vibratory essence (basic physical and emotional health) which in turn influences her behaviors.
The scientists in Hilton Head reminded us that the mind is divided into two aspects, the unconscious and the conscious. The unconscious mind becomes filled with perceptions about self from the time of conception until the age of six. This mind is filled with perceptions that are acted out for the remainder of life. There is no bridge, the scientists told us, between the unconscious mind and the conscious mind. Their advice to mothers is to be supportive of feelings, set limits in a nurturing manner, speak kindly and send a plethora of realistic but positive messages. (I remembered that Ayurveda suggests that every day a mother say to her child, “You are smart, happy, and healthy.”) These words, according to the scientists would become reality because they affect the child at a cellular level.
A video from a research center inItalywas shown and in it a fetus showed signs of stress while the parents were yelling at each other in an angry, hostile manner. The researchers stated that until recent times the nervous system of the Mother was considered to be separate from that of the fetus. Science now knows that the fetus is continually bathed in the bio-chemicals of the Mother and that her stress directly affects her child. Who the child will become is partly established in the womb. (I had some trouble believing that the environment encountered there could not be reversed, but the scientists felt that this environment had a powerful and lasting influence.)
It is important that Mama, the researchers told us, take care of herself. However, there was no discussion of particular techniques for the release of stress. But, you, dear readers, know that the Transcendental Meditation program, yoga, proper nutrition for your body type, exercise and sleep work synergistically to relieve stress thus enabling you to communicate in a kind and loving manner. When we speak we communicate our internal feeling state. Take care of yourself and you will help others.
The scientists also spoke about the “new genetics.” This is called epigenetics. In the recent past science believed that DNA was responsible for pretty much everything in the determination of the individual. Currently, we know that DNA is influenced by the environment. A change in environment alters DNA. Nutrition can alter DNA. A peaceful environment can alter DNA. A stressful environment can alter DNA. The mind-body can change in either direction very quickly. (Ayurveda has been telling us that for centuries!) Modern science continues to meet Eastern philosophy.
What the sages have told us about life and living life continues to be validated. It is now validated by scientific knowledge about cellular biology. Meditation, nutrition, exercise, yoga, sleep, and breathing techniques are incredibly important for health and well being. These techniques alter our environment; thus affecting DNA, our self and everyone we come into contact with.
I attended a talk on addictions. A researcher inCaliforniahas identified several environmental factors leading to addictive behavior. A few of these are: physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, hostility between parents, an alcoholic parent, neglect, or physical abuse between parents. If a person scores as high as a 4 on the problem list, i.e., they have personally experienced four or more of the behaviors, they are over 5,000 times more likely to exhibit addictive behavior. The speaker remarked that researchers become excited when statistical evidence shows a slight leaning in one direction or another. Five thousand times as likely is sky high! Again, the way we are treated has everything to do with everything!
I left the conference knowing that once again Ayurveda was validated. I also left concerned about increased pressure on Moms. However, Ayurveda has the instruction manual to help Mothers relieve their personal stresses and, therefore, to interact with their children in helpful ways. I hope that at the next conference the scientists offer practical advice to Moms and I hope they include Fathers in their discussion of child rearing. Holism demands that we look at life through a wide- angle lens. If the environment is a huge determinant in outcome we need to offer people the tools to relieve stress and create a positive environment!
We wish everyone Happy Holidays. We won’t be writing again until after the first of the year. Until then—-Best wishes for perfect health and happiness.