Science has proven through epigenetics that we inherit stress from our ancestors and that we absorb our mother’s stress in the womb. It has also proven that what we do today has an immense influence on our genetic expression, whether it develops into wellbeing or disease.
Both stress and relaxation are frequently misunderstood. It is often thought that stress is a minor problem, similar to a light cold, and that relaxation is simply an escape from work through recreation. They are much more than this.
Stress is deeply embedded in the body-mind from birth. You carry the cellular memory of the deep past; the trials and traumas of your ancestors, and the worries and tensions that your mother experienced while you were in her womb.
True relaxation is a skill that inhibits negative genetic expression and triggers positive genetic expression. It short-circuits your predisposition towards disease.
When you understand and practice relaxation you take significant control of your biological and psychological processes. You disrupt both the everyday stresses, and the deep tensions that you’ve carried since birth, and which have formed who you are. This enables regeneration of the body-mind on a cellular level.
Choosing how your genetics express
You had no choice or control over your ancestral inheritance, nor did you have a say in what happened to you in the womb. You inherited strengths and weaknesses from your ancestors, and you developed strengths and weaknesses while you were growing in the womb.
It is our weaknesses that cause us daily stress and, if not managed well, prevent us from dealing with ongoing accumulating pressures. This is what we all are obligated to address if we want a healthy, disease-free life. We have to learn how to use our strengths to manage our weaknesses and if we become skilled enough we can actually transform our weaknesses into strengths.
From a young age, you have made lifestyle choices that have had a positive or negative impact on your life. How well you feel today is a result of how successful you have been in reducing your accumulated daily stresses and combating the stress of your genetic inheritance.
Fortunately, you can still make choices today that will have a very positive impact on the rest your life, and that will alter your genetic vulnerabilities.
You are more powerful than you think
It is crucial to appreciate the immense power you have over your own genetic expression.
The lifestyle you create today; the amount of exercise you get, your eating habits, and the quality of your relationships play a big part in this.
Relaxation is a critical part of this. Research shows that yoga and meditation have a rapid and positive effect on genes. Your ability to relax and accumulate relaxation in your body-mind rather than stress is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Relaxation exerts a tremendously positive influence over all aspects of your life. It is a skill that can literally save your life.
Our new Relaxation Meditation Course teaches you how to relax, how to become aware of your stress levels and your stress triggers as they occur so that you stop accumulating stress. As you practice the techniques of this course and engage in the integration exercises you become sensitised to the damage that stress is causing you so that you tolerate it less and can quickly implement changes that promote relaxation and wellbeing.
You learn how to accumulate positive feelings of relaxation and resilience, rather than stress and weakness. This accumulation gives you great reserves of stabilised, healthy energy.
Epigenetic research into stress during pregnancy
Science has long known about the negative effects of stress on pregnant animals through research on monkeys. However this kind of investigation is tough to do in human subjects for obvious reasons, it isn’t ethical (while it is ethical in monkeys?).
An opportunity to conduct this research in humans occurred in January 1998 when a group of Canadian researchers took advantage of a natural disaster, a devastating ice storm in Québec. One of the country’s worst natural disasters, the ice storm resulted in power outages across eastern Canada, forcing residents to brave the severe cold without electricity for up to six weeks.
Suzanne King, an associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University, created Project Ice Storm, which over the last 15 years has followed 150 children who were exposed to this natural disaster while in the womb. The research revealed that the longer women were exposed to stress, the more severe was the impact on their children’s genetic expression. (Link to research paper http://www.mcgill.ca/projetverglas/)
It showed that stress during pregnancy resulted in impaired general cognitive, intellectual and language development of their children. Stress had a negative effect on a host of measures, including lower IQ, impaired language ability, a greater likelihood of obesity, a weakened immune system and increased chance of food allergies.
From the point of view of epigenetics, we can assume that relaxation and meditation will have a positive impact on how genes express.