The Science Behind What We DoThere have been many major breakthroughs in science in the last century some of which have had profound influence on the way in which we perceive ourselves, relate to our health and even understand our brain.
Who is in Charge Here???Dr. Bruce Lipton, cellular biologist and author of The Biology of Beliefs, has introduced a revolutionary new understanding of the connection between our biology and our beliefs. His pioneering research uncovered a radical idea: our cells are not controlled by our DNA. No longer are we helpless to our genetic inheritance, or "victims to our biology."
Historically, the DNA was considered a major factor in overall health. Your inherited DNA gave you either "good genes" or bad ones. Today, we know that the DNA is not the sole deciding factor, and that genes actually express themselves based upon information the whole system receives. For example, if we are afraid our cells retreat into protection mode, and when we feel safe our cells open and blossom into healthy growth mode.
What profoundly influences how our cells operate is our belief system, which filters all of the information to which we are exposed. Our belief system is created from our experiences, many of which are stored at the unconscious level. We all have beliefs about how safe we are, how valued we are, or how alone or worthwhile we are. Anything that threatens our safety, sense of belonging, or value will be negatively coded.
Imagine your nervous system is similar to a security system, designed to keep you safe. In order to do that, it needs to know what poses a real or potential threat. It has created "protected" files in which all the experiences that have shocked or frightened you are recorded. Because these critical files are tied to your safety, they are safeguarded in such a way that they cannot be tampered with or deleted by accident. Your internal "security system" uses the data in these files to identify anything that could be a threat. Anything from the outside world that matches this data will trigger an alarm.
Unfortunately, the nervous system cannot tell the difference between "thinking" about a scary event, and actually "experiencing" one. Hence our systems are being over-triggered. This is what creates hyper-vigilance and reactivity: a tendency to over-react to what others may perceive as a small or insignificant incident. Even thinking about a small incident, if it triggers other experiences logged in the system, will feel like a very big deal. By re-booting the system we can clear this backlog of files that trigger the alarm, and provide an opportunity to release stress on the system, and establish a new equilibrium. Having a "clear" system allows you to be grounded, calm, and present to what is happening now and in the flow of life.
Thinking With Our Heart?Another area of great relevance is the understanding that we actually have more than one brain, and that our most current brain is located in our heart. The brain we normally think of, the one in our head, is actually made up of four distinctly different brains all intricately interconnected and evolved over thousands of years.
The reptilian brain was the first and is very connected to the Prime Potential® work because this brain is in charge of the fight/flight/freeze...response. This is the brain that gets triggered when we feel at risk. Once this brain is triggered it is very difficult to slow it down or turn it off. It moves immediately into protection, shutting down our capacity to think clearly, hear effectively and even speak coherently.
Joseph Chilton Pearce, in his book, The Biology of Transcendence – a Blueprint of the Human Spirit, outlines how our brain has developed over millennia and states that "Nature never abandons a system that works but instead builds new, enlarged and more efficient systems upon the old. She seems to have created each new evolutionary brain to correct problems in an older system or to expand its possibilities." Clearly we needed to evolve beyond just the reptilian brain and its fight/flight/freeze...response.
The next brain to evolve was the old-mammalian, limbic, or emotional-cognitive brain. It is in this brain that the foundation is laid for the nurturing/emotional aspect of our nature and our relationship capacities; a giant step forward.
The neo-cortex, new-mammalian, or verbal-intellectual brain came next. This brain introduced language and thinking, opening up exciting possibilities such as the capacity to stand back and reflect on our own behaviour, and not just react.
Dr. Pearce writes, "Our three brains develop in utero as a nested hierarchy in the order of their appearance in evolutionary history: The reptilian brain begins its functions in the first trimester of gestation, the old mammalian in the second, and the neocortex in the third. Nature’s newest addition, our prefrontal cortex (prefrontal lobes) makes its major debut after birth."
The prefrontal cortex is estimated to be only about 40,000 years old, and it starts developing after the baby is born, and continues developing until the early 20's. The lack of judgement we sometime observe with adolescents can be, in part, due to the unfinished development of the prefrontal cortex, which is the major centre for more complex, insightful thinking.
Most recently, scientists have discovered neural cells (brain cells) in both the heart and the gut. A whopping 60-65% of the cells in the heart are neural cells, revealing that the heart is not just a pump but, rather, a powerhouse of intelligence. Researchers have observed the heart's capacity to know, before an event happens, that it is about to happen. "Four to seven seconds before a negative picture is randomly chosen and presented, the heart-brain feedback systems register a distinct pattern of response." Another impressive aspect of the heart-brain is its electromagnetic field, which is so powerful it spans twelve to fifteen feet outward from the body. Optimizing the heart and gut intelligence is an essential component of our evolutionary development and a key part of bringing the whole system into alignment in the work we do.
Our Brains: Changing and AdaptingMore new and exciting discoveries have been made about the brain's capacity to change and grow. It was a major landmark when the mapping of the brain was completed. This map allowed scientists and surgeons to locate and track brain activity and to conduct sophisticated surgical interventions. The paradigm/perspective of the day viewed the brain as static, similar to a child's wooden puzzle where each piece had its place, and each part of the brain was responsible for a specific task.
The latest research has revealed that this is definitely not the case. The brain is much more fluid (known as neuroplasticity) than we thought, different parts can learn new functions and can develop abilities to compensate for damage or loss. One example of a new frontier that is being explored is giving non-sighted people information, through other portals than the eyes, and assisting the brain to process this information so the person can "see."
In the past, a stroke victim’s recovery profile included a recovery ceiling of two years. After two years it was believed that further recovery was unlikely, if not impossible. Today, stroke victims (even 45 years later) are being helped by innovative techniques to re-establish brain and body functioning. Dr. Norman Doidge, author of, The Brain that Changes Itself, presents an impressive collection of varied case histories all illustrating new understandings of the brain's plasticity and capacity to grow. He includes psychotherapy as a powerful way to literally assist the brain to change. It is wonderful to know our brain is growing right up until we die and that how we live and evolve can powerfully affect our brain's growth.
We'd love you to find out more about Prime Potential and it's ability to impact a broad range of issues related to the development of human potential.