Can we effect how fast or slowly our body ages? Our thoughts, feelings, and behavior effect the aging of our body. One way we can observe the process of aging is by looking at reproduction of our cells. Our cells reproduce themselves using our DNA as a blueprint. When the DNA does not function properly during the division of cells, the cells that are reproduced are subpar. This is part of the process of aging in our bodies.
Telomeres are involved with our DNA reproduction intimately. Telomeres are the protective caps that are at the ends of chromosomes. The length of telomeres are related to our longevity. When we are depressed or exposed to chronic stress, our telomeres tend to be shorter. When we worry about things that appear threatening, then our telomeres tend to be shorter. When we run out of telomere, the assumption is that we get diseases and age.
When we have stressful experiences inside our pregnant mother (in utero), then our telomeres are shortened. When we experience verbal or physical abuse as a child, our telomeres are shortened as well. Domestic Violence is another factor than shortens our telomeres. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is something that shortens telomeres. When we do not receive the needed nutrients in what we eat and drink, then our telomeres are shortened as well. The loss of love also will tend to shorten our telomeres.
The science of Epigenetics offers us hope. Epi means above. We are recognizing the vital significance of what happens above the gene. Our genes are only a blueprint of our cells. The surface area of our cells are what determines the health of a cell. The signals that are received at the surface area of the cell determine whether the cell thrives or not. If the cell receives signals that the environment is toxic, then the cell will prepare to defend itself. If the cell receives signal that the environment is nurturing, then the cell will prepare to thrive. Our thoughts, feelings, food, and beverages are the signals that our cells receive. What we eat and drink as well as our thoughts and feelings will determine the health of our bodies. We have a choice.
When we practice mindfulness, our telomeres tend to be longer. Telomerase are enzymes that can lengthen telomeres that are shortened. Even when telomeres are shortened to a critical length, telomerase promote the longevity of a cell. Telomerase can lengthen our lives. What controls these enzymes called telomerase?
When we focus on what is positive in our lives, it helps produce telomerase. “Accentuate the Positive” is an old song sung by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers. It helps to focus on what is working in our life. Another thing that increases the enzyme of telomerase is self-love. The feeling of love for yourself is a critical factor in our health. When we exercise, we increase our telomerase. When we are happy, our telomerase is increased. When we engage in service, it increases our telomerase. Service are actions we take for the benefit of others. Altruism is healthy. When we express gratitude, it stimulates that production of the enzyme telomerase. Good nutrition also can produce telomerase, such as the fish oil – Omega 3 – found in Salmon. Mindfulness can also produce telomerase. These are the practices that can increase the length of our life. Bruce Lipton says that our life spans can increase significantly from 80 to 90 years.
Please watch this video from Elizabeth Schindler about Food and Love and consider that your future is in your own hands:
“Food is the most powerful drug you will ever take,” writes Barry Sears.
We are effected greatly by the food we eat. I think there are many variations in how each person’s body metabolizes food. Learning which foods specifically work well with your body is essential. Every cell in your body makes themselves new every 5 months, including your brain cells. When we eat a healthful food, our body is able to function better. What we eat makes a big difference in how we feel.
Our cells are not determined by their genes, because genes are only a blueprint. What directs the cellular development are the signals sent to our cells with what we drink, eat, think, and feel. The science of Epigenetics researches how our genes are influenced by our choices.
Anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, poor attention, and worry can be effected by food. Many people who are depressed overeat or eat too little. Skipping breakfast can lead to low energy in the morning. Eating a big meal can make one tired, ready for a nap.
Sugar can give one a temporary high with an increase in blood sugar, but then can lead to a drop in blood sugar. This crash in blood sugar can leave one feeling tired. Research indicates that foods high in sugar have the same effects as addictive drugs, like cocaine or heroin.
Inflammation is a physical condition that can lead to heart disease and complications from aging. Foods high in sugar, refined flour, processed foods, trans fats and saturated fats can lead to inflammation. “To treat depression, we must learn how to get rid of causes of inflammation and restore the normal immune balance through our food and nutrients, as well as our exercise, sleep, and stress management habits,” writes Dr. Hyman.
Do you know that you have a gut-brain with more neurotransmitters and serotonin than in the brain located in your head? “Over the years I have seen emotional, psychiatric, and behavioral symptoms triggered by problems in the gut,” writes Dr. Mark Hyman. Our gut-brain is the enteric nervous system (ENS). The bugs who live in your gut are more important in determining your health than your DNA fingerprint, writes Dr. David Relman. Foods low in fiber, high in sugar, processed, and lacking nutrients as well as a high calorie diet cause all the wrong bacteria to grow in our gut. Resolving these issues can have a profound effect on your mental and physical health.
Many of us suffer quietly with anxiety and depression. These mental health problems touch many of our family or friends. Dr. Mark Hyman writes, “Our broken brains cause many problems – anxiety, depression, bipolar disease, personality disorders, eating disorders, addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, (autistic disorders) … learning difficulties, and dyslexia. Many psychiatrists and neurologists wouldn’t qualify these problems as treatable diseases.”
Daniel Amen writes that “a therapist told us this story at a recent lecture:
‘I’m glad you mentioned sugar. I used to be a very angry person; sometimes I would even scare my family. It made me feel terrible. I took anger management classes, but they didn’t even seem to help. When I eliminated sugar from my diet, I noticed an almost immediate reduction in outbursts, plus I had better energy, lost weight, and was much more focused.’”
There is hope. We can change a great deal with good information and our willingness to do what it takes to be healthy and whole. Please watch this video with Elizabeth Schindler and learn about Primary Food:
“The ego is the seat of consciousness and if consciousness creates the world, the ego is doing God’s creative work in its effort to realize itself through the way of individuation” Edward Edinger.
The quality of our life is largely dependent on the health of our ego. If our ego is healthy, we will be flexible, strong, compassionate, aware and constructive. Having a healthy ego takes effort; we need to choose to do the work to grow up and mature.
My ego has two basic powers. The first power of the ego is observation, and the second power is choice. These are the two main functions of our minds: to monitor and modify.
What is an ego? When I look out from my eyes and see the world, I am aware of myself and the world. In some ways, it feels no different from when I was 7 years of age. I have a continuity of my sense of identity as an individual. I call this part of myself “I” or “me,” and I am referring to my ego. My ego is the part of me that is aware or conscious.
There are factors which help strengthen the ego: balancing one’s brain, regulating one’s feelings, reclaiming one’s projections, and engaging in self-care. These skills helps one see the world more clearly and make life giving choices. When my brain is balanced, I am able to use both sides of my brain. My left brain is about logic, facts, and time. My right brain is involved with relationships, emotions, and spatial relationships. When the sides of my brain are balanced and connected, I have access to both brain hemispheres when observing the world and making choices.
When I am able to calm myself down, I am able to see more objectively. When I calm myself down, I am not overwhelmed with emotions. As I am able to remain more neutral, my choices are more reflective of the facts of the situation.
A projection is something that interferes with my ability to see clearly. My projections are when I see parts of myself in others. A teenager is having a projection, when he idealizes an athlete or rock star. He is seeing his potential strength and creativity in another person. When he is able to see these projections and reclaim them, he is empowered. He does this by doing the work to develop his skills in music and sports. As he gains mastery in himself, he has more objectivity and confidence. He feels empowered, because he sees himself as he is. He can see his internal power.
When I take care of my needs for sleep, healthful food, exercise, and time with emotionally supportive family and friends, I feel calmer and see more objectively.
When I have a working ego, I am willing to do the work of an adult. I take the steps to keep my ego strong and healthy as an adult. I get 8-10 hours of sleep, eat healthful foods, take time to exercise my body, and talk with empathic friends and family. I also play and have fun. A working ego also implies a willingness to make difficult choices that support the vitality of my life and the lives of others.
An unhealthy ego is an ego that is weak. When an ego is not strong, it attempts to be the only center of the person. When our ego is weak, our energy alternates between thinking we are greater than we are (inflation) and thinking we are less than we are (deflation). It is like a balloon being too full or flat. We are most effective when we see ourselves and the world as we are – no more, no less.
It is possible to wield great power as a president of a company, the leader of a country, or a religious leader, and to still remain quite unconscious. Sadly, this is more often true than not. It is possible to be a leader who manages things and people with great authority and precision and still not be awake. If one does not have the interest or take the time to think introspectively – to examine oneself – then it is impossible to be conscious.
Our ego is formed when we are young. As young baby, our ego begins by being uninformed. We are totally dependent on our parents for survival. We are unable to see ourselves as separate from our mother. Over time, we begin to see that we are separate from our mother and by crying or smiling our mother responds by feeding us, changing us, holding us, or smiling at us. As we gain strength, we become more aware of how we can influence our own life. Our powers of awareness and choice are born in this way.
As we mature in healthy ways, we are able to see that we are not the center of the world. We are aware of the impact of our choices on our family and friends. We are able to consider others and the world as a whole when we make decisions. Some of us consider our Soul and God in our decision making. Possessing a healthy developing ego, we are able to be flexible with others socially. We can choose to love.
Please watch this video by Judith Peterson on the value of a working ego:
Food and Love
One of the most frustrating things is to have time to sleep and to lie awake in bed, starring at the ceiling. Look around you if you are in a crowded room – the person on your left sleeps well. The person on your right has trouble sleeping. Sometimes, it is the demands of work, school, or children that keep us from getting enough sleep to feel rested and alert.
Before the electric light was invented in 1879, most people slept 10 hours a night. People in countries free from demands of modern industrialized society, typically sleep 10 hours a night. Americans on average sleep just 6 hours and 24 minutes sleep at night. Successful people sleep 8 hours and 24 minutes a night.
Good sleep energizes the body and enables our brains to think and remember better. Thirty percent of high school and college students fall asleep in class at least once a week. Without enough sleep for long periods of time, we can become physically ill with health problems such as diabetes. Most mental health problems are related to sleep. We can become so deprived of sleep that we do not know what it feels like to be wide awake.
Here are some suggestions to improve sleep:
*Keep a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up
*Don’t drink or eat caffeine (coffee, caffeinated tea, or chocolate)
*Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you are awake in the middle of the night
*Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before going to bed
*Get regular aerobic exercise (not to close to bedtime)
*Minimize noise and light where you sleep (quiet and dark help)
*Keep temperatures moderate-not too hot or cold
*Spend the time 30 to 60 minutes before be relaxing (quiet music, meditation, pray, stretching)
Using simple movements, natural to us as children that we have been taught to suppress as grown-ups, Laura Lund offers us ways to fall asleep and stay asleep. Laura Lund is certified as a Somatic Counselor and Educator with Zapchen Somatics. In this video, Laura Lund demonstrates techniques to help us sleep.