Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Biology of Beliefs

I'm in Lake Tahoe, where John Goodman
stole my phone for a bit.
I get a fair amount of book, movie, and video suggestions. One that caught my eye recently was the documentary on youtube, The Biology of Beliefs (on youtube) with Bruce Lipton.

After a detailed and well-illustrated delving into cell biology, he shows how at some point genes get activated by their environment. He then moves to, but does not show, how the content of that environment must be comprised of one's perceptions or beliefs. The specific factors he mentioned that create a bad environment for cells were lack of love, and stress.

I transcribed this from near the end of the film:
Beliefs act as a filter between the real environment and your biology...If your beliefs are off, you're going to select genes and that are inappropriate for the environment...Here's the beautiful part: we can remove the filters that interfere with our lives. 
I thought the explanations of cell biology were excellent, and I also liked the emphasis on the power of the mind. His angle on it is very positive: you can change your perspective and thereby change your cell environment. The implication though that THE cause of disease is attitude bothers me. I don't doubt that some diseases are caused, and cured, to some degree by the mind. I don't doubt that there are diseases caused to some degree, and cured, by nutrition, physical activity, and medicine, or lack of them. Other factors I can think of right now: environmental toxins, genes.  

Recently, sinus issues
I don't think the guy is trying to blame people for getting sick, but rather to be more aware of the effect of the mind. However, the implication is there, and it yanks my chain. Surely one's beliefs cannot be the sole cause of disease. 

Here's a cool study from U Mass about changes in the brain that result from MBSR courses: Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain

Excellent movie: Come Hell or High Water, a visually stunning documentary about body surfing (saw it on a big screen at the Patagonia store last weekend.)

Excellent lecture series: The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins. Where else can you find out the difference between ask, question and interrogate?

Amazing novel that Kathy gave me: Still Alice by Lisa Genova. (Especially if you know anyone with Alzheimers.)

I had a hard time finishing this post because of finding it kind of boring. Hopefully you didn't. 


  1. Hey, did you really pay that much money to listen to the lecture you recommend at the end?! Comes up as hundreds of $... x

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  3. Gabor Mate deals nicely with the shame/blame dynamic around health in the intro to When the Body Says No. I have the book if you want to borrow it when I'm done (though it sounds like you have plenty to read!). His early disclaimers made a big difference as I read his accounts of the impact emotional states & behavior on health. It's a hard read, but worthwhile.

  4. You are my lovely friend who is dealing with some icky encrustations that mean botheration more and less at different times. I am awfully biased about you--I think you deserve every good thing you've ever gotten and even more, looking into 'the future'. I try not to project abstractions like 'this will happen when I'm 70' or something, but it's hard. With me, with others, with things. It's a habit. I seem to be putting quotation marks around so many of my ideas. Sometimes it helps.

    I have the same concern about this blame business. Awfully convenient, ain't it? So a pox on all "the"s: the cause, the cure, the belief, the-anything! A big fat contributor to Delusion. I like the little word 'a'. Short, sweet, truthful. That said, I agree that taking away barriers and unhelpful conditions, replacing/entertaining/supporting positive conditions and influences is a good thing. Happens to be our practice, too!

    I had a moment of 'what's wrong with me that I go on vacation and then get sick the whole time?' moment last week, and it was reinforced by something someone wrote on facebook. Had to pick up that nasty little poisonous mind-centipede and take it right outside. Conditions and things arising, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.....