When we meet someone who is beautiful and smart we joke, “they hit the genetic lottery.” We’ve been conditioned to believe that our genes are determined at birth and cannot be changed.
But what if I told you that there have been scientific breakthroughs that suggest you can control your genetic destiny. Recent studies show your genes are dynamic—everything you think and do impacts your gene activity.
Deepak Chopra’s new book Super Genes raises the bar for the way we think about genetics, explaining how to optimize your genes to create positive change in your life. In a recent interview with Deepak I learned how to apply these principles to make better lifestyle choices and find deeper fulfillment.
Reading his book made me realize the untapped potential that lies within all of us, providing amazing possibilities for a different future. One example that strongly stood out was the amazing story about Saskia, a woman in her late 40s suffering from advanced breast cancer:
In her most recent battle against the disease, Saskia bypassed chemotherapy in favor of immunotherapy, which aims at increasing the body’s own immune response. She also decided to spend a week learning how to take care of herself through meditation, yoga, massage, and other complementary therapies. (The program she attended was given at the Chopra Center. We mention this in the spirit of full disclosure, not to take credit for what occurred next.)
Saskia enjoyed the week and came away with a feeling that she could relate to her body in a better way. She appreciated how well she was treated, pointing in particular to the loving attitude of the massage therapists. At the end of the week she reported that her bone pain had gone away, and she went home feeling much better, emotionally and physically. She recently sent a follow-up e-mail describing what happened next.
The day after I got home, I had another PET/CT scan. This one was four months after the last. The following week I met with my oncologist. Though I was expecting the worst, I had decided that no matter how bad my scan looked, I felt a lot better, and that’s what counted. But instead of bad news, he told me that he had never seen such a response in such a short time, and especially without the use of chemo drugs…He was very surprised and is much more interested now in what I’m doing! I told him about what I learned at the Chopra Center (especially meditation, yoga, and massages), the dietary changes I’d made, and how supportive my husband has been in these last few months. I believe that all these things were working together to make healing possible. Basically all the many metastases to my lymph nodes are gone, as well as the metastases to my liver; more than half of the mets to my bones have disappeared. The remaining bone mets have all diminished greatly in size. There’s one new lymph node met on the left side of my neck, but the doctor believes it’s insignificant in light of the vast improvements everywhere else. He told me to just keep doing whatever I’m doing.
There are two attitudes to take to this story. One is the standard medical response, which amounts to dismissal.
Faced with Saskia’s experience, most oncologists would consider it merely another piece of anecdotal evidence that has little bearing on the overall statistics relating to cancer treatment and survival. Cancer is a numbers game. What happens to thousands of patients tells the tale, not what happens to one patient. The other attitude to Saskia’s experience is to explore how changes in her situation led to such a remarkable result. Let’s list all the changes she experienced that might influence gene expression:
Improved attitude toward her disorder
Decreased bone pain
Emotional support from her husband
New knowledge about the mind-body connection
New lifestyle choices added to her daily routine: meditation, yoga, massage
Benefits from therapeutic massage and other treatments at the center
The list looks quite diverse, and only one or two items on it would be found under current standard cancer treatments. But there’s a common thread to every item. New messages were sent to and from her brain and her genes. If medicine could decode these messages, we’d get much closer to solving the mystery of healing. It can be hard for any physician who is in the business of curing his patients to admit that the only true healer is the body itself. And how the body pushes atoms and molecules around to achieve healing—or not—remains a deep mystery.
What will happen to Saskia in the coming months and years is unpredictable. We are not promoting miracle cures in any way, shape, or form. We know full well that miracle isn’t a useful term for understanding how the body operates. If you could listen in on the stream of messages received at the genetic level over the course of a single day, in all likelihood you’d hear the following:
Keep doing what you’re doing.
Reject or ignore change.
Keep problems away from me. I don’t want to know about them.
Make my life pleasant.
Avoid difficulties and pain.
You take care of it. I don’t want to.
You aren’t aware that this is what you are telling your genes, over and over, because you don’t put these messages into words like a telegram. But your intention is clear, and cells respond to what you want and do, not what you say. Each of us is incredibly fortunate that our bodies can run automatically with almost total perfection for decades at a time. But unless we participate in our own well-being, sending conscious messages to our genes, running on automatic isn’t good enough. Radical well-being requires conscious choices. When you make the right choices, your genes will cooperate with whatever you want.
This is the new story we want you to follow, and to turn into your own story. When you use your genes for transformation, they become super genes.
Excerpt from Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being by Deepak Chopra © 2015 Harmony Publishing.