Back in 2013, I was asked by my local chapter of coaches what my background as neuroscientist can provide in terms of practical insights that they could apply to their practices. The question wasn’t surprising but that was the moment that I realised that neuroscience would soon supersede coaching. Nowadays, every coach is keen to grasp how understanding the brain can help him/her become a better coach. Can it? Of course! My training and research work makes a massive difference in how I work with my clients and what we can achieve together. Now let’s take a look at some information that I think you should be aware of.
You inherit more than you would think
Of all the papers I examined across the top journals that year, I came across a particular one that arose my curiosity. This paper was published in the prestigious journal of Nature Neuroscience (which also covered my own research work back in the day, when I was working at the bench at Caltech) reports the work of Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler of Emory University which shows that mice can inherit trans-generational epigenetic effects such as fears. This is significant as the fact that drug addiction and other problems often seem to recur in families has been of interest to scientists and the helping professions for a long time.
To study the phenomena, Brian and Kerry decide to study epigenetic inheritance in mice that they train to fear a specific smell. They achieve this by pairing the smell with an electric shock using classic Pavlovian conditioning. Soon enough the animals learn to associate the shock with the smell so that even when there is no shock, the presence of the specific smell causes them to shudder in fear. Here comes the mysterious bit. Their offspring (baby mice), despite never having learnt about or encountered that specific smell, when presented with it, also shudder. And so, do their offspring. Similar experiments have shown that mothers can also transmit such responses. The researchers suggest that similar mechanisms could be at play when it comes to addiction, anxiety and other conditions not genetically by altering DNA code itself but epigenetically – through DNA modification.
It’s 2017 and I’m in Scotland getting trained by Dr. Lisa Schwarz from the USA who is a leading psychologist and therapist in a technique called Comprehensive Resource Model that she is pioneering. I’ve come for a week to meet her and learn after reading a Newsweek article describing her approach to healing trauma.
Reading it deeply resonated with many elements of my own approach and I’m intrigued. Through demonstrations and tutorials, Lisa explains how clients can remember traumas and issues from gestation and even down their ancestors’ line. I’m not spooked. I’ve been learning and using systemic family constellation work: a powerful therapeutic approach developed by Bert Hellinger in which we integrate the individual into a greater whole – a system – instead of seeing him or her as separate. In doing this we begin to appreciate how individual behaviour has to be understood in context of this larger system with its own rules. When these rules are broken or interfered with, suffering ensues. Training in this model really helps one appreciate just how interconnected we truly are and what this means when energy gets entangled somewhere. Could this entanglement be epigenetic? We do not know. But that is not the point. The point is to help our clients.
Where does this leave us? The work of many leading neuroscientists, psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists confirms what I observe in my practice. The spirit is present and alive in us all. We draw on our ancestry and inherit qualities, traits and personalities. If we come from a line of explorers, we are drawn towards curiosity and adventure. If we come from a tribe of healers, we aim to transform things we come in contact with for the better. And when we alienate ourselves from our spiritual roots we suffer. So, a client of mine who secretly wishes to be an artist but who trained as a medic because his father was a medic, has high stress, high blood pressure and difficulties in his marriage largely because the artistic spirit in him feels and is squashed. Imagine the transformation that ensues when we begin to surface this and find a way to integrate his longing for artistic expression with the brilliance of his mind.
You have free will
This research, developmental genetics and studies of twins raised in different environments show us is that we also have free will. We can choose our destinies and shape what happens in our bodies and our minds with each decision and every belief. We can draw on energy and spirits of our surroundings from animals to inanimate objects, simply as much as our ancestors using the power of belief and sensitivity to something beyond the purely physical realm.
In 2005, following the burgeoning self-help movement, Dr. Bruce H Lipton a cell-biology professor and researcher wrote a book called The Biology of Belief. In it he put forward the idea that the cells of the body are affected by our thoughts through a new science of epigenetics where gene expression is altered without changing the underlying DNA sequence.
There are a lot of positive news in these findings which is why I am telling you about them.
But most important of all, I want you to know that: You are powerful beyond measure.
What you believe can change reality because reality is shaped by the energy of your thoughts and feelings and also the thoughts and feelings of everyone and everything you’re connected to now and in your past.
With this in mind, there is every reason to think that you control what happens in your life far more than you realise.
It’s time to act on it!
If you want more inspiration and abundance of practical help showing you how integration can help you:
- master procrastination,
- connect better with your loved ones,
- help you take decisive steps towards the future you want.
Then you’ve come to the right place. Check out my year-long Da Vinci inner leadership online programme or attend one of my retreats. Let my work help you integrate so you can show up to life more present, centred and constantly resourceful.
With blessings and best wishes,