Cells have memory. And this cellular memory is durable – even if your conscious mind has forgotten something, your body remembers – down to the cellular level. Research has shown that all experiences, no matter how small, leave physical “footprints” on the body. The intensity of these “leave behinds” is likely proportional to the impact of the actual experience – so as an example, a life-altering traumatic event would have more of an impact than a small family disagreement. Cell memories literally impact everything – the expression of our genes, the physical functioning of the body, and of course our actions, thoughts and emotions. Common sense tells us that those experiences that take place earlier in life would have more of an impact, as they form the base of cellular memory in the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue.” Mental health and other medical professionals often administer the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) questionnaire when patients present with a complex set of symptoms resistant to treatment. And in the world of functional medicine – the medical discipline that focuses on finding root causes instead of treating symptoms – past trauma is a big piece of the patient intake process and a key part of the healing journey.
So what does this mean for each one of us? How can understanding the concept of cellular memory help us lead healthier lives?
To start, it’s important to understand that the cause of a health difficulty, whether physical or emotional, can lie in past trauma. And sometimes, identifying this trauma and processing it effectively makes the difference between maintaining health and experiencing illness. It can be as simple as changing the way one perceives something; according to Dr. Bruce Lipton, cells react to both the actual environment, as well as to the way it is perceived. According to this American biologist and past university professor, many health problems originate with negative beliefs and perceptions in both the subconscious and the conscious mind.
Dr. John Sarno of the NYU School of Medicine also concluded that adult chronic pain, especially back pain, likely originates from unhealed cellular memories. In fact, many researchers like Dr. Lipton and Dr. Sarno, postulate that the subconscious is much more powerful than the conscious. Changing the way one perceives traumatic events is often enough to shift the body from illness into health.
Another important fact is that cellular memory drives behavior. We all have examples of this in our lives. It can be as obvious as someone being afraid to get into a car after a car accident. Or having a fear that others perceive as irrational and baseless. Making new memories and deactivating those that no longer work for us can shift the way we behave in innumerable ways. It can actually make us less angry and reactive. It can increase our sense of love and joy. It can improve mood and give us control over undesirable behaviors.
The last piece of the cellular memory puzzle is epigenetics – the science of gene expression. Researchers have now shown that genes can turn on and off based on lifestyle – food, sleep, stress, mood and many other factors. Cellular memories also have an epigenetic role to play. When they are created, they may express or de-express genes – both good and bad. If the memories are trauma- or fear-based, the gene expression they cause may not serve our best selves. The good news is that processing these negative memories removes their epigenetic effects! We truly have power over our genes!
To wrap up, I encourage each one of you to live in synchronicity with your own heart, and addressing cellular memory is a piece of the puzzle. Explore your past. Hire a professional to help you identify those experiences which may have altered your physiology in negative ways; process these and deactivate them – make them powerless to harm you. Try hypnosis, neurofeedback, EFT or EMDR. Or maybe an energy practice such as Reiki or Healing Touch is what will help. The good news is that we can do things in the physical realm to create an environment in the body that is conducive to healing.
And of course, always address the basics. Eat healthy Wildatarian® food. Get rest. Move. Develop a spiritual practice. Connect with others. So here’s to celebrating the power you have to heal – a healthy heart is a prerequisite to a healthy mind and body.
Photo from here, with thanks.