The hard, healing, integrative work we do on ourselves, first as people, then as parents, it turns out will pay big dividends. I tend to think of the benefits of this work as a kind of “anti-stimulus package.” Our children’s children, and perhaps even their children are slated to be saddled with a crushing burden of debt and diminished services as a result of the current global economic crisis. As a cohort, it looks like they’re going to be poor. And we know from a number of research studies that poverty is not good for brains and other growing things. But by learning how the early, overwhelming experiences in our own personal past impact our actions today, and then taking steps to learn to heal and integrate them, we can begin a process that will beneficially affect generations and generations to come. It’s not quite as George Santayana observed, that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The history repeaters are those who have not addressed and healed their own personal histories. Doing so creates good mental and physical health that will not only benefit us, but will expand out geometrically like an exploding supernova of well-being across time, space and future generations.
Landmarks for Lamarck
Think I’m being a little narcissistically grandiose or delusional? Here’s some interesting research that suggests otherwise: Lamarckian Evolution. Work that has taken this controversial epigenetic theory out of mothballs implies that the effects we parents, coaches, teachers and clergy have on our children’s brain plasticity, connectivity and integration positively or negatively influences generations all the way down the line. In this study, long term potentiation (LTP) which is connected to how we learn and remember things, managed to be transferred epigenetically (environmentally- driven) through several generations of experimental animals without them having any prior exposure or direct knowledge to the things they remembered! Imagine lab rats recalling past lives.
So how do we best benefit our children’s, and our children’s children’s brains through epigenetics? One way is by learning about, and improving our own brain. By doing what it takes to optimize the Nine Integration Pathways I’ve previously written about. A challenge with this, of course, is that it is often very hard work, especially if we come from less than optimal early environments. In order to bring more neural real estate online in our own brains, it can involve revisiting past traumas and working to effectively finish up early unfinished business. Reawakening painful memories retained in Dissociation Capsules in our brains and connecting them back up in an integrated fashion is not work for the timid. It’s painful, time-consuming and currently can be very expensive. But are the alternatives any less painful, time-consuming and inexpensive? We could argue that all the wars we have, all the starvation and poverty in the world, and the economic crises we are currently experiencing, are the result of our great grandparents not knowing how, or not being able to do this work of brain healing and neural integration. For us, however, if we’re reading this column, we no longer have the justification of ignorance.
Each One Preach and Teach One
Beyond professional therapeutic brain healing and integration, there are many things all of us can do to improve our brain function. First of all we can learn about our brains and how they work. Here are some Cool Facts about your brain and mine. I’m convinced that simply knowing a few specific things – for example, that brains are plastic and neuron numbers and connections can change, that they are deeply affected by stress, exercise and our interpersonal relationships, and that anytime I’m angry or upset or depressed, that’s a signal there is brain healing and integration work longing to be done. And that it is our responsibility to do it. Our children or other people don’t make us angry or overwhelmed. For the most part, they simply trigger the places in us where we are most disorganized, where we have the weakest functional capacities. They hold up a mirror to us, inviting healing growth and change, much of it, especially in the moment, mostly unwelcome. Another lovely growth opportunity? Who needs it? We have enough to do just picking up toys, making meals, earning a living and positively disciplining.
But what if we knew that taking on this healing work for ourselves would insure that our children never get cancer, that they’d be smarter than the average monkey, or that they would not be vulnerable to bullying in school or business, or that they would develop exceptional social intelligence? What if we knew at the cellular levels of our being that by doing the hard work of healing ourselves, we were actually, truly, significantly unburdening our children … and their children … and their children? Isn’t this part of the reason we have children in the first place?