Beliefs Become Biology

Beliefs Become Biology

If you change, everything will change for you. Beliefs become biology.

This blog considers how our beliefs and other non-genetic factors activate our genes, causing them to behave differently and so change our physiology (1) . What is remarkable is how such changes can then last for multiple generations for better or worse. Consequently, the fact is that the genes we inherit from our mothers and our fathers are not our fate!

Consider that:
• Quantum physics is urging us to change our focus from the material realm and, instead, focus on the dimensions of the unseen realm and so consider a probabilistic and not a deterministic dimension to our lives.

• ‘The brain and nervous system are dynamic structures boiling with change, rewiring themselves second by second on the basis of both internal and external stimuli’(2). Indeed, the brain remains plastic throughout our lives. This and our ability to control the activity of our brains, provides us with a key to changing our lives by changing our thinking; and

• We live in inter relationship with all living things. There is no such thing as a singular idea, or desire, in life because everything is joined to everything else. Therefore, while we may want to be singular, life is so interconnected that whatever we do, say, or even think, provides multiple responses in a connected environment.

These facts are further reinforced when we consider recent genetic science. This has shown that not only are our brains ‘plastic’ and grow, reshape, and change themselves across our lifespan, but so too does the genome. (3)

Epigenetics

The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself is known as epigenetics. Epigenetics explores how our attitudes, behaviour, lifestyle, and choices can influence which genes get turned on or off. In other words, your environment and lifestyle can change your genes! This science further highlights how beliefs become biology.

Epigenetics establishes how genes not only do not control behaviour, but beliefs (expressed in our behaviour) and our environment, influence the responses in our genes. This occurs without affecting our underlying DNA.

We have, in the way genes work, a virtuous circle of complex events that reinforces itself through a feedback loop, as follows:
The external/internal environment activates and influences the gene – affecting the expression of genes – this places the gene in a new external/ internal environment which activates and influences the gene … and so on.

For example, at a purely physical level, the way in which what we eat changes our risk profile to hereditary disease by activating latent genes.

This groundbreaking discovery finds its explanation in the science of quantum physics where all matter is recognised as being essentially comprised of energy. As neurosurgeon, Dr. Jack Kruse wrote:

Energy changes the structural and function of matter. Proteins are a form of matter. Energy sculpts what proteins can and will do and how they will act in a cell. This is called conditions of existence, or epigenetics, today. Darwin told you about both. Of the two, he said conditions of existence were by far more important. Biology has forgotten what he said back then, because for 160 years, no one had a clue how epigenetics worked. Now we do.(5)

Epigenetics is a relatively recent science in which scientists have learned that contrary to establishment belief, genes can and are turned on and off by signals from our external and internal environments, from outside the cell.

Dr. Bruce Lipton, a former medical school professor and cellular research scientist, was one of the first scientists to posit such extra-cellular control.(6) His work has subsequently been validated by other researchers.

But what is a gene and why does epigenetics affect our lives and our world view?

Genes and how they work

Genes have for over half a century easily eclipsed the outside natural world as the primary driving force of evolution in the minds of many evolutionary biologists.(7)

As the above quote highlights, genes have long been associated in evolutionary science as entities whose characteristics lasted through succeeding generations.

So what is a gene?

A gene may be defined as being:

The fundamental physical and functional unit of heredity; It is an individual element of an organism’s genome and determines a trait or characteristic by regulating biochemical structure or metabolic process.(8)

The genome is the entirety of an organism’s hereditary information. Despite early estimates that a human being comprised 200,000 genes, the human genome is now thought to be only comprised of, between 20,000 and 25,000 genes. By contrast a water flea has c. 35,000 genes.(9)

More than a third of the water fleas’ genes are unknown in any other animal and, what is notable for what follows in this chapter, those previously unknown genes are due to the nature of the flea’s environment.’(10)

What the comparison of the number of genes in a human and the number of genes in the water flea highlights is that the number of genes in a human chromosome is insufficient to even provide the code for one complex organ.

So, with such an apparent shortfall in capacity, how does a gene manage? How is it that with a defective gene that leaves an individual susceptible to a cancer, only a very small percentage of people actually succumb to cancer?

Types of genes

In essence there are two types of genes. The first type has what is known as a regulatory protein cover. This may amount to 50% by weight of a gene and, in the past, this cover was discarded by scientists. The second type does not have the regulatory cover.

The second group of genes which might relate to the colour of our eyes for example, will readily find expression through the cellular system. The first group by contrast needs to have the regulatory protein cover removed for the gene to be read by a cell. This happens through environmental signals. These include vibrational signals arising out of the environment, including thought, the frequency of which is aligned to the receptors.

So it is the environment, not the DNA that will control the activity of this protein covered group of genes.

‘Things happen in energy fields before they materialize in the physical domain of our world.’ ‘Future medicine will be based on controlling energy in the body.’ Prof. William Tiller – Stanford University

Analogy – gene and computer

The way the gene works is seen as being analogous to the way a computer works. The gene could be described as the hard drive, or, as Dr. Lipton put it, the gene ‘is the organic equivalent of a computer chip, and the cell’s equivalent of a brain.’ As such genes store and use information within their design capacity. This, to extend the analogy, includes a range of software programs. The gene effectively extends its apparent capacity in terms of the software program accessed as held on the computer chip.

This means that the input, which switches the relevant software program on, is as critical as the hard drive, or, in this example, the gene itself, in achieving the output.

For this reason, until a gene is studied in the context of the energy inputs that it is plugged into, any such study is like trying to explain the design capacity of a computer without plugging it in and studying it through the way it uses software and how those macros (11) in the software work.

If we tried to do that, we would have a very incomplete picture of the real capacity of the computer and its software. For the reality is that the ‘input signals’ that the gene receives provide the activation of different parts of the gene.

Yet in many ways this is just how establishment science has sought to study the gene. The result is that such science, together with its limited findings, is also embedded in popular thinking.

Consider this: the newsletter for the students at the Health Science campus of the University of Southern California proclaims, “Research has shown that 1 in 40 Ashkenazi women have defects in two genes that cause familial breast/ovarian cancer.…”(12)

So embedded is the deterministic medical view that defective genes cause cancer that most of us will nod wisely in agreement with the statement and expect to see cancer in those women.

Yet it is only a partial truth, for the inputs have been isolated from the consideration of the genetic factors.

Those inputs are our internal and external environments. There is a slight acknowledgement of this in some circles of evolutionary science but by and large genes are not seen to be readily adaptive.

Epigenetic mechanisms have been found, in a number of studies, ‘to be a factor in a variety of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In fact only 5% of cancer and cardiovascular patients can attribute their disease directly to heredity.’ (13) (Willett 2002, Silverman 2004)

By contrast, epigenetics has established that the inputs, both the internal and the external environment, are major factors in activating genetic expression and, therefore, of the outcome.

The gene and behaviour

“Future medicine will be based on controlling energy in the body”. (Prof. William Tiller – Stanford University.)

To understand the working of genes we must recognize a ‘first principle’ that is summarised as ‘things happen in energy fields before they materialize in the physical domain of our world.’

We, as humans, occupy an energy field and inhabit a universe made of energy. At an individual level we have seen how the brain operates by sending electrical messages across synapses. We have also seen the way the brain controls all the processes in the body.

We have looked at how every time we feel an emotion or enact a belief, the brain sends chemicals throughout the body that will often give us a physical reaction. Such patterns of behaviour and reaction can become hard wired into the brain.

It is a reasonable extension to recognise that the mental and behavioural release of chemicals not only affects the body as whole, but also parts of the body, including genes. This is exactly what science in the first decade of the twenty-first century has demonstrated.

The well published author, Dawson Church, summarised this discovery as follows:
The energy flows in neurons and genes interact with their every process. Memory, learning, stress, and healing are all affected by classes of genes that are turned on or off in temporal cycles that range from one second to many hours. The environment that activates genes includes both the inner environment—the emotional, biochemical, mental, energetic, and spiritual landscape of the individual—and the outer environment. The outer environment includes the social network and ecological systems in which the individual lives. Food, toxins, social rituals, and sexual cues are examples of outer environmental influences that affect gene expression. Researchers estimate that “approximately 90% of all genes are engaged…in cooperation with signals from the environment.”(14)

Science has long held the view that in those instances where the genes in our body have altered in some way, they can cause illness.

However, until recently this has been a one-way street of causality. The conviction was: The gene has caused illness and affected behaviour. The genes held an immutable blueprint for our behaviour, life and well-being. But epigenetics demonstrates recent findings that it is our beliefs and therefore our behaviour, as reflected in life choices, which help shape our physiological reality.

By changing our thinking and our habitual affective responses, we can change our health.

Epigenetics demonstrates recent findings that it is our beliefs and therefore our behaviour, as reflected in life choices, that will help shape our physiological reality.

There are many examples of how emotional trauma can affect not simply our psychology but also our physiology, leading to disease including cancer.

In one example, an ongoing collaboration between the ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ and ‘Kaiser Permanente’ undertook the ‘adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) study’ which considered the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma, and health and behavioural outcomes later in life.(15)

This ten-year study of over 17,000 adults found a strong correlation between childhood emotional trauma and adult disease, including diabetes, depression, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.

The ACE study has been followed up by the Mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences (MACE) study. This tracks the correlation between the relief of adult stress (and associated childhood trauma) using Energy Psychology techniques, and disease symptoms in adults. The study was still underway at the time of writing.

The ten-year study established the interactions between emotions and gene expression. The MACE study seeks to demonstrate the possibilities of reversing the damage by switching off that part of the affected gene which has been activated.

While genes may predispose individuals to certain disabilities there are many diseases and health issues which we know are not caused by either genes or environment in isolation. These include obesity, cancer, diabetes, allergies, heart disease, osteoporosis, and longevity.(16)

Epigenetics is opening up as a largely unmapped, new and exciting field in gene related science with many large-scale research projects being undertaken around the world.

In one such project, announced in September 2010 TwinsUK, a research group based at King’s College London, and BGI, the Chinese DNA sequencing powerhouse in Shenzhen, launched the Epitwin Project, a study of epigenetic effects in identical twins. This is the largest research project of its kind to date.

In launching it the group stated that: ‘Researchers hope that epigenetics will help to answer questions about the origins of diseases which we know are not caused by either genes or environment in isolation.’(17)

By changing our thinking and our habitual affective responses, we can change our health.

The implication of epigenetics is profound. This is because the idea that genes, in the neurons of our brain, can be activated by input from our emotive centres is radical, and indicates a degree of interconnection and feedback that is at odds with the traditional, linear , cause-and-effect model of genetic causation.(18)

What does this mean for us?

The research into epigenetics demonstrates that in the case of one significant class of genes, our internal environment, as well as our external environment, shapes our biological wellbeing by removing the regulatory protein cover for a gene.

To quote Dr. Bruce Lipton, it can now be shown that we are not ‘a bundle of chemical reactions at the mercy of our own DNA.’

While our genes might control biological expression such as the colour of our eyes, they do not control biological function. In his study of cells and epigenetics, Dr Lipton found that when he took an active cancer cell from a cancer affected body, and put it into a healthy medium, the cell behaved normally.

His work in the field of epigenetics demonstrates consistently the fact that our internal/external environments, including our beliefs, can change outcomes.

Beliefs, literally, become biology.

We are not ‘a bundle of chemical reactions at the mercy of our own DNA.’

Our internal environment is reflective of our emotions, our thinking, and our beliefs. To take control of our internal environment we must consciously take advantage of the dynamic and ongoing changes that occur in our mind.

We need to grow our understanding of what is possible, so that we can now begin to take increasing control over what happens in our lives.

We need to become increasingly self-aware.

Many of our emotions and thought processes occur at an unconscious level and it is only through a process of self-awareness that we can change the effect that these unconscious strata of our minds have on our genes and, more broadly, on our being.

In recent years a new science of neuro-immunology has developed which looks at the relationship between the brain, immune system and emotions and thinking. These processes are not conscious, but to some degree can come under conscious control, or can be mediated through thinking and through behaviour.

This has led various mainstream practitioners to assert that by changing our thinking and our habitual affective responses, we can change our health.(19)To achieve change we do need to be ‘body aware’.

The reality is that, as Dr Daniel Siegel put it, much of what happens in the mind is not within consciousness, yet these non-conscious processes have an impact on our health. Bringing these negative thoughts….. to awareness is part of basic health, because those thoughts—what in my field are called unintegrated neural processes—are basically like black holes. They have so much gravity to them that they suck the energy out of life. ….. They also influence the body itself, including the nervous system and the immune system.(20)

Unfortunately, too often there is a dissonance between our consciously expressed desire or behaviour and the unconscious personal conviction of personal inability or ill health. That unconscious conviction may be shaped or supported by the convictions imprinted on us by culture or other people’s beliefs.

Some years ago, I had a total knee replacement due in part to a squash injury. Some well-meaning people wanted to tell me all about the pain that was associated with such a procedure, but I banned any such discussion and worked on a premise of a strong recovery with minimal pain.

I was up from the hospital bed within hours of the operation (dragging drips and other paraphernalia with me to the bathroom), and discharged within three days. The nurses were stunned, and the surgeon was thrilled. Three months later I was walking through the New Zealand Alps.

This is not a unique story by any means, but the point is that I did not allow my unconscious to be fed by the negativity of third parties and impede recovery. By extension, our own conviction of a third party’s recovery or well-being will help improve or retard their situation.

If you will change, everything will change for you.

Guest Blogger  Dr Brian Gordon, OAM

Access helpful mindful awareness of body, breath, mind, and sensation meditations here …

AL

References:

(1) the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions
(2) Energy Psychology Journal Fighting the Fire: Emotions, Evolution, and the Future of Psychology, retrieved 14 February 2011 from http://energypsychologyjournal.org/?p=63

[3] A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all its genes. Each genome contains all the information needed to build and maintain that organism.

(4) Energy and Epigenetics 6: Quantum Cell Theory, Life as a Collective Phenomena Available at https://www.jackkruse.com/ee-6-quantum-cell-theory-life-collective-phenomena/
(5) Truth about Food and health, ‘New Research Reveals That Thoughts Affect Genes’, retrieved 11 February 2011 from http://www.thetruthaboutfoodandhealth.com/healtharticles/biology-of-belief-bruce-lipton-genes-cell.html
(6) Eldrige, N. 2004 Why we do it, Norton, New York p15
(7) Enotes.com ‘encyclopedia of genetic disorders’ Retrieved 12 February 2011 from http://www.enotes.com/genetic-disorders-encyclopedia/gene
(8) Brown, M., Wired Science, retrieved 12 February 2011 from http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/water-flea-genome/
(9) Brown, M., Wired Science, retrieved 12 February 2011 from http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/water-flea-genome/

(10) a single computer instruction that results in a series of instructions in machine language
(11) Church, D., Genie in your genes, Elite Books, California ,2007
(12) Lipton, B. The Biology of Belief, 2005 Hays House Inc. New York.
(13) Church, D., Genie in your genes, Elite Books, California ,2007
(14) The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, Retrieved 14 February 2011 from http://www.acestudy.org/
(15) Nature.com, Largest-ever epigenetic study launched – September 08, 2010 retrieved 14 February 2011 from http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2010/09/largestever_epigenetic_study_l.html
(16) Ibid
(17) Church, D., Genie in your genes, Elite Books, California ,2007
(18) The Unconscious Mind available at http://www.mind-development.eu/unconscious.html
(19) Daniel J. Siegel professor of clinical psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute

Nostalgia, Harmony and Belief

Nostalgia, Harmony and Belief

What happens when the past takes on an intensity that shapes our present behaviour? A backward-looking life, whether shaped by good or bad experiences, spells trouble, because your thoughts and feelings are the tools that will craft your personal world, both now and in the future.

You can’t drive forward looking in your rear-view mirror.

An anagram for nostalgia is ‘lost again’. Indeed, we can become lost and disconnected from what the future holds for us when nostalgia gains a deep grip on us; and we become lost down a line of time. In this form it can become the precursor to severe depression, distorting reality. Nostalgia is a lens that simplifies many of the complexities of the past; it is not a holistic or integrated perception of the times. Nostalgia is a shallow emotion that can deny, in the present, the necessity for transformative thinking and action.

Whatever our past, we need to learn how to escape nostalgia’s gravitational pull, at least in the space where dark emotions lurk. Failure to do so affects our potential as participants in a greater existence. This being so let me metaphorically illustrate what happens when nostalgia or past hurts and disappointments begin to govern our lives.

This metaphor involves ‘God’. Unfortunately, the one concept in our English language over which wars are fought and communities split is the differing concepts of God. However, the reality is that in every mainstream ‘God-believing’ religion on earth, one of the core attributes of God is that God is an entity that one way or another touches or even permeates our existence.

For the purposes of this metaphor, I ask you for a moment to imagine God as creator of the universe, emitting a vast array of musical frequencies, notes and rhythms of life of which we are the potential receptors if we allow ourselves to tune in.

As babies we can receive and play back the odd note; as we grow older the notes become riffs[1] and melodies and then, growing into adulthood (with all the personal development that is implied), we begin to form a quartet and then an orchestra (although some of us may have more violins and others more drums). So we progressively become better able to resonate with the creative emissions of God and the universe in our lives; but then deep nostalgia or past experiences captures us and we go back in time to when we were just a string quartet or played solo.

In so doing we are reducing our capacity in ‘the now’ to play God’s song for our lives and be the fantastic orchestra we have the potential to be.

Yet, when playing in the full resonant and harmonic way that we are designed to play, our health, spiritual, relational and material prosperity and wellbeing soars.

As an internal condition, nostalgia may at times be a subtle but insidious obstacle to our reflection of the universe’s true harmonic. Another such internal condition lies in the challenges of our past. These challenges may have resulted in a legacy of bitterness or hardship, or poverty, or, more frequently, rejection. For many of us this can mean that we are now cautious about opportunities and relationships that lie in the present. We have all heard the expression ‘once bitten, twice shy’. As we respond to such sentiments we tune out of the musical frequencies of life.

Such emotional flotsam from our past becomes our baggage, a baggage of wounds, hurts, and outdated beliefs. Its legacy needlessly, and often unconsciously, causes us to drift in a metaphorical Sargasso Sea[2] of our own making, wary of repeating the same ‘mistakes’. As a result we increasingly become non participants in the construct of our future.

With a bit of self-reflection we can all recognize how often we allow the baggage of the past, with its pain, rejection, suffering or nostalgic moments, to create chains that hold us to a place, to a person or to a circumstance long since faded from the present. Such baggage reaches out, down through time and into our present world, eating at our dreams, denying our possibilities and binding our future with their legacy.

Back in the 1960s Paul Simon, of Simon and Garfunkel, wrote a song I am a Rock, which reached the charts in their Sounds of Silence album. It expresses the way in which we all can become self-limiting and emotionally insular, as we retreat from past hurts.

‘I’ve built walls,

A fortress deep and mighty,

That none may penetrate.

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.

Its laughter and its loving I disdain.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,

But I’ve heard the words before;

It’s sleeping in my memory.

I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.

If I never loved I never would have cried.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

 I have my books

And my poetry to protect me;

I am shielded in my armor,

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,

I touch no one and no one touches me.

I am a rock,

I am an island’.[3]

But consider for a moment that the world is also filled with successful people who refused to allow the hurts and baggage of their past to impede their future.

People like Oprah Winfrey who overcame a childhood of abuse and molestation to become the world’s first African American billionaire; or Walt Disney who went bankrupt several times before building his successful entertainment empire. People like Thomas Edison, who, when a reporter asked him how it felt to have failed 25,000 times in his effort to create a simple storage battery, replied ‘‘I don’t know why you are calling it a failure. Today I know 25,000 ways not to make a battery.’’ Notably Edison also made over 2,000 attempts at creating a light bulb before perfecting it.

Other examples might include Helen Keller who became the first deaf and blind person to graduate from college and Franklin Roosevelt who contracted polio as a young man and refused to allow his subsequent paraplegia to have an impact on his life, becoming President of the United States of America. In the process, he became a powerful symbol of an individual’s ability to overcome the ravages of one’s past.

History is filled with ordinary people, no different to you or me, who refused to allow their past and outward circumstance to dictate their future.

The baggage of our history and culture affects and shapes our beliefs and thinking. Beliefs are those things you hold to be true that change how you behave and so creates paradigms of our reality. These paradigms can keep us closed and unexpectant, blind to the opportunities of life around us. In a brilliant illustration of what happens when we are blinkered, my favourite poet, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, once wrote:

‘Earth’s crammed with heaven

And every common bush afire with God:

But only he, who sees, takes off his shoes,

The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,

And daub their natural faces unaware’[4]

Most of us tend to be blackberry eaters, missing the fire of God (however defined) all around us, with its generative possibilities for a fulfilled life, as we live in our self-limiting sensate world, leaning into the past, unbelieving that life holds more for us. To see the burning bush in our lives we need to believe that it exists in the first place. Such celestial burning bushes tend to only exist on the periphery of our vision.

We need to enlarge our paradigms. 

Paradigms are based in what we hold to be true; what we hold to be possible. In other words, they are based in our beliefs. We must create paradigms of reality that are bigger than our experience and more than wishful thinking. We need paradigms that allow us to recognise the unseen universe, the nature of being and weaving the realities of the seen and unseen into a practical philosophy of daily living.

Much is made of the Law of Attraction and its alleged premise that thoughts manifest, or make tangible, a new reality (health, wealth, prosperity, opportunity etc.). This is a casual, if not sloppy, wording. Thoughts do not manifest so much as ‘beliefs’ manifest. Beliefs are those things you hold to be true that change how you behave. Thoughts are mental processes. Dominant beliefs manifest, or make tangible, a changed reality. The belief that because you have been hurt once you will be hurt again will preclude you from opportunity. A belief that life was so much better ‘way back then’ leaves you locked up in a past that can blind you to the present.

But a belief that you can move mountains, shape your destiny, unlock riches, achieve new heights whether creative, spiritual, relational or temporal, such a belief will change your future and take you into a new dimension. Such a belief, as will be demonstrated, calls down the intervention of forces in your life that are greater than you; forces that are drawn, or are attracted, by your belief as it signals to the universe.

‘What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve’, (Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich).

Belief gives an emotional quality to our thoughts, and that emotional quality has much more power for change than our thoughts alone. This is so because such belief will also encourage you to take the steps you know are necessary in your life to realise your dreams.

Beliefs are broader than material facts.

Beliefs give us confidence where the presenting ‘facts’ might lead us to doubt. It’s been said that if you want to attain your dreams, work with ideas, not facts. Dwell upon the end result, not the ‘hows’ of it. Do not worry about the logistics, the people or the money you need to make the result happen; but think of the end result you dream of. The ‘facts’ of apparent difficulties and lack of resources will be overcome by the creational storehouse of the universe.

Our subsequent actions, which actualise our new life, are the tip of an iceberg, the hidden base of which is formed by our beliefs, and between the two are our values layered with thoughts and emotions.

Beliefs form the foundation and bedrock of our being.

Change your beliefs – and you will change your life.

Do not be afraid to recognise your ability. Move past nostalgia, or saudade, rejection, bitterness and fear and become the destiny that is yours.

Guest Blogger: Dr Brian Gordon, OAM

[1] short, often repeated series of notes in pop music or jazz

[2] The Sargasso Sea is famous in mythology for its images of fleets of derelict sailing ships, crewed by bleached white skeletons, and trapped in dense mats of clinging seaweed.(http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2000/05/11/125857.htm?site=science/greatmomentsinscience)

[3] Lyricsfreak Retrieved 17 July 2008 from http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/simon+and+garfunkel/i+am+a+rock_20124809.html

[4] Browning, E.B. 1856 The Complete Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning Thomas Crowell and Company New York p134

Health and Well-Being meditations here

 

 

What is a Paradigm?

What is a Paradigm?

A  paradigm is the thinking that serves as a pattern or model. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.These assumptions are often not consciously held and so we tend not to challenge them.

How can we challenge what we are not aware of?

If we construct our view of reality through our paradigms, then it follows that if we can change our paradigms, we change our reality.

The following true story is a classic tale of a paradigm (reality) changing experience by a naval officer, Frank Koch, which appeared in an issue of Proceedings, the magazine of the United States Naval Institute (1)

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on manoeuvres in heavy weather for several days. Koch was serving on the lead battleship and was standing watch on the bridge as night fell. He recounts his experience.
The visibility was extremely poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on our navigation activities. Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, ‘Light bearing on the starboard bow!’
The captain called out, ‘is it steady or moving astern?’
The lookout replied, ‘steady captain’, which meant that we were on a collision course with that source of light.
The captain then called to the signalman, ‘Signal that ship: We are on a collision course … advise you change course 20 degrees.’
Back came the signal from the other ship. ‘Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees’. The captain barked, ‘Send, I am a captain … change course 20 degrees immediately.’
‘I am a seaman second class,’ came the reply. ‘You had better change course 20 degrees’.
By this time, the captain was furious. He spat out, ‘Send, I am a battleship! Change course 20 degrees.’
Back came the signal from the flashing light …’I am a lighthouse’.
We changed course.

Because paradigms are based in what we hold to be true, they dictate what we hold to be possible.

In other words, they reflect our beliefs. Our beliefs can also be shaped by others who might cling to their paradigms even in the face of reason, and so limit our understanding of ‘reality’.

For example. For centuries mankind’s understanding of astronomy was based in what is known as Ptolemaic astronomy which portrayed a cosmos with the earth stationary at its centre and the stars, sun, and planets rotating around it. Then along came Copernicus in 1543 who strongly argued that far from being immobile, the earth and the other planets moved around the sun.

This was such an affront to the generally held paradigm that when Galileo began to promote this idea the Inquisition forced him to recant or be convicted of heresy.

Paradigms reflect our beliefs, and no-one likes having their beliefs challenged, not least the establishment …

We construct belief systems based on an incomplete view of the world then surround those cherished systems with high walls to guard against the intrusion of new evidence.

In a complex world, forming theories to guide and orient oneself is essential to narrow down the overwhelming task of decision making. But we face a problem in the fortification we erect around those systems. Dogmas are created, elevated to truths and defended, sometimes to the death as superior to new insights into reality. (Erdmann and Stover, 1993:60)

Guest Blogger, Dr Brian Gordon

*Regular mindful meditation increases awareness, helping to give insight to imbedded paradigms. AL