Examining the environments we inhabit and our perceptions of them
Most people only think of the processes going on in your body when it comes to health. If you’ve been reading this newsletter for any length of time, you know that health takes shape at the levels of heart and mind before we see it manifest in the body. There’s another factor that greatly influences our quality of health, but we tend to miss it as we focus all our energies on getting our physical and our emotional/spiritual house in order. I’m speaking of the environment in which we live and manage our lives. Ironically, in order to answer the question of how something outside the body is important to health, we have to first look inside the body. As within, so without.
After an egg is fertilized and embryo development begins, the first tissue to form is the ectoderm. The word comes from the Greek ektos, which means “outside” and derma, meaning “skin”. The ectoderm, or outermost layer of the embryo, gives rise to both the epidermis (your outermost layer of skin) and the brain. Think about that connection. The skin and brain are made from the same material. Perhaps our skin behaves more like a brain than we think. Indeed, it does.
“It’s our perception of the environments we inhabit that are driving our cells in a positive or negative direction.” – Dr. Habib Sadeghi
It was long thought that the brain of the cell was the nucleus; it was at the center, contained the DNA and called all the shots. This idea was turned upside down with the work of one of my former teachers, cell biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton, who I started studying with in 1991. I still follow his work today and have incorporated some of his theories, along with other renowned researchers, into my protocol for Integrative Psycho-Synthesis (iPs). Dr. Lipton’s research revealed that cells continue to live and function normally for up to two months after having the nucleus (including the DNA) removed. His research showed that it was the membrane or “skin” of the cell that functioned as the brain. This skin is the best organ to monitor what’s going on inside, as well as outside, the cell and to make any necessary adjustments. The membrane is covered with thousands of tiny receptor-like antennae that are waiting for signals from the environment. Is there a virus nearby and does the cell need to protect itself? Is there nourishment in the vicinity and does the cell need to rebuild? The membrane reads the signal from the environment and transmits the message through a receptor to a protein inside the cell, which executes the desired function. It’s the skin of the cell that drives cellular behavior. The nucleus is the storehouse of the cell. As the cell’s various parts wear out over time, the raw material to replace them is found in the nucleus. This is why the nucleus is now viewed more as the gonad or reproductive center of the cell and not as the brain, because it carries the blueprints to make new parts (genes) when they wear out.
What does this mean for you? A cell is a microcosm of the human body. It contains a brain and all the necessary organelles to carry out respiration, digestion, assimilation, elimination, reproduction and so on. A human being is about 1 trillion cells, each functioning with a mem-“brain” and therefore the body and its skin function exactly the same way. Through awareness of your environment via the receptors built into your skin (the five senses) and your physical reaction to it, you send signals to your cells that pick up the message on their receptors and unlock proteins inside that dictate cell function. Interestingly, the word perception is defined as: awareness of elements of the environment through physical sensation.
It’s our perception of the environments we inhabit that are driving our cells in a positive or negative direction. How do you perceive your environment at work, home, in your relationship, the country you live in, and the state of the world? Do you hate your job or fear that the world is on a collision course with financial and ecological disaster? You inhabit many environments. How do you perceive them? Negative perceptions of our environment throw us (and our cells) into varying degrees of the fight-or-flight response. If you were being chased by a tiger, would you feel like stopping for a turkey sandwich during your escape? Of course not. When our cells are in protection mode, all nourishment and rebuilding stops. By perceiving our environment in a negative way, we’re telling our cells we’re in danger and healing is put on hold.
“If your health isn’t where you’d like it to be, consider examining the environments you inhabit and your perceptions of them.” – Dr. Habib Sadeghi
Like the nucleus, the human brain is important, but it’s not the true driving force dictating how our bodies function, rebuild and ultimately manifest themselves. The skin and its senses have just as much processing power as the brain, but in a very different and important way. Remember they both come from the ectoderm. They’re both processing machines. One is for analytical information and the other for emotional or sensorial input.
Dr. Lipton also discovered that when stem cells are placed in a different environment, their function changes to match the new environment. If your health isn’t where you’d like it to be, consider examining the environments you inhabit and your perceptions of them. Do they feed your soul and make you feel great? Are they fun or uplifting? These are Yes/No questions. A “kind of” response is a No. Change the environments you inhabit to better serve you, and your body will take on the positive energy created through the perception of your new surroundings.
A patient was recently referred to me who was suffering from spasmodic dysphonia, an involuntary spasm of the muscles in the larynx. She’d been getting Botox injections to paralyze her vocal cord muscles for some time, but when side effects set in, she came to my office. I soon discovered that my 60-year-old patient had worked for 35 years as an executive assistant in an environment where she was dismissed and disrespected. She felt her voice and opinion weren’t welcome at work and now vocal dysfunction was manifesting in her body. As I encouraged her to share with me what she couldn’t verbalize at work, her perception of herself, her power and work environment changed. When that happened, her healing started.
For larger environments, like the state of the world, we may not be able to switch planets, but we can certainly change our perception of why certain things are happening and how we see them panning out. Of course, there are those who will say you’re crazy for thinking you can change your life or health just by changing your environment but as we saw last month, there’s much to be gained by marching to the beat of your own drummer. Only you get to decide how you perceive something. In fact, after all his world renowned research, Albert Einstein said, “I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.”
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Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.