There are a few things on my mind of late... and if I look at them they can all fall under the Nature vs Nurture debate (one of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology!). Is our development predisposed in our DNA or is the majority of it influenced by this life experience?
I’m sure, as with most things, it is never black and white, but a combination of the two. There are a number of things that have struck with me:
A recent study includes brain scans that show the real impact a mother’s love (or neglect) has on a child in its first two years of life. Basically in this time frame a healthy child would be strengthening the neuronal pathways that help him/her to learn how to get their needs met, both physically and emotionally. But if a child is not treated properly in the first two years of life, it can have a fundamental impact on development – science has shown that the genes for several aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot function. When you start to see the science, this sheds so much light on why cycles get repeated - parents who, because their parents neglected them, do not have fully developed brains, neglect their own children in a similar way. It is all they know and this is incredibly sad.
Scientists have also found that memories may be passed down through generations in our DNA – so any learned information about stressful/traumatic events (think of the world wars for instance) – showing how the experiences of a parent (before even thinking about conceiving children!) has a huge impact. Again, this makes me see how difficult it can be to get out of stuck patterns, without evening understanding or seeing that they have come down the family line for generations.
We’ve all got stuck patterns and will all have some great blind spots that need to be unearthed! If you resonate very strongly with the two studies mentioned above the good news is you are not at the mercy of your genetic code. It is possible to change your DNA. And for those sceptics out there, according to the science of epigenetics (the study of how environmental factors outside of DNA influence changes in gene expression), stem cells and even DNA can be altered through magnetic fields, heart coherence, positive mental states and intention. Top scientists around the world agree: genetic determinism is a flawed theory.
I find myself spending way too much time on the computer these days is the conclusion I came too whilst walking my dog yesterday.
What made me come to this realisation? Well, it was the messages that my body gave me whilst I was walking through the rainy woods. I felt my shoulders shake off tension, my lungs really needed to take deep breaths and my whole system sighed with relief at being surrounded by nature.
With all the juggling that we do in our lives between work, emails, family, home, hobbies, social media (the list seems endless sometimes), we can forget the basic and simple needs of our bodies. We need space to breath. We need space to just be.
I am incredibly blessed, as I live in the middle of the country, and I know how to listen to my body. It is very easy however for us to get caught up in the latest project/drama/urgent task and forget to check in with ourselves. Too easy, in fact!
It is ironic too as even just taking 10 minutes per day to meditate, breath, just be with how we are with no distractions, will make us more focussed and productive. I imagine if there were research studies conducted, they would probably show that a 10 minute investment would give us 30 minutes back! At least!
So, on this autumnal Wednesday, I urge you to take 10 minutes for yourself today. Maybe you can go and walk in the trees and make a conscious effort to empty your mind and breath in the beauty around you. Maybe you can sit somewhere quietly and close your eyes, taking time to listen to the stories of your body (not your mind - that usually has way too much head space!) and just being with the simple inhalation and exhalation of yourself. It sounds simple, yet has a profound impact.
Sometimes, you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.....