Sunday, January 23, 2011

biology, mediation, family constellations, it is all the same...kind of...

Once I was at the lovely Yasuragi Spa to attend a workshop with Caroline Myss. I also tried mediation in a Japanese zen style. The teacher, a very cute feminine man, talked about how meditation has aided him to become “more of who he really was”. “I am a funnel” he said. “I am a funnel of the experiences of my earlier generations, my parents experiences have imprinted me and my view of the world. But what they brought on to me was really their life experiences through their own imprinting from their own parents, who in their turned are affected by their parents…”. On and on it went, and I realized that in one way we can travel back to the monkeys and beyond that. This way of thinking is the basis of a therapeutic form called family constellations that I will try in February –and probably write about here.

In one way, this is true in the sense of biology. We are an accumulation of events that have shaped the DNA molecule, and we are also accumulation of the surviving versions of it.
DNA is the information carrier of life- In one way of looking at it, life has been created to sustain and carry on this molecule. This is the basis of the Selfish Gene, a book that I will probably write about later, I have met it’s author who is famous for his “antireligion” views.

To me it is like we are a melody with various themes in it. The DNA that we are carrying is inherited half from our mother and from our father is one tone. It is the recipe for our biological body. The stuff that builds up our body are in constant exchange with the environment, thus our body is in constant change. The DNA directs where the molecules should be organized and when. It has done so for millions of years, going back to the primordial soup.
DNA is an information arrow that was shot out of the primordial to travel through time, trough the bodies of living things. Thus, in one way, we are also a form that have temporarily risen from the context of life and will fall back into it. If we get children we will be a part of the passing of the arrow in time and space.
So the DNA sequence is one theme of who we are biologically, that connect us with the history of life on this planet and the future ones.

Another theme is known as epigenetics. When Scottish scientists cloned Dolly more than ten years ago, they proved one thing. Every cell in the body contain the same DNA. It has not been changed. In theory, DNA could be altered, deleted etc, in order to create a skin cell and brain cell. They obviously do not look the same or behave in the same way. If you scratch yourself on the nose, you get new skin. You do not get a new nose or a new you. Yet if we take a cell from your nose we get the information to make a whole new version of your body. So why does a skin cell look different to a brain cell if they have the same DNA sequence, and why do I mention this in relation to my Japanese zen mediation teacher’s funnel?

Different cells look and behave different because they are using different genes. Obviously the skin cell does not need to use recipes/coding genes for proteins used in a brain cell and the other way around. The DNA is chemically altered so that the cell will discriminate between the genes it should use and the genes it should not. This is epigenetics.
This is also how the environmental changes in the present alter the use of DNA. It is not static; it is in constant interaction with the surroundings.

But scientists have shown that some epigenetical changes, i.e. altered indications of which genes should be used and should not be used can be inherited through the germ line. This was first indicated in a study that showed that indivudals with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity had grandparents that had survived famine. What you eat might affect your grandchildren.

Thus, epigenetics can be a part of the organic life that travels through time. We are a funnel, we are a part of our earlier generations and later generations will be a part of us. It is a way that were are connected with all life on this planet right now, but also in a timeless sense.
But this is just one way of looking at it, I will write a later posting about how we are constant change, from a view of biology. Like Buddha said, charvatti, all is change and change is connectedness with all. 

Personally I love epigenetics, it is one my favorite areas in molecular biology.

However, I think next posting will be about the moon and her moon, life would never have evolved on this planet. She deserves to be a goddess in old creation myths cause they depict the truth.

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