Everything changes, nothing remains without change; says Buddha
The only thing that never changes is change. Only change is constant, otherwise everything is changing; says Osho.
Change is necessary for existence, and people have realized this in various ways through the ages. The essence of most ancient myths describes the constant death and rebirth that takes place in every level of existence.
Scientists today can show that is true on the physiological level, molecular level, chemical level and physical level etc and this posting will focus on the physiological level. I plan to extend the parallells of science and "conciousness techniques", and write about constant change on the other levels as well.
You might have heard people say that the body is new every seventh year. This is an approximation of the truth. Cells die and are being replaced at every moment in your body, but different organs are reconstituted on the cellular level at different speed. When I realized this, I also realized that my mediation teachers were absolutely right when they said “experience the body as if it was for the first time”. Because it is for the first time you experience this body with this composition of chemicals, virions, bacterias and cells that builds up you contemporary body.
When you eat, the food is meshed up and then passed through the intestine in order for the body to soak up nutrition and minerals/chemicals. The inside of the intestine consist of hair-like structures that are called lumina, the depths between the hairs are referred to as crypts or even the crypt of the Lieberkuhn. These hair structures are covered by an epithelial cell layer.
So why am I mentioning this?
This image is from a histology book and shows the hairlike structures and the crypts from the inside of the intestine. the pinkish outer layer are the epithelial cells.
This is the best studied area in the body when it comes to rapid and continuous renewal of cells i.e. physiological change. Stem cells reside in the bottom of these crypts, making the depths the birth place of the new cells, thus driving this renewal.
What is a stem cell? That question requires a whole book. But as a theory; a stem cell is a so called pluripotent cell, it has the capacity and the potential to turn into any type of cell. Classical example; the first cells that appear after the fusion between the sperm and the egg. If you take away one of these cells, they can later be inserted into a womb and develop into an indivudal. This is the science behind in vitro fertilization. Another type of stem cells remain within every organ and is responsible for renewing the tissues. A third type is the so called cancer stem cells.
The stem cell in this case is organ specific, it resides within the tissue it is suppose to reconstitue. It is the mother cell, she divides into daughter cells that are just a bit more specified than herself. These daughter can then give rise to various groups of cells. For example, one daughter cell divides and differentiate into epithelial cells, as part of the constant renewal of the epithelial cell layer that cover the intestine. The cells are pushed upward from the crypt along the hairs by the dividing cells. The cells on the top of the hairs die, let go and are replaced. The journey of a cell from the bottom of the crypt to the top takes approximately 3 weeks.
If the balance between death and birth, i.e. the constant change is somehow disrupted, one might develop colon cancer.
For a more in depth description of this intricate change and how it is biological controlled please have a look at; mhttp://www.pnas.org/content/98/22/12334.full and
for good research by Bjernes and his coworkers.
Despite what we might think, we are never experiencing the same body. Our bodies are in constant change. This include the brain, the physiology that somehow keeps our ideas and our persona. We tend to think that this part is static but it is also in constant change. I will go deeper into this in a later posting.