As before, I recommend you purchase your own copy of the book Super Brain by Chopra and Tanzi.
Whenever a cell ages, you age. This is the biological bottom line. … Ironically, even if you do everything wrong in terms of lifestyle—chronically smoking, stuffing your body with fats and sugar, never exercising—the same brain that is implicated in your horrible choices is itself trying to stay immortal. …. In the general population, life span keeps extending in developed countries. Japanese women are the most long-lived on earth. pg. 220
The last two hurdles are probably “lack of exercise” and “obesity.” In other words, as long as people take prevention seriously and make positive lifestyle changes, the physical basis for living a long time is taken care of. ….. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S.—despite advances in treatment, medicine has still not discovered what causes it. …. it takes microscopic wounds or lesions in the smooth lining of a blood vessel to give tiny particles of fatty deposits a place to lodge. pg. 221
At present, longevity presents a confusing picture among genes, risk factors, and drugs, the latter being favored by the pharmaceutical companies. … If anything, the focus on drugs has lessened the public incentive to practice prevention, which has no side effects and proven benefits. pg. 221
We’d like to discuss the most personalized approach to longevity, which is tuning into your body. This requires self-awareness. On one hand, you have a lifetime of likes and dislikes, habits, beliefs, and conditioning. pg. 221 …. On the other hand, you have the wisdom that has evolved in every cell. Anti-aging is a matter of making these two halves mesh. This is a perfect example of survival of the wisest. pg. 222
The Wisdom of Cells – Seven lessons in Longevity. pg. 222 Here are three of them
- Cells share and cooperate. No cell lives in isolation.
- Cells are self-healing.
- The life of the cell demands constant nutrition.
Cells become wise over billions of years of evolution; you can become just as wise by using the gifts of self-awareness, paying attention to how biology has solved some of the deepest issues that you face in everyday life. pg. 222
1. Cells share and cooperate. No Cell lives in isolation. pg. 222
Cells are part of the human community and coexistence is the most natural and healthy way to live. …. Some fascinating research has shown that social connections are mysteriously contagious. … The Framingham Heart Study, which has examined risk factors related to heart attacks for 32 years, social scientists made a startling discovery. Obesity, one of the major risks for heart disease, spreads like a virus. In the social network of family, coworkers, and friends, simply relating to someone with a weight problem makes it more likely that you will have one. “According to the data, if one person became obese the likelihood that his friend would follow suit increased by 57 percent. (This means that the network is far more predictive of obesity than the presence of genes associated with the condition.) pg. 223
Researchers found that the virus like behavior of obesity could also be applied to other risks like smoking or depression. If you have a friend who smokes, the likelihood that you will smoke increases, while having a friend who quits smoking increases your likelihood of making the same positive change. …. The point is that placing yourself in a positive social context is good both physically and mentally. In a way not fully understood, our cells understand what it means to do good. pg. 223
A 2008 Univ. of Michigan study by Sara Konrath examined the longevity of 10K state residents who had participated in a health study going back to 1957. Konrath focused on those who had done volunteer work in the past ten years, and her findings are fascinating. Individuals who volunteered lived longer than non-volunteers. Of the 2,384 non-volunteers, 4.3 percent died between 2004 and 2008, but only 1.6 percent of the altruistic volunteers had died. …. The key word is “altruistic.” People were asked why they volunteered, and not every answer involved altruism. Some of the participants’ motives were more oriented toward others, such as “I feel it is important to help others” or Volunteering is an important activity to the people I know best.” Other respondents, however, had more self-oriented reasons for volunteering, such as “Volunteering is a good escape from my own troubles.” pg. 224
This is just one example among many to support that invisible traits in the mind-body system have physical consequence. Your cells know who you are and what motivates you. The Michigan research was the first to show that what motivates volunteers can have an impact on life expectancy. …. As with everything in life, the path from the first step to the last isn’t a straight line but a zigzag that is different for each person. ….. At the level of the self, survival isn’t usually the issue. The issue is the rewards you receive through bonding and connecting, the basic process that makes for a peaceful society. pgs. 224/225
2. Cells are self-healing. pg. 225
When you are self-aware, you learn how to repair your own damage. This comes naturally to cells, although healing is still one of the most complex and baffling bodily processes. We only know that it exists and that life depends upon it. … When we say that time heals all wounds, we are talking about an automatic process, however painful it may be. Grief runs its course, for example, without anyone knowing how shattered emotions are actually healed. … Most of the time healing is a conscious activity. pg. 225 Self-healing means overcoming the pain and finding a way to become whole again. …. healing is part of the vast feedback loop that holds mind and body together. The more you experience even a moment of trying to heal yourself, the greater your ability grows. The triumph over one’s deepest wounds is a spiritual triumph. …. Through self-awareness, you realize that healing is one of the most powerful forces sustaining your life. pg. 226
3. The life of the cell demands constant nutrition. pg. 226
Cells survive by having complete trust that the universe will support them. … a cell can devote all its time and energy to the things that cause life to move forward: growing, reproducing, healing, and running its own internal machinery. At the same time, cells don’t pick and choose what is good for them. … In our culture excitement, risk, and danger are positive words, while balance, proportion, and moderation feel impossibly dull. We take it as our birthright to experiment with rebellion. So we have every temptation to ignore the benefits of a balanced life, and while we experiment, our cells suffer. …. The important thing is to know what is most nourishing to you personally and put your energies there. ….. When you do that, passion becomes part of balance. …. nourish yourself with the three things that would increase your passion for life. … Leaving specifics aside, your nourishment needs to embrace mind and body. Therefore, your list should include””:
- Your highest vision. – Gives you purpose and meaning.
- Your deepest love. – Love gives you vibrant emotions and lasting passion.
- Your longest reach. – A long reach gives you a challenge that will take years to meet. pg. 227
This is an arc of growing trust, the kind of trust that comes naturally to cells but that gets compromised in our own lives. … A transition come when a new sort of trust—self-reliance—enters. … So it takes constant awareness to keep evolving. The only true nourishment that lasts a lifetime comes from within. … if you trust yourself, there is no such threat. pg. 228
4. Cells are always dynamic—they die if they get stuck. pg. 228
The brain is forced to be the most adaptable, since all operations in the body, however minuscule, are reported back to it. … if you get stuck in a behavior, habit, or belief that refuses to budge, you are hampering your brain. … Results did emerge—a so-called disease personality was marked by emotional repression and a general uptightness. …. Instead of trying to pinpoint the kind of behavior that makes cancer more likely, we can focus on not getting stuck, since we know that brain cells—and all the body’s other cells—are designed to be dynamic, flexible, and constantly alert to change. … as we age, resistance to change grows. … It’s on the personal level that you must confront your stuckness. .. Your cooperation with nature may meet with resistance at first, but if you press on, it’s the easiest way to live and thrive. pg. 230
5. The balance between inner and outer worlds is always maintained. pg. 230
Cells don’t get hung up about their inner world. They aren’t neurotic or anxious about the future. They harbor no regrets (although they certainly do carry the scars of the past—ask the liver of an alcoholic or the stomach lining of a chronic worrier). …. On the inside, these roots allow various messages to get where they are needed. If you experience denial or repression, or the censorship of certain feelings and the eruption of others, or if you feel the tug of addiction and the inflexibility of habits, all those things can be traced to the cell membrane. … Every experience turns into a coded chemical signal that will alter the life of your cells, either in a small way or in a big way, either for a few minutes or for years at a time. …. Trouble arises when a person seals off his inner world and fails to match it to the outer world. …. The inner and outer worlds become imbalanced through all kinds of defensive mechanisms. … The kinds of screens that people put up include the following. The book mentions 7 here are 3 on pg. 231
- Denial—refusing to face how you really feel when things go wrong.
- Repression—growing numb to feelings so that events “out there” can’t hurt you.
- Victimization—denying yourself pleasure because others won’t give it to you, or accepting the burden of pain because you feel you deserve to.
Emotional resilience implies that defensive mechanisms are not very present, because when they are, a person holds on to old hurts, harbors secret resentments, and incorporates stress rather then throwing it off. Your body pays the price for every defense you put up. … Everyone has psychological baggage, and our tendency is either to protect our inner self from more hurt or to ignore our inner life because it’s too messy to face. pg. 232
6. Toxins and disease organisms are immediately spotted and defended against. pg. 233
The immune system’s chief assignment is to separate harmful invaders from harmless ones. …. A vast array of bacterial flora are in your intestines and need to be there (taking an antibiotic will indiscriminately wipe out most of the bacteria in your body and will throw off your digestion for a while, perhaps dramatically), and an equally vast range of biochemicals course through the blood. …. When mainstream medicine ignored the campaign for a more natural diet and against food additives, it did a disservice to the public welfare. pg. 233
A high-fat and sugar-laden diet is already risky. Caution is the best attitude; eating a natural diet makes the best sense. Why not favor the least toxicity in your diet that you can reasonably achieve? …. To date, no study has shown that people who obsessively take large amounts of supplements or who rigorously eat organic food live longer than people who eat a normal balanced diet. Toxin is a scary word, but a balanced approach is better than total purity motivated by fear. …. Over a lifetime, you are what you eat. That is warning enough. …. the bigger problems are the invisible toxins that degrade well-being. They, too, are well publicized: stress, anxiety, depression, domestic violence, and physical and emotional abuse. …. People put up with toxic lifestyles far too much. pg. 234 …. We can spend years putting up with toxins because our minds find reasons not to change. …. It’s good enough to evolve in the right direction. The wisdom that took billions of years to evolve in cells deserves a few years of serious consideration from you. pg. 235
7. Death in an accepted part of the cell’s life cycle. pg. 235
Cells manage something we can only envy and barely understand: they put all their energy into remaining alive, and yet they are not afraid to die. … Human beings have a more unsettled attitude toward dying, but over the past few decades—accelerating after Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s ground breaking 1969 book, On Death and Dying—our social attitudes have become less fearful. … Death is not the equal and opposite of life. It is part of life, which overarches everything. Whatever is born must die. and yet the cosmic scheme, to die is only a transition to another kind of life. …. Coming to terms with dying is so personal that it transcends belief. pg. 236
Dying should be as dynamic as living, and experience that evolves as you enter it for yourself. …. each person must consider the issue of death on his or her own. ….. If you are afraid of death, it is bad for your body, not because death looms so darkly but because fear of any kind is toxic. …. The picture of feedback loops constantly sending messages to your cells is inescapable. …. The vast majority of dying patients have come to terms with it; hospice workers often note that it is the family of the dying person who have the greatest anxiety and suffer from the most stress. … The path to making peace with death might look something like the following: The book lists 10 on pages 237/238 so if you are curious about them read them in your book.
Achieving wisdom is a lifetime project. …. the positive side of aging, which can be grouped under the rubric of maturity. Older people tend to underperform on tests of memory and IQ compared with younger people, but in areas of lifetime experience, they outperform them. …. no single aspect of IQ equates with maturity. You must live a life to acquire it. Why not live that life in accord with evolution, as embodied in your cells. pg. 238