Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to Live a Long Life

This is from the January 2010 Jocson Health Newsletter. I thought it appropriate to post it here on the blog. Enjoy!

Recently I watched a video about what is called the Blue Zone project where investigators studied the lives of specific geographical areas in the world where there existed significant amount of individuals who lived well into their nineties and hundreds. It was a project to find out what we can learn from some of the oldest living people on Earth regarding health and longevity. What I found fascinating was that out of all the distinguishing characteristics that all of these communities had in common, diet/nutrition and exercise were not the biggest contributors (although still very important in their lives). What was the most significant is the community that all of the Blue Zones pro-actively created to be a part of. It was the interconnection with others that was the most common trait. Right relationship with others and their selves contributes greatly to health and longevity. Where the average adult only has, at best, maybe three “best friends” throughout their lives, in these communities it was more like nine or so.

We, as Humans, were never meant to be alone. Even physically, on a cellular level, science is discovering we are not alone with the billions & trillions of microbes that have a symbiotic relationship within us. Each and every one us contains a right relationship with a bunch of bacteria within us and when that relationship is trying to find a balance, we experience physical symptoms. From the old thinking we were conditioned to believe that microbes are bad and the whole “anti-bacterial” mind-set took off where the spread of antibiotic use were used to “kill off the enemies”. The interesting thing is that now microbiologists are beginning to realize that cases such as “bacterial infections” can be viewed more as the difference between an argument and having a civil conversation amongst our cells. Isn’t this true the way it is in society when we are presented with so-called “national security threats” we opt more to kill first and ask questions later? Our biology is revealing otherwise. In fact, one can argue that there really in no such thing as “good” bacteria or “bad” bacteria but just an innate desire for the microbes and our cells to find right relationship and live in symbiosis. If you study the evolution of the Human cell, you’ll find that we began as microbes that basically had a desire to expand our consciousness and created our own technologies to do so. From single-cells to multiple colonies to tissues to organs to a whole body, we evolved to what we call our physical self and it all consisted of a lot of “teamwork”. There is no real isolation anywhere in our biology. We are made to “come-in-unity”. From one cell to fifty trillion cells, it is part of our nature to create right relationships.

Think of moments in your life where you isolated or separated your self from others for whatever reasons or for whatever fears you may have had at the time rather than trying to find unity through understanding and meaning on superficial and deep levels of the experience. An image for me comes to mind of the “gated communities” that exist to deter the unwanted elements of society; or how some parents teach their children they don’t want them to associate with certain kids because they may be “bad” influences. We tend to separate ourselves from what we fear and do not understand as a way to protect ourselves and this commonly results in a never-ending battle throughout life. We make life a battle. If we didn’t, the warrior archetype would not exist. The mythology of the warrior is that one does not become a true warrior until one knows when to lay down their sword and offer themselves completely to their Higher Self. In other words, we struggle with our lower animal selves so as to find our Higher Divine Selves and learn to live in right relationship with each other.

In neuroscience, the hot topic is the discovery of mirror neurons. When we move, motor programs are triggered in the brain that allow for this action. When we observe others performing the same movement, a subset of the motor programs called mirror neurons are activated as if we were performing the movement as well. Have you ever wondered why is it that when someone else yawns, others in the room end up yawning as well, regardless if they are physically tired or not? The answer is mirror neurons. There have been studies where a person’s arm has been anesthetized and upon observing actions such as poking or pinching in someone else’s arm were able to feel the same or similar sensations despite the anesthesia’s effects on their arm. This is evidence that there is a non-physical subtle connection between people and that the physical separation we experience is more of a delusion. If you’re a male, have you ever observed another male getting hit in the groin and not be able to empathize with him? This is science’s discovery of a biological understanding of empathy and compassion.

In the science of genetics there is a new area called epigenetics that studies what are called epigenes. Epigenes are the switches on our genes that can either turn on or off the genes depending on our environmental influences. This means that we no longer have to attach to the old belief that we are prisoners of our biology and that Darwinian-thought is partially true (“survival of the fittest”) and that Lamarckian-thought (“environment affects genes”) needs to be embraced and explored with open arms. The environment we choose to live in affects our biology and thus our health and longevity. These findings also include our thoughts where what we think becomes our biology. If we live in an environment of fear, fear is what we become. The added stress of fear can trigger some of our genes that make us more prone for certain cancers or other health conditions. It’s so true what they say that “show me who you’re friends are and the people you surround yourself with and I’ll know what type of person you are”.

And if these sciences weren’t enough, even math is getting in on the action. Fractal geometry reveals something that is called “self similars” where a piece, or fractal, of a whole can be used to create newer and complex patterns that are a reflection of the original object. Everything in nature can be broken up into fractals. You can take a simple shape like an equilateral triangle and take a piece of it and place it into a more complex pattern and create a snowflake. This is a science of patterns where you can begin to recognize from complex patterns, the simpler similar components that make them up. And because humans are a part of Nature, we are no exceptions to the fractal nature of our existence. Each of us can be perceived as one piece of this complex pattern called life on a grander scale the same way one of our cells is a part of the greater body. Every individual in our lives are there by no coincidence and contribute to the complexity of our “pattern”. We ultimately have the choice to choose what kind of pattern we want to live in. We can live in drama or we can live in harmony. We can live running away and self-sabotaging or we can live with meaning and purpose. Every person we are in contact with is a reflection of aspects within us. How cool is this? If we ever want to know something about us, get to know the people in our lives.

And the last science, which is quantum physics, ties together everything, literally, into a matrix where we are all a part of the whole. Newtonian physics used to believe that the smallest particle of matter was the atom but it is now believed that even smaller “quanta” exists where there is an infinite amount of particles between two atoms and that there is no real “empty space”. Everything is connected. From this comes the chaos theory where the butterfly effect shows how the waving of a butterfly’s wings can effect a hurricane on the other side of the globe, or in other words, small, somewhat insignificant changes initially, can make influential big changes in the long term outcome. Quantum physics helps reveal how someone on the other side of the world can affect another on the other side with their thoughts and prayers through the concept of non-locality. Time and space is one reality which is linear and yet, non-linear realities do exist. These non-linear realities exist on a higher frequency of vibration that the physical sense organs can not detect. And when one is able to tap into these realms (such as with deep meditation), an infinite and expansive understanding of life is observed. This brings understanding of how primitive civilizations were able to study the movements of planets and stars and make predictions of the future. They saw the patterns. They studied nature and their surroundings. They saw themselves in the Garden of Eden rather than being cast out of it. Time and space allowed for an understanding of the concept of the past and future but the reality is that there really is only the present moment right now. It is through our connection with our surroundings and others that we are able to realize this. The duality, or separation of self from other, is necessary as a foundation to bring unity. In what is called the law of the triangle, when two opposing forces interact and without interference, a third, newer force is created. In other words, evolution. The simplicity of that third point of the triangle combines with other points and creates a greater complexity and goes on infinitely where layer upon layer of newer third points are created. We can tap into evolution when we tap into the present. It is like in the Matrix Trilogy movies where one can plug into the matrix and experience the true reality of existence and transcend the delusion of duality.

With the recent box-office success of the movie, Avatar, there is no coincidence that it was released now in this time in the history of the world. The movie uses all these great visual and special effects to spark the viewers’ imagination and to entice normally spiritually-inept individuals into seeing a very meaningful and relevant movie of our time. It is metaphorical of how in our society we tend to look for quick-fixes to help us feel good. All we want is to feel good and not feel bad. The pills we take and the procedures we endure are like the special effects we’ve been hearing others talk about in the movie or the buzz that “it was such a great flick” that get us into the theater in the first place. It’s the promise of a good movie that’s sparks our interest to move towards it like a pill promises pain relief. And once we watch the film, we are exposed to an opportunity to evolve and propel ourselves out of our mediocrity and to grow from our experiences. It’s okay if one did not understand the storyline because the essence of the message has been exposed to them and because of what we learned about mirror neurons, if others did get the message, it’s also within them. That’s the beauty of understanding interconnectedness: if you don’t get to experience something, someone else did, and because we are all one in unity, you actually did get the experience although on a metaphysical level. Imagine how freeing this wisdom is knowing that someone else is experiencing something you always wanted to do or didn’t want to do, so now you can freely invest your energies in a more concise manner into the deeper questions of life. In the movie, the planet Pandora was a dynamic, neuronal network where everything on the planet was interconnected and nothing of it was separated from it self. The habitants, the flora, the animals and creatures, the whole environment were able to communicate with each other and learn to live in right relationship. It wasn’t until outsiders (us Humans) arrived and threatened to destroy the planet, that the planet started to re-organize in order to re-establish balance again. All of the residents of Pandora united together in response to the Human threat and for the Humans who embraced the “kill or be killed” and “survival of the fittest” mentality, they were defeated. And in the end with the transformation of the movie’s hero was symbolizing the continual, infinite evolution of existence.

To live a long life in our modern age is to transcend all duality and evolve into unity. As we go against this, we suffer. We create our own suffering. This is how cancer, AIDS, heart disease, mental illness, wars, murder, natural disasters, and all of the calamities known to mankind originate. Chaos and the butterfly effect. You against me. Ignorance. A world can exist without suffering. A world can exist without money as we know it today. The butterfly effect demonstrates that what we think and do today, right now, greatly affects our tomorrow. And it is through community, through sharing of ideas and experiences, through learning and growing with each other, through connecting to our interconnectedness, that we can all live long lives. This is why the internet is such an incredible dynamic. No where in Human history have we ever been able to connect with so many people from all over the world in an instant. Applications such as Facebook Twitter, and Youtube are fantastic outlets to share your self with the world. From the Matrix Trilogy we can take the red pill and plug ourselves in and truly know that we are all Co-Operators and Co-Creators of this world and beyond.

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