“Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton

This one has been percolating for a while. I still don’t have my head wrapped around this to feel that I am going to do this justice. I also need to get it out of my system so I can move on.

I listened to an audio book by a fellow named Bruce Lipton, called “The Biology of Belief”. To say that this book has rocked my world is an understatement. Being that I listened to the audiobook I have a couple of negative biases that I had to get past before this info sank in. The main one being that the book is “read” by Bruce Lipton himself. I was put off by the level of absolutism he approached this topic with. I expected a scientist to speak about hypothesis and theory with a modicum of curiosity.  He also sounded more like he was monologuing rather than reading what he had written. I want to pick up the actual book and compare. I also want to dig deeper into this as I feel that I have a very thin understanding of this topic so far.

Lipton is a biologist who has been studying cell structure his whole career. In his book he describes the path of his career in quite a bit of detail.  His trajectory has greatly informed his current path of epigenetics and he goes into quite a bit of detail of his early research. Keep in mind that he is not without controversy considering he has crossed the streams of spirituality with science. From what I can gather, he is most criticized for his discussions around the idea that we can control our biology with our mind and beliefs. 

The high level takeaway that has me reeling is his research that shows the impact trauma has on a biological level.  By reversing the idea that we can fix our ailments mechanically (e.g. taking pills) he shows there is biological evidence that we can alter our physicality through our mind.

Through a lengthy process of extrapolation, he draws the listener to the idea that the human body operates in very much the same way as a far less complicated single cell. He talks about the basics of cell structure and gets into some very high level discussions about the process of what makes a muscle cell react in such a way that it will contract or relax. He explains the stimuli that are required to make that muscle contraction/relaxation happen. In simple terms he explains how the “skin” around the outside of the cell has receptors and effectors. These biological sensors read the world around the cell, catch certain input, then cause the muscle to contract or relax.

(I know that this is incredibly dumbed down for the sake of me trying to figure out how to put these thoughts into writing. I do recommend looking into it to form your own opinions.)

His book walks you through the growth of a human from conception through to birth and goes into great detail about how our bodies are taking on stimuli from very early on. Lipton talks about research that has been done that shows how if a mother who is constantly under stress over the course of gestation, the baby will be born with a brain that has a smaller frontal lobe, and a larger rear lobe. He continues to describe how this kind of stimulation and brain development makes someone more reactive. This could mean they’re more likely to excel as an athlete. It could also mean more emotional volatility.

I was spurred to write this blog post because I read an article by my friend, Laura Zera, that spoke about trauma-informed therapy. It is my understanding that Lipton’s research ties directly into the relatively new shift towards trauma-informed therapy and I can’t help but see the massive impact this direction of thinking will have on a world that seems to be hurting more and more each day. 

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