How You View Your Body Changes Your Body (10/17/12)
Thought As Action
Ideas change the world. They also change your body.
In the early nineteenth century scientists worked eagerly to discover the fundamentals of chemistry. Using progressively more accurate equipment they measured the ratio of oxygen to hydrogen in water, of oxygen to carbon in what we now call carbon dioxide.
The ratios they came up with? Things like 2.6 to one; 3.4 to one; 2.35 to one.
Then Briton John Dalton came along. His new atomic “theory” described how chemicals were made of atoms. Atoms were whole, indivisible, complete entities. Combined together in molecules their ratios were also whole numbers – integers.
Lo and Behold. The same scientists using the same equipment measured water and carbon dioxide again. And now their ratios of “atoms” were 2:1, or very close.
How you see the world changes it – including what you see, where you see – and what it means.
Theories are powerful – particularly in explaining the physical world. Those who reject “theories” like evolution and quantum information theory should, logically, reject the modern world those theories made possible. Neither their bodies nor much of the technology they use and love could exist without those theories.
So theories and views matter a lot. Your body is no different.
The Standard Model
Newton and many who followed him in future centuries saw the universe as a machine. So it was no surprise when the human body also came to be seen as a machine – the most complicated machine extant.
For most people, it still is.
The body as machine is in many ways our “standard model” just as there is a standard model in physics. This standard model, used throughout medicine, sees aging and illness as decline and decay, rather like rusting and flaking.
Those “aging joints” that give you osteoarthritis and a stiff, numb pain when you wake? Just normal decline, your doctor tells you. What can you expect? With time, things fall apart. Look at your car; your toaster; your cell phone; your computer. Entropic decay is everywhere.
The Standard Model is under attack in physics, but has remained robust.
The standard model of medicine, however, deserves to bite the dust.
Problems With the Standard Medical Model
1. Humans don’t just rust and age – we grow and develop. A fertilized ovum goes on to become a newborn, a baby, a child, an adolescent, a middle aged heroine and eventually an elderly matriarch. Unlike toasters and cars, humans change all the time.
2. Humans are alive. Living beings are physico-chemical systems that work against entropy – we create order out of chaos. By its nature life also produces constant change.
3. Humans constantly process information. We learn. We remake themselves.
4. Human remaking and renewing is rapid. Most of your heart is internally replaced within three days.
5. Despite our illusion of a “constant” adult personality, humans change all the time. That includes our memories. Dan Offer’s work show just how much such “basic” memories shift through the decades.
They should. Every time we retrieve a memory we remake it. Every night we lie down to sleep we rewire our brain.
It’s time for a different model.
The Regeneration Model
It’s time to enjoy the new you – and what that new view can do for you.
The Regeneration model is simple. It sees the human body – like every other living being – as constantly processing information to update itself.
Information comes in. It’s processed. The body is remade.
So what you eat changes your gut and belly size – and makes some of your 100 trillion gut bacteria more or less happy. Who you talk to changes your mood and conscious knowledge base. Where you walk changes the antibodies you create to combat the new fungi and bacteria you just met.
Everything gets updated – fast. And just as wisdom comes from increased and accumulated knowledge, the body learns.
And often gets better – especially in terms of its ability to think.
So rather than seeing the body as a machine, see it as a seed that grows up – like an acorn.
That acorn may not look like much. But with the right conditions and nourishment, it can grow into a towering oak, that shelters the ground all around it.
Branches break off in the wind, but grow back. Roots deepen. Leaves take the energy and information given by the sun and convert it to living energy – fuel products that fuel growth.
The Regeneration Model sees you more accurately as you are – growing, living, changing, adapting, remaking and renewing.
That includes “aging” – the development of the human being from blastocyst to grey eminence. Which from an information standpoint is an absolutely incredible ride.
For what you do is what you become.
In the “Boston Maids” study, hotel maids were split in two groups. One was told that what they were doing was fine, to keep it up.
The other was told that their work was good exercise; that they were fulfilling the Surgeon General’s recommendations for healthy physical activity.
A year later the second group had lost more weight, had lower lipid levels and felt better than the first.
Their outlook had changed.
The Regeneration Mindset
Your outlook should change when you see your body for what it is – a remarkable living organism that renews itself constantly and never stops learning – until it literally stops.
The English language has within its confines Shakespeare and Donne, Pynchon and Faulkner. It possesses through books millions of separate worlds which together create numberless others.
The language does it all with 26 letters and perhaps a couple hundred grammatical rules.
Your human genome has only 22-25,000 protein coding genes. That’s less than a lot of other animals.
But for a moment, think of those proteins as separate letters in an alphabet.
And now consider that the recent version of the Human Genome Project found 4 to 40 million gene switches in your “junk” DNA.
Now think of the language of your body – 25,000 letters with millions of grammatical rules.
The complexity and beauty that language might create is transcendent.
The language of your body is far more complex than the English language.
So just think of what you can do with all that biological power – every moment of your living life.
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