25 Jun Learn How Mindfulness can Erase the Genetic Imprint of Fear
A young mouse called Jerry came out to this world from his mother’s womb in an experimental cage at the Neuroscience Department at the Emory University. He’s probably the most innocent mouse entering this world with a genetic imprint of fear for cherry blossom. But, why should he be afraid of the smell of cherry blossom? If you need to understand that, then you should know his great-great-grandfather’s father story.
Cherry Blossom Experiment
A group of neuroscientists conducted an experiment using a mouse. They taught the male mouse to fear the scent of cherry blossoms by associating the scent with mild foot shocks. They conducted this experiment until the mouse would be afraid of the smell of cherry blossom alone. And, two weeks later they bred this male mouse with female mice who were not part of the cherry blossom experiment. The resulting mice pups were not exposed to cherry blossom smell until their adulthood. And, for the first time, they exposed the mice to the scent of cherry blossom. At the very moment, the mice became anxious and fearful.
One of the male mice again bred and the resulting pups also had the similar reaction to the cherry blossom. Likewise, until six generations the fear for cherry blossom passed on to the mouse. And our Jerry is the sixth generation little mouse who had also developed fear for the smell of cherry blossom right from his young age due to the stronger genetic imprints.
Scientists have found that the conditioning to the fear for cherry blossom has slowly developed cherry blossom detecting neurons in the mouse’s brain. And, these neurons multiply and formed a strong wiring in their brain and created a repository of memory. This memory transferred into the gene and made a Genetic Imprint. These genetic imprints are so strong that they can pass down until six generations.
This study was published in the Nature Neuroscience Journal in the year 2013. Right after this study, mounting research studies showed that the gene expression can be altered (which is termed as epigenetics– where the genetic code will remain the same, however, the gene expression will change) according to our lifestyle and the environment we are living. And also, scientists have proved that the altered gene expression can be re-altered by rewiring the brain.1
Cultivating Positive Thinking Remedy to Unwind Fear
If you are a Jew and feel traumatised by the Holocaust2, even though you weren’t born when it happened, or feel frightened for any such events or things that you were not exposed in your life3, then it could be because of your genetic imprinting. But, the most important thing here is you can erase those genetic imprint and alter them. In the recent decade, scientists have found that productive, positive thinking can not only motivate you and also restructure your brain but also alter your genetic code.
There are many ways to cultivate positive thinking. One of the powerful ways to cultivate them is through mindfulness meditation. Religiously when you practice mindfulness meditation, you can slowly erase the memory of fear from your brain and rewire your brain for being calm and composed.
Practicing Mindfulness Meditation to Erase Genetic Imprint of Fear
- Practicing Mindfulness Meditation for 48 days.
According to the Vedic tradition and Patanjali Yoga Sutra, if you start any new task or practice, it will take 48 days for it to become a part of your system. That is why in Ayurveda, medicines are prescribed for 48 days, the length of the time the medicine is needed to clear the root cause of the disease.
Many research studies have proven the benefit of practicing mindfulness meditation for more than 6 weeks.4,5,6 So, the first step to overcome your fear is to be aware of how your fears are causing havoc. And, that is possible only by observing your mind and emotions. When you try to be mindful, you get a sense of liberation from your thoughts and emotions. Eventually, you can control your reaction to the fear. So, try to practice mindfulness for 20 minutes daily morning and evening continuously for 48 days without breaking the cycle.
1. Writing Morning Pages
Morning pages are something you need to do before starting your morning meditation. Morning pages are an empowering tool for your personal transformation. In the early morning, we are half awake and half asleep, and we have full access to our unconscious state of mind. In that deep inner world, we can erase and recreate anything we want in our lives. So, try to write down or list down your fears in your journals every morning for 48 days. Keep your journal by your bed and reach for it while you are still half asleep.7
2. Expressing Gratitude
Next, list down 5 things you are grateful for from yesterday. Usually, our mind focuses on everything that’s not going well. So, try to take some time to say thanks and appreciate what went well yesterday. This can help to cultivate positive thinking attitude. You can write down once you complete your morning pages.
To sum up, practicing mindfulness meditation will help you to control your reaction and emotions towards fear. Writing morning pages will slowly help to erase the memory of fear. And by expressing gratitude, you can build positive thinking patterns that help to rewire your brain. So, just by doing these three steps every day for the next 48 days, you can completely transform and liberate from the genetic imprint of fear.