In the beginning of life, molecules had to come together to create a place in which life could begin. Without molecules merging, there would be no life. Same, too, for us. Our cells come together, merge to create each of us. And we, as physically realized humans typically come together and create communities – families, friends, churches, temples. Each can be a sanctuary, a safe place that holds a bit of the sacredness of our lives.
Take some time to consider how you create sanctuary, for belonging and sharing the highs and lows, the gifts of life. What your molecules do to nurture that sacred spark of life, we also do. Know that you are a sanctuary of trillions of cells. Create an altar or place in your heart as a reminder.
No cell survives alone. In the developing brain, neurons that fail to connect with other neurons die. In the Petri dish, a single cell living alone will program itself to die. We know from scientific research that people who lack social connections fail to thrive and even die younger than their socially more active neighbors. People with few connections get colds more frequently. When 2 or more are gathered together, our cells and we thrive.
Recognize the important connections in your life. What is the most meaningful community to which you belong? Name 2 friends you can call upon when you are feeling lonely. Share yourself today; invite someone for a walk or dinner.
Every day your cells use about 3 pounds of molecular energy. Where does all that come from? Cells have developed ways to recycle their spent energy provided they have a bit of food, nutrients, and oxygen. You can help them by cultivating practices that allow you to relax and breathe deeply. When you are tense and stressed, your cells become very inefficient in producing energy. Each time you take a brisk walk or sit and meditate, pray, you support your cells in regenerating their energy stores by releasing tension and breathing in delicious oxygen.
When energy is depleted, cells can’t repair themselves, protect you from danger, or support a healthy attitude. Breathe deeply and your cells will reward you. Breathe in nature and all will be rewarded.
Our cells learn together and create tracks of information between many regions of your body. The senses help them anchor and strengthen an experience, be it positive or negative. The more times we remember a positive experience, like gratitude, the more cells are encoding the memory.
Recall a time you felt deeply grateful; remember the smells, sights, touch, sounds, and maybe even taste associated with that experience. Each time you embody gratitude with your senses, even if it seems like its ‘only’ in your mind, you’re helping your cells remember. They create an ever-ready state of gratitude for you to hold sacred.
Our cells can respond only to what you think is the truth. When you pretend to be truthful and know that you are holding back the real truth, your cells respond with stress. They know you are holding back or thinking a lie.
While training people who conducted lie detector tests about the physiology, University of Texas professor James Pennebaker was asked why a criminal responded with relaxation after confessing to the crime. Going back to his college students, he wanted to find out. So he had two groups- one which wrote about what they did that day while the other group wrote their thoughts and feelings about something they’d never told someone, a secret, a lie, a shame. Each group did this exercise for 15 minutes for 4 days. Those who had confessed in writing, in the long run, had fewer health problems and less stress. No one else had to even see what he or she wrote for the benefits. The simple act of disclosing the story helped them let go of the stressful hiding. Pennebaker’s interpretation: with confession we are letting go of the held-in secret; the hiding the lie or secret is stressful. Our cells know the truth and hold you to it.
Taking this simple strategy to people with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis, those who wrote about what was secretly the most stressful to them improved their lung function or lessened their joint pain. These health benefits for this 4 day exercise (total time about 1 hour) lasted 6 months.
Remember Cells R Us and have survived millions of year, just maybe they know something that can help us thrive.