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  • sandy
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  • cells - cytoskeleton - healing - spirituality - tensegrity -


A strange idea for sure until you learn how cells ‘decide’ what to do.

First of all, a cell EITHER reproduces OR matures.  It can only do one at a time.

What influences the cell’s choice is the physical tension on the cell and whether it’s ATTACHED to a surface.  When I used to grow cells in the lab, in plastic dishes, only when the surface was coated with certain materials could the cells attach and grow.

Now to current research, first initiated by Harvard professor Donald Ingber –

Cells attached to a surface and stretched out, reproduce themselves.  Think how a cut on your finger gets repaired, cells  will stretch to fill the  wound, along with doing a lot of other fixings.

When cells LET GO of some of their attachments, while also holding some tone, they begin to MATURE.
When cells LET GO OF ALL OF THEIR ATTACHMENTS, they fully let go and die.

Ingber and other scientists have shown that the mechanical tension of a cell (attached, stretched taut, or loose) affects the genes – the amount of physical tension impacts genetic expression. This concept of mechanical tension influencing the integrity of an object is known as TENSEGRITY.

I like to take this cellular model to ‘real life’ –

When we are fully attached to an idea, a thought, a behavior, we keep on repeating ourselves.  Only when we let go of some of our attachments are we able to mature and go on to expressing more of who we are meant to be.  And when we are ready to fully let go, it is our time for another journey.

One of the tenets of Buddhism is to let go of attachments so we can become spiritually mature. I am not a Buddhist so I hope I have expressed the concept correctly.

However I propose that our cells offer clues to spiritual and sacred teachings – they  have known all along how to survive and thrive. They hold many secrets to life.

More Resources on Cells as Teachers:


Scientist-photographer author and teacher bringing together science, art and sometimes the sacred. PhD biochemist, post-doc in immunology and years of teaching mindbody health and sensory awareness. Looking within with a microscope my vision of the world has changed, yours might, too.