Bruce Lipton, PhD is an international recognized leader in bridging science and spirituality. His self-published book The Biology of Belief sold more than 100,000 copies. Bruce has been a guest speaker on hundreds of TV and radio shows. www.brucelipton.com
I met and photographed Bruce Lipton in Rishikesh, India in March 2016. Bruce came with Uplift Connect to speak at the International Yoga Festival. Two months later I photographed Bruce at his home in Bonny Doon, CA for this blog interview.
Kyer: One of the most exciting fields in modern medicine right now is our growing understanding of the human biome, and how this affects our mental and physical health. Can you explain some of the science around all this?
Bruce: To understand the vital role of our microbiome, we must go back a billion years or more. At this time the biosphere consisted of only single-celled organisms, which included primitive bacteria-like prokaryote cells and the more advanced eukaryotes, amoeba-like protozoan cells. Many protozoan cells ate the prokaryotes. However, some species of prokaryotes excreted important metabolic byproducts vital to the more advanced eukaryotes. This led to life-sustaining symbiotic collaborations among certain species of eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Amoeba cells provide a safe environment for the bacteria and the bacteria reciprocated by providing the amoebas with nutrition, vitamins and energy resources.
Around 500 million years ago, many species of amoeba-like cells began to assemble into vast multicellular colonies, communities that we recognize today as plants and animals. A human body is a community of about 50 trillion amoebas, many of which still retain life-sustaining symbiotic collaboration that depend upon nutritional/genetic exchange with trillions of bacteria. Without these bacteria, our personal microbiome, we could not survive. They are so necessary for our survival that biologists now refer to humans as a super-organism, composed of 50 trillion human cells and as many or more microbes.
Kyer: During our conversations at your home I brought up my observation that children in Bali rarely have temper tantrums or act out. After their children are born, the Balinese don’t usually put their children down for 6-24 months. What is the biology around this type of nurturance and how does it affect the development of a child?
Bruce: All organisms are endowed with a built-in set of behaviors to assure their survival. These behavioral programs are collectively referred to as the Biological Imperative, include such behaviors as, the drive to breathe, the drive to get water, and the drive to seek nutrition among others. Survival-related stress hormones signal the body’s systems to shut down growth and allocate available energy to prepare for threats. High levels of stress hormones in the body provoke the system to engage in aggressive fight or flight behaviors.
A “thermostat” in the brain regulates the concentration of stress hormones in the body. A large number of stress hormone receptors in the brain can rapidly shut down hormone production and return peace to the body. If there are small numbers of stress receptors in the brain, stress hormones may reach critical concentrations and provoke violence before the brain’s feedback “thermostat” shuts off hormone production. Babies continuously held by parents in the first years of their life experience somatosensory affection, the assurance that they are safe in the world. The more they are held, the more stress hormone receptors they acquire in their brains. These kids rapidly shutdown stress signal production and do not live in fear and hence remain calm under any circumstances.
Kyer: We are now learning that Fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases are caused not by genetic or unknown factors, but primarily by unresolved anger and frustration that our minds are not able to process. As a scientist, what is your understanding of how this works, especially in the case of autoimmune related illnesses?
Bruce: My work with cloned stem cells revealed that the genetic activity and behavior of cultured cells is controlled by environmental signals present in the culture medium. Culture medium is a synthetic version of the blood in the organism from which I get the cells. The human body is the equivalent of a “skin-covered” culture dish containing approximately 50 trillion cells grown in the natural culture medium – human blood. The brain controls the chemistry of our blood. The complex of gene and behavior regulating neuro-hormones and emotional chemicals released by the brain is based upon the beliefs and perceptions of the world held in our minds.
The positive placebo effect results from the mind’s release of healing chemistry and not from the sugar pill. Most people are unaware the power and influence of the nocebo effect, wherein negative beliefs/perceptions cause the mind to release chemistry that can create every disease and even cause us to die. Negative thoughts, unresolved hurt and anger, and frustration when held in the mind, are translated by the brain into debilitating blood-borne chemistry. When this negative chemistry reaches the cells, these signals control behavior and gene activity via epigenetic mechanisms. This is how the mind shapes the character and quality of our bodies and lives.
Kyer: One reviewer of your book the Biology of Belief wrote this: “Implying that positive thought can alter cell membrane structure and through that alteration, effect DNA transcription/translation in a way favorable to cell survival or death (depending on the circumstances) has the potential of leading to truly ignorant and insensitive statements like, 'Well, that person died because they didn't think positively enough'.” How do you respond to this criticism? And how does your work in biology stand up to peer review?
Bruce: In The Biology of Belief, I describe that the nervous system operates with the cooperation of two interdependent minds, the conscious mind and subconscious mind. Each mind has a different function and different way of learning. The first and most powerful mind is the subconscious; its massive computing power controls the body’s musculoskeletal system and all automated behaviors. It is a record-playback device that downloads behaviors as programs. Push the button, play the same behavior over and over. The more advanced conscious mind is the creative mind, a mind that can imagine a future based on experiences and learning. The conscious mind is the source of our wishes, desires and aspirations, as well as our positive thoughts. The conscious mind is directly connected to our unique identity and likely represents the seat of our source or spirit.
When creating our lives with the conscious mind, “we” are driving the vehicle (body) and are in direct control its behavior and character. When our conscious minds are at the wheel, we move toward our wishes, desires and positive thoughts. However, science reveals that the conscious mind is engaged in thought and not paying attention at least 95% of the day. At these times, the body vehicle is under the control of the “autopilot,” the subconscious mind’s programs. Most of our daily conventional behaviors have been downloaded into the subconscious as habits (programs), such as walking, driving the car, carrying out your job, etc.
As the book describes, “positive thinking,” a behavior of the conscious mind, can control our fate for only about 5% of the time … at most. By default, the programs of the subconscious mind are those that are really control the character of our lives. The majority of these programs are self-destructive. “Positive thinking” really works when the positive thoughts are downloaded as “programs” into the subconscious mind.