holistic health

You're Not a Slave to Your Genes

by Hervé Boisdé


Ever since Darwin revolutionized science with his seminal work “The Origin of the Species”, humans have understood that much of who we are is down to our DNA and our genes. But more recent science, called epigenetics, has revised Darwin’s theories to a degree. It turns out that we are much more influenced by the environment than previously believed. According to recent studies, as reported in this 2011 article, “Why Your Genes Don’t Determine Your Health” in the Huffington Post, 70-90 percent of disease risk comes from the environment, and not genetics:

“In October 2010 Science magazine(ii) published an important paper that reviewed the notion of the “exposome”—the idea that the environment in which your genes live is more important than your genes themselves. What this suggests is that applying genomics to treat disease is misguided because 70-90 percent of your disease risk is related to your environment exposures and the resultant alterations in molecules that wash over your genes.”

In fact, our genes are influenced not just by our environment, but also our perception of our environment. In a nutshell what this means is that our thoughts influence our genes. So we actually have the power to control our genetic makeup and our health, by changing our thoughts.

I’ll let Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of 2005’s “The Biology of Belief”, explain in his own words:,

He’s effectively saying that whereby previously we thought we were victims of the health defects of our ancestors, now we know that it’s not true. We are not slaves to genetics, we are the masters of our bodies and our health.

But how do we control our thoughts and our perceptions of our environment? As it turns out, many holistic practices are excellent for this. Meditation and hypnotherapy can calm our minds and remove limiting beliefs from the subconscious part of our mind. Much of our programmed thought patterns come from the traumas that we’ve been subjected to throughout our lives, but especially in childhood. By removing those blocks, we can have more positive thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Quantum Physics has been changing science’s view on what makes up reality. It’s now understood that everything is made up of energy. Even thoughts are basically energy. And so while the current medical model uses chemicals to create changes in the body, now it’s being understood that anything that affects energy can also affect the body. And while traditional invasive and chemistry-based medicine has been very effective at treating acute health conditions like emergencies from trauma and infectious diseases, it has struggled with chronic illnesses and health problems, like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, and cancer.

Part of the problem is that medical science, for a long time, viewed the body like a machine, and didn’t take a holistic approach to healing the body, mind and spirit of the patient. Now modern medicine recognizes the mind-body connection and the need to treat root causes not just the symptoms in the physical body. But since the medical establishment is still dominated by the profit-making industries of the pharmaceutical companies and insurance-subsidized invasive procedures, healthcare has become increasingly expensive and with numerous side-effects. Recent studies have shown that medical errors are now the 3rd leading cause of death.

Preventative medicine and enhanced self-care can go a long way to helping the situation and help to lower costs as well. Psychologists tell us that 70% of our thoughts are negative and/or redundant. The subconscious mind is where most of our habits are stored, so in order to change our negative emotional habits and thoughts, we need to affect changes in the subconscious as well as the conscious mind. Working with energy medicine also holds promise for the future, such as Reiki, Healing Touch, sound therapy and Qigong. Nutrition, stress management, and therapies that improve emotional states are also important. And while talk therapy has it’s value, it is increasingly understood that simply revisiting old hurts and pains without changing our thought patterns and subconscious programming is not as positive a form of change as is necessary.

Meditation, mindfulness, and increasingly, hypnotherapy is receiving attention for it’s ability to change the subconscious habits and old, negative thought patterns into more productive ones. In addition to situational stress, caused by factors in our living situation, we also have the stress caused by our history, traumas, and subconscious programming. Healing traumas can improve our emotions, our thoughts and our physical health. When we becoming triggered by our traumas and go into fight or flight mode, our body actually prioritizes immediate survival over healing the body. We can naturally heal ourselves by getting out of fight/flight and into a more relaxed state, or parasympathetic mode.

Other modalities, such as yoga, massage and acupuncture are also very effective for calming the nervous system and promoting natural healing in the body, but what’s important is to create long term change in our thoughts, emotions and our environment.

The Mind/Body Connection and Hypnotherapy

by Hervé Boisdé


With every new client I always do a quick exercise in the first session that's meant to demonstrate the "power of the subconscious mind". I hand the client a small pendulum, the kind you can find in New Age shops with a stone or crystal at the end, and tell them to hold it up in front of them, at eye level. Then I say "Without consciously moving the pendulum with your hand, just look at the pendulum and imagine it swinging back and forth...just like a clock pendulum. See a clock pendulum in your mind's eye....like a grandfather clock...swinging back and forth".

And then invariably, within a few seconds, the pendulum will start swinging back and forth. Then I ask the client to imagine it changing direction and going in a circle. And then usually it will start shifting almost immediately and go into a circle. After the demo the client is generally stunned, and will say something like "Did I do that?" or "That's so weird!".  Then I say, 'Yes, you did that. Or rather your subconscious mind did it for you.' This is because the subconscious mind controls certain muscles in the body: the heartbeat, breathing, reflex motor response, and tiny imperceptible muscle movements called 'micro-muscle movements'. The swinging of the pendulum is created by those micro-muscle movements, which are controlled not by the conscious mind, but the subconscious mind.

This quick exercise is a great way to demonstrate the mind/body connection. But it also demonstrates hypnosis. When the person is using his/her imagination to visualize the clock pendulum and is causing the actual pendulum to start swinging this is actually an altered state. It's trance, a form of hypnosis. The client's eyes are still open but they are experiencing relaxed, focused, concentration.  That's all hypnosis is. Just like meditation, the brainwaves slow down and the person experiences some relaxation in the body while, simultaneously, they are able to focus and concentrate more easily. When a person has their eyes closed, the hypnotic trance can be even easier, and deeper.

So why is this even important to someone other than a hypnosis geek like me? Because most emotions and issues have a corresponding feeling in the body. Stress can cause headaches, digestive issues, sexual dysfunction...just to mention the tip of the iceberg. But many issues are not necessarily caused by accumulated stress in the mind/body. Insomnia for example might be caused by an emotional block in the subconscious mind that was formed in childhood by a negative event (trauma) that is getting triggered again in adulthood. Anxiety triggered by public speaking might be a symptom of a limiting belief created in elementary school. In fact, most "blocks" are formed in childhood, before age 8. This is because the critical factor (the gatekeeper between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind) has not yet formed in early childhood, making young children more vulnerable to negative events that can leave a lasting impression.

Hypnotherapy is, in effect, about healing these blocks, or limiting beliefs, and replacing them with more positive beliefs. One of the techniques available to hypnotherapists is to use regression to trace the issue back to the source. We are in fact going back to the memory of the negative event/trauma that created the block. One of the best ways to locate that memory is to use the body. The client's problem creates an emotion, a negative emotion, or else they wouldn't be coming to me to get help. We can locate that negative emotion in the body....maybe it's a feeling of a knot in the stomach....or tightness in the chest...or perhaps a feeling of heaviness in the heart. We use the body to go back in time to when they first had that feeling. The subconscious mind will remember when that feeling was first felt and bingo!...that's the "initial sensitizing event", when the block was formed. Then the hypnotherapist can do a trauma reversal on the memory to help heal the block.

The great thing about hypnosis is that the mind/body connection goes both ways. When a person goes into hypnosis they experience the healing effects of being in parasympathetic mode. This is the opposite of the stress response, when the nervous system is in 'fight or flight' mode. Parasympathetic mode is naturally healing to the body and to the mind. Because when the body is relaxing, so does the mind, and vice versa. Parasympathetic mode allows the body processes to function more optimally. Digestion, metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, and the body's hormone levels are regulated to healthy levels. Just going into hypnosis not only helps with stress levels, but it's actually healing to the body as well. That's why I teach many of my clients self-hypnosis to manage stress and to allow their bodies to heal more efficiently.

As more and more studies emerge about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for medical issues, we shouldn't be surprised. Modern science now recognizes the mind/body connection. Now it's up to the medical establishment to see the full potential for hypnosis to heal the body as well as the mind.