Gina Murdock: What is essential is invisible to the eye
Why do we need to prove something we already know?
When I started working with Dr. Deepak Chopra in 2014, our job was basically to prove something all of us involved knew to be true. Deepak named the project, “Self Directed Biological Transformation,” SBTI for short, and he amassed an incredible group of scientists and doctors, including Nobel Laureates, to spend time, energy and money to prove that our lifestyle affects our health, well being and longevity. Duh. We know that! And, we proved it. So what?
This study in particular investigated the effects of yoga, meditation and simple Ayurvedic foods on certain biomarkers for health and well being. Not surprisingly, the participants who practiced yoga, meditation and ate well (we ate organic, vegetarian kitchari for a week during the experiment) showed a tangible and consistent increase in biomarkers for health and a decrease of biomarkers for stress, disease and decay. Yeah!
SBTI proved we have a choice; it proved that almost 95% of our genetic makeup could be altered by lifestyle, much more than previously thought. We can basically turn on and off, in varying degrees, healthy or unhealthy expressions of the genes. Proving this scientifically helps shift culture. It can inspire people who are not already believers — including doctors who like to prescribe pills more than lifestyle changes much of the time — that they have so much more power over their health and well being than they might have thought.
It’s exciting and inspiring to “know” what we already know through science. I loved being involved in this experiment, but it didn’t change my lifestyle that much because I was already doing most of the things that we proved are good to do. And, when I wasn’t, I already knew better. For some people though, that research helped change behavior, and that means more people are living healthier, happier lives. Yeah!
Here’s another thing I know, but that I didn’t know until recently had been proven by science: Spirituality is the bedrock of well being, especially in the mental realm. At Lead with Love, we recently started talking with and now partnering with Dr. Lisa Miller, a professor at Columbia University. Her book, “The Awakened Brain,” shares her decades-long research into spirituality and what happens to our brains when we are connected to something greater than ourselves. Hint: It’s good, really good.
Dr. Miller shares in her book how we are more creative, collaborative, ethical and innovative with an “awakened” or spiritual perception. She shares that an engaged spiritual life enhances grit, optimism and resilience while providing insulation against addiction, trauma and depression. This is big stuff, proven by science, that we need to pay attention to especially living in a valley with such a high suicide rate and in a country where it is one of the leading causes of death.
Dr. Miller defines spirituality as having a relationship with the sacred, however you call it. “It is the capacity to feel loved, held and guided, that we are never alone,” she writes. She says spirituality is innate and it is not tied to religion, so it is truly available to anyone. Many of us here in Aspen, I suspect, find it in nature.
For me, finding a sense of spirituality was a process that started in my early yoga classes and the euphoric feeling I had after class. There was a quietude there I had never experienced before. Then, I was introduced to meditation and I cultivated that quiet. Three years at University of Santa Monica studying spiritual psychology sealed the deal for me. I found my “Source.” I got comfortable talking about God and was able to deprogram years of religious dogma that had me feeling separated from God. I came to understand God as LOVE. I got rid of the guilt and shame and original sin and woman coming from a man and all that stuff that never resonated with me. I developed my own relationship with Spirit by being curious and listening, feeling and, ultimately, knowing.
I believe God is within us and all around us. I believe we are all one, interconnected and interdependent. Right now (and for most of human history) I believe we are stuck in an illusion of separation and we are here to wake up to remember our true nature.
Dr. Miller’s research shows that it’s not who or what you believe in that’s important, but that you believe in and know something beyond yourself. She’s been able to prove the science of spirituality, what “The Little Prince” knew all along: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Gina Murdock is the founder of Lead with Love, an Aspen-based nonprofit dedicated to shifting culture from fear to love. For more information about Lead with Love, go to ILeadWithLove.org.