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At the University of Chicago, this is exactly what scientists did. Researchers also looked very closely at how social order affects genetic function.
As it turns out, within a matter of weeks, social ranking actually changed the expression of the genetic code itself. The change is called an epigenetic change.
The scientists that were observing the monkeys were particularly interested in a portion of these genes that was devoted to immune function. They found that low social rank correlated with chronic stress and compromised immune function.
At the University of Chicago, scientists were tempted to draw a correlation between monkeys and humans. Namely, to prove that low socioeconomic status and high degrees of social stress are enough to alter a person’s genetic risk for disease.
At one time we thought that the genetic code was fixed.
We now know that while the structure of DNA remains the same, its expression can be modified.
Several different factors can turn the genes in the genetic code ‘on’ or ‘off.’
In a sense, each gene is equipped with its own light switch. This switch allows information stored in the genetic code to either express itself or to lie quietly dormant.
What flips the switch? These are things like diet, stress, lifestyle and environment.
For example, in both mice and human beings, studies have found that the quality of care that a baby receives after birth is enough to alter genetic expression.
But are we as humans guided by survival instincts alone?
Outside of the animal kingdom, we find that the heart space trumps survival instinct.
This means that we have the ability to find meaning in all things and to feel an immense sense of gratitude—in spite of social stress.
When we tune into the heart, we have the capacity to transform any situation. Remember, stress is perceived.
There is no denying that for monkeys, mice and humans alike, very real physiological stressors exist. These are things like infection, disease, physical trauma and dramatic changes in environment.
However, for many of us the way out of the storm is to find quietude within. And because we have access to unlimited support within our heart center, this is possible.
Essentially, our thoughts and our feelings can flip the switch and allow your genetic code to work for you.
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