It is fascinating to trace your family history back through the generations. Millions agree, considering the popularity of TV programs such as Who do you think you are?
I find it amazing that the well-known personalities who delve into the past are quite emotional about the heartbreaks, injustices and challenges experienced by their forebears, who they have only just discovered existed. On the plus side, this has led to healing in families when today’s standards and insights about race, religion, circumstances and nationality have been brought to the table.
Genealogy websites are just as popular. My cousins had traced our family tree back several generations. So, earlier this year we visited a family estate in Ireland and our namesake town in England and felt the warmth of belonging, despite never having visited before.
On the downside, shocking discoveries about forebears, such as a relative who promoted slavery, or great, great-grandparents who included criminals, prisoners, millionaires and paupers, all pepper family histories. Not to mention records of disease and mental illness resurfacing over the generations.
Wherever you live in the world, the conventional wisdom is that you’re stuck with your genetic lucky dip, such as Dad’s big nose or Nana’s stoop. However, you may also be blessed with Grandpa’s glorious head of curls or your mother’s lovely olive skin.
Invariably we brush it off with the comment, “win some, lose some,” although intuitively discerning that we almost certainly have an eternal, spiritual nature that we’d like to investigate, in due course.
Biological scientists have believed for some time that genetic disorders and diseases are inherited and may be unavoidable. However, the new science of epigenetics raises important questions about these beliefs and the possibilities for turning genes on or off.
There is also medical controversy today whether the growing popularity of whole genome testing, DNA genetic screening, exome sequencing, genetic carrier testing, presymptomatic testing and predictive testing are more beneficial or detrimental to health in the long run. Since clinicians like Dr Damien Finniss, who undertakes placebo research at the University of Sydney Pain Management Research Institute, have found that patient recovery rates are very much related to their positive or negative beliefs about the possibility of a return to health.
“Belief is critical because belief has the ability to trigger part of the overall healing response. In simple terms, belief is part of why we get better,” he explains.
There’s fairly universal acceptance of the Scriptural proverb which declares, “for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
So could our beliefs about health be the underlying question to be considered … above all else?
We know very well that mistaken thinking can lead to racism or extremism. It can also lead to anxiety and sickness.
Many people are finding that a higher viewpoint based on an understanding of their spiritual nature, not in the distant future but right now, can actually elicit life-transforming change and physical adjustment. “The conceptions of mortal, erring thought must give way to the ideal of all that is perfect and eternal,” instructed health and spirituality reformer, Mary Baker Eddy.
Lisa Grant discovered that ideal for herself. While still a teenager she courageously strove to escape a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, knowing that this autoimmune disease is often considered genetic and incurable.
She avidly explored various forms of alternative medicine and theories on the mind-body connection, as well as spirituality and its link to health. She says that she found her way to total freedom quickly once she began to understand that rather than being a matter-based organism, she reflected only the Divine consciousness.
Grant had replaced the belief in genetic vulnerability with the spiritual understanding that disease was no part of her real being.
Genealogy and genetics can be a fascinating record about our ancestors or the current status of beliefs about health, but it’s important for us each to realise that in no way can they predetermine our life experience, talents or healthy outcomes when our true spiritual nature is understood.