I have been studying genealogy for my family since I was a child. I would travel to the Mormon Temple to access their genealogical library. I found the staff to be very helpful in teaching me how to research my family tree.
I became interested in genealogy for two reasons. I wanted to know more about our family’s ethnicity, and I wanted to know if the problems our family had were related in a way in which they grew up, the environment, culture, traditions, family struggles, challenges and physical and mental health issues.
In addition to immersing myself in genealogy, I would ask family members about their experiences growing up. I found immense wisdom about their experiences whether they were beneficial or destructive.
Ancestral Trauma and Family Dysfunction
There are many types of ancestral trauma, ranging from colonization, immigrants fleeing for survival, genocide, a severe accident, serious and terminal illness, domestic violence, emotional, physical and sexual abuse to children, rape and incest, loss of family members, divorce, poverty and addictions of alcoholism, and drugs. In many families, one or two, or some of all of these may be of issue. When these traumas happen, the aftermath of emotions affect not only the victims, but also the children of the future. Generations of the future may be affected by their parent’s behaviors, not understanding what happened to their parents because of several reasons.
People who go through severe trauma may block out the event to reside in the subconscious part of the brain. Some are too embarrassed to speak about it, so therefore never seek professional help. Some resort to addictions, burying their sadness, fears, and anger in substances. When these traumas are not dealt with, acting out behaviors rise to the surface, affecting family members for generations forward. As long as these traumas are not resolved, they will be transferred forward in the form of the same trauma the original individual experienced or in the form of emotional outbursts resulting in abuse to those who do not deserve it.
The Science of How Ancestral Trauma is Passed On
In the discussion of nature vs nurture, there has always been the thought of both. Recent scientific studies show, parents who are subjected to psychosocial stress, pass on these stresses to their children through epigenetics. According to: NCBI; The Epigenetic Impacts of Early Life Stress; “Overall, the evidence indicates that fetal gestation, infancy and childhood are sensitive periods during which exposure to social adversity can induce behavioral, psychological and epigenetic changes that may persist into adulthood”. ( 2016, para 4)
The study of epigenetics has contributed to major a breakthrough in discussions whether changes in one’s behaviors are genetic or are due to environment. Epigenetics explain both, in which traumatic stress events determine whether genes are turned on or off. When a gene is turned off it can lead to genetic disorders. According to Genetics Home Reference (2019) “Because errors in the epigenetic process, such as modifying the wrong gene or failing to add a compound to a gene, can lead to abnormal gene activity or inactivity, they can cause genetic disorders. Conditions including cancers, metabolic disorders, and degenerative disorders have all been found to be related to epigenetic errors.”
Further, mental illness is also passed on through epigenetics. ” As a result, examination of the potential role of epigenetic modifications has become an alternative to classical genetics for mental diseases, just as the imprinted brain theory proposes. And as the theory would predict, many genes associated with autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder have been found to show epigenetic modification” (Psychology Today, 2015)
Can Epigenetic Triggers Be Reversed?
If a switch can be turned off, then it can certainly be switched back on. If the trigger is stress and negativity, then the cure can be well-being and positivity. If negative changes in the brain can switch off these genes, then we can change the way our brain perceives something by rewiring it. Studies in treatment of reversing epigenetic changes, include hypnosis, meditation, and alternative medicine like Reiki energy healing, cranial sacral therapy, neuro-linguistic programming and biofeedback. Having a Reiki practice, I find treatment for some disorders such as PTSD, anxiety and depressive disorders successful with a series of Reiki sessions. We are not doomed by our ancestor’s traumas, if we come to terms with what happened, take responsibility for changing how we respond, and passing on the tools for changing negative emotions.
Research has shown that supporting the body and mind in a positive way, (self care) can reverse the effects of trauma.
A supportive regimen for your cells and DNA would include:
1.A Healthy Diet: Food is medicine. Eat organic whenever possible, chemically treated food adds to more disease in the body and mind. Eat a mostly plant based diet.
2. Physical Activity: Oxygen is needed for physical and mental health. Exercise supplies oxygen to the brain for clearer thinking and releases endorphins for a feeling of well-being.
3. Challenge: Stretch your mental boundaries a little at a time. Open your mind to possibilities.
4. New Experiences: Take a trip, explore new places and try new things.
5. Laughter: Release endorphins, (feel good hormones). Studies show endorphins have a direct positive effect on helping the immune system to heal.
6. Social Connection: Make social connections whenever possible, go to events, and keep in touch with friends. People live a longer and more meaningful life when they are active socially.
7. Alternative medicine techniques: Reiki energy healing, meditation, hypnosis and other techniques reach into the subconscious to visualize traumatic events, and rewire and replace them with positive ones. Repetition of these practices teaches and empowers us to take control of our thoughts and to rewire our brains ourselves for a more positive outlook on life.
- Disclaimer: Reiki or any other alternative practices mentioned on this website are not meant to replace any treatment already prescribed by your physician or mental health therapist.