The transgenerational studies are not a “therapy” in the full sense of the word, but an awareness work that allows us to understand the elements of the past that contributed to our development and the establishment of our belief system. Since the 1970s, many therapists started to develop an interest for the impact of the lineage on the individual. Professionals such as Anne Schützenberger, Maria Torok, Nicolas Abraham or Pollock rediscovered something that many other cultures never forgot: the family subconscious interacts with the personal subconscious.
In order to understand the foundations of the transgenerational studies, it is essential that we review our linear conception of time and get rid of our own concepts of past, present and future. For our subconscious mind only exists the present time, the now; everything happens in an eternal now. Therefore, we have to be able to conceive ourselves inside a linear conception of time (past, present, future) while maintaining the timelessness of the perpetual present.
The study of our family tree helps us understand the ancestral nature of our relationships. It takes us on a journey to discover the dynamics and the patterns that create identifications and implications from one generation to the next one, and that have an adverse repercussion on our life. Observing and analyzing our roots is a truly healing exercise. At school we are taught about the history of our country and our culture, but little attention is paid to the history of our family.
The transgenerational study is based on the premise that certain unconscious behavioral patterns are transmitted from generation to generation, and this represents many times a huge obstacle for the individual’s self-realization process. This is why the study of the family tree is indispensable if we wish to become aware of our subconscious inheritance.
Transgenerational studies and Science
Applied to our daily life, quantum physics offers us the possibility of developing a creative way of thinking, a different strategy to face problems. The mere fact of observing (processing what we see also implies an emotional component) determines the objective reality because, derived from this observation, every particle will choose one path or the other. We are affecting this objective world, which is outside us, using only our perception and thoughts.
Quantum physics provides us the definitive proof that it is possible to modify the information contained in the subconscious mind. As we already know, quantum entanglement ignores time-space, so the concepts of past, present and future are purely mental constructs. Actually, the information is in a present, in an eternal now, and manifests itself via the subconscious mind in the present. Therefore, the information recorded in the subconscious mind regarding childhood traumas, the experiences lived during the pregnancy and the life experiences of our ancestors are alive inside us in an eternal present. This is the reason why we have to move to that theoretical past in order to be able to transform the information emanating from it. We are not victims of our inheritance: we have an active role in the construction of our reality.
One of the main scientific foundations of the transgenerational studies is behavioral epigenetics. This discipline states that our experiences do not just disappear; our experiences accompany us in the form of a molecular residue that is fixed to the genetic material. This does not mean that the DNA is modified, but that the physiological and behavioral aspects (those aspects subject to a chemical regulation, for example, in case of depression, where there is an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters) of a given person may be transmitted to the offspring. These molecular residues are, among others, methyl groups that can replicate together with DNA for several generation. According to behavioral epigenetics, the traumatic experiences lived by us or our ancestors in the past leave molecular markers fixed to our DNA.
Research about epigenetic inheritance
One of the most illuminating studies on epigenetics is the research carried out by Rachel Yehuda’s team (Mount Sinai Hospital, New York) about the long-term effects of the Holocaust. In this research, 32 Jewish men and women who were internated in Nazi concentration camps and who witnessed or experienced torture during World War II were genetically studied. Their descendants were also part of the genetic testing. The result of the study revealed that these individual have an increased probability of suffering stress disorders as compared to Jewish families living outside Europe during the Holocaust.
Yehuda’s team discovered that the chronic stress experienced by the parents, which was transmitted to their offspring, is caused due to a reduced production of a hormone that helps excrete the hormone cortisol (the stress hormone) from the body; this is an adaptive mechanism to continued stress, and it is aimed at increasing the survival chances. This strategy was useful for the generation that experienced the Holocaust, but is no longer useful for the next generations.
Mindfulness: the consciousness of being conscious
The question that we should answer at this point is: what can we do to alleviate or transform these subconscious responses? Obviously, there are many techniques and approaches that may help us with this task, and all of them (well, the ones that are truly useful and real) have something in common: becoming aware and accepting the emotional origin of our conflicts or diseases.
A long time ago, we were able to prove that meditation can trigger genetic and mental changes, and even changes at a molecular level. Mindfulness Exercises allow us to reach a state of heart-brain coherence in order to recognize, observe and access specific mental states that allow us to trigger a natural response of the autonomic nervous system. These exercises, based on bare attention and breathing, are essential to navigate through our inner emotional states. With practice, this new awareness evokes a meditative state that naturally regulates the autonomic nervous system (responsible, among other functions, for the stress response and the healing processes). This regulation of the autonomic nervous system will calm down the limbic system and the amygdala (center of the emotional experience).
As we can see, Mindfulness gives us the tools to naturally regulate our physiology, which, in turn, is regulated predominantly by our emotions. Therefore, both Mindfulness and Transgenerational studies have the same overall goal: make conscious what remains unconscious.