This article was originally published in MASSAGE Magazine, CLICK HERE TO READ condensed Oct. 2008 ON-LINE ARTICLE at www.massagemagazine.com
Andrea Kelly interviewed Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.
There can be much more love and peace on Earth. We, as touch professionals, can share our knowledge and teach parents the importance of providing a safe and positive environment combined with nurturing touch and compassionate communication, so that our children may thrive.
Science is showing that adults are engineers of our children’s future DNA potential—even after birth. Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., is the pioneer of this new science, and his breakthrough studies on the cell membrane are providing us with the new science of epigenetics, the study of the continuum of DNA development after birth. Lipton is a cell biologist by training, author of The Biology of Belief and co-author of Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future. He taught cell biology at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and went on to perform pioneering studies at Stanford University’s School of Medicine.
Lipton’s studies on the cell membrane showed that this outer layer of the cell “was an organic homologue of a computer chip, the cell’s equivalent of a brain,” according to his website (www.brucelipton.com). His research “revealed that the environment, operating though the membrane, controlled the behavior and physiology of the cell, turning genes on and off. His discoveries, which ran counter to the established scientific view that life is controlled by the genes, presaged one of today’s most important fields of study, the science of epigenetics.”
He and I spoke twice about the new field of epigenetics, as well as DNA selection and development at the time of conception, in utero and after birth.
During our interview, Lipton and I talked about our children being our richest resource and, therefore, how important it is to teach them to love and live in a harmonious co-existence with our global neighbors. Our children are our future, after all. “Evolution based on love rather than fear is emerging, and we are its co-creators,” Lipton explained.
The Triad Family Model
For going on four decades, the World Institute for Nurturing Communication has passionately and responsibly taught infant massage. We recently held an infant massage instructors certification class, and our students included nurses from neonatal intensive care, labor and delivery; a social worker; an occupational therapist; a physical therapist; and a great-grandmother.
Our educators stress the importance of extending love through practicing nurturing touch for the parent-and-infant bonding-and-attachment process.
However, with Lipton’s discoveries and research over the past five years came more knowledge and, therefore, additional responsibilities. Lipton’s research inspired us, as an organization, to want to improve and deliver a more complete program for family attachment. Attachment can be fragile, and one might have a better chance to keep the family connection that may endure a lifetime if properly nurtured.
We now look beyond infant massage and teach the Triad Family Model, for healthy family development that may last a lifetime, by providing nurturing touch, a safe and positive environment, and compassionate communication. Together, these three elements may maximize a baby’s intended genetic potential.
“Genetics are not final at birth,” Lipton said. “The continuum of DNA development and reaching maximum potential has everything to do with environment before and after birth.”
The Triad Family Model gives a more complete picture of the ingredients necessary for healthy family development that goes beyond nurturing touch.
Environmental influences, such as what we think, the food we eat and our emotional state, can modify our genes without changing their basic blueprint. “The modifications can be passed to future generations the same as DNA blueprints are passed on,” Lipton said. “Therefore, we can alter known family traits that are undesirable after birth by changing our thinking and living a more positive lifestyle.”
For example, we may be predisposed to certain diseases in our family. By changing our eating habits, thinking positively and eliminating stress, we may determine a much better outcome or eliminate the negative predisposition completely.
Massage, in the form of simple nurturing touch, may assist to relax and eliminate stress, while encouraging words can soothe the human spirit at any age. Therefore, the World Institute for Nurturing Communication teaches nurturing touch and games for the growing child that may be adapted throughout one’s life as he or she grows to become a toddler, preschooler, preteen, teen, young adult, a couple, a senior or throughout the hospice process. Sometimes touch is the most loving expression of goodbye.
Reaching across the ocean
I was recently asked to join Child Life Specialist Morgan Livingstone, through the Daisy Cancer Foundation, to assist a group of adults in Kenya, East Africa, who wanted to become certified infant massage instructors to help the at-risk children and infants in their country.
The Sally Test Center in Eldoret, Kenya, was within a pediatric hospital setting, meaning we could observe and teach firsthand the practice of song–and-dance games coupled with infant massage and nurturing touch for the growing child. It lifted the children’s spirits and they looked forward to this daily. It also let them forget their trauma for the time they were fully participating in the play activity at hand. As a result, the children were less stressed, more relaxed and quite happy.
There were many parents in Eldoret who came daily to the Sally Test Center to help their children by learning our World Institute for Nurturing Communication infant massage routine and adaptations for the growing child. It was a very humbling experience. We also shared the importance of compassionate communication to build the human spirit and how important environment is for a child’s healthy development.
We certified 17 dedicated Kenyan students who were already working with children in a variety of professional capacities. Once again, it is the quality of life that was pursued. They too wanted their children to thrive and not just survive.
The students, parents and children of Africa will always have a place in my heart and soul, as they taught me so much while working with them. I am currently documenting my journey so I can share it with the global community in order to encourage other certified infant massage instructors and touch professionals to travel, sharing this work while learning from the cultures served.
Senior touch The need for nurturing touch and compassionate communication does not have an age limit. That is why we say the Triad Family Experience may help to transition the family bond throughout a lifetime. I’d like to share a personal experience to demonstrate the power of the Triad Family Experience at any age.
My mother, Vietta Jean Kelly, at the age of 86 experienced three devastating strokes—and survived. Thereafter, she needed professional, around-the-clock care. Although my mother could not talk easily at first, we managed to communicate through touch, as I had just learned infant massage. I asked her if I could practice the routines on her. She loved the nurturing touch routines and came to have favorite strokes and songs, just as babies and toddlers do.
The gentle touch routines and songs became our hello and goodbye coupled with the words “I love you and until we meet again” as I took leave out the door.
My mother soaked up the nurturing touch routines and loved the chants and songs that accompanied them. It not only relaxed and soothed her, it also lifted her spirits grandly. We transformed the environment of the recreation hall at the care facility by the simple act of playing the piano. I played her favorite song on the piano that was my parents’ song, back in the day. It was a love song titled “More,” to which they loved to dance.
She closed her eyes and revisited wondrous memories. Many wonderful memories can be evoked through nurturing touch, loving words and music. Mom closed her eyes and was by transported down memory lane. She transcended her wheelchair and was once again dancing, in her heart, with her beloved William, as she swayed back and forth with her eyes closed, filled with sweet memories.
Embrace the future
Teaching the simple yet profound practice of the World Institute for Nurturing Communication touch routines, compassionate communication and creating a safe and positive environment has become my life’s work.
We are grateful for Lipton’s scientific research—and for his encouragement and support, which have given us new direction to better serve our global family communities. As he says, “Nature does need nurturing to reach maximum potential.”
Lipton’s work shows that all the cells of our bodies are affected by our thoughts. He describes the precise molecular pathways through which this occurs: The brain is at maximum intake from birth to about 11 or 12 years old, so it is paramount to expose babies and children to as many positive, creative avenues as possible.
Parents should not only create a safe environment, but choose books, art, music and expressions of dance that may inspire children. (Think about it: If we expose children to toy soldiers and battleships, might they go off to war one day?) As Lipton notes, the visual environment stimulates the imagination.
As a world community, we can live harmoniously and embrace a brighter and more promising future for the human race starting with one family, village and one nation—and reaching across the oceans with love and compassion.
Andrea Kelly is Director/communications/marketing of Infant Massage WINC. She is a former regional sales director for two health/life insurance companies. She specialized in large group and union businesses. Her motto is “Good better best, never let it rest, until the good is better and the better best!” For more information about the institute and Infant Massage WINC (dba for International Association of Infant Massage), visit www.infantmassagewinc.com