I'm Miriam Ava, founder of ColorsofGratitude.com and ambassador of good taste. I love sharing messages that matter and Gratitude Speaks is a wonderful format where I get to interview extraordinary people. Find all episodes of Gratitude Speaks here.
It's a supreme pleasure to share with you the revolutionary research of my friend Dr. Mario Martinez. He's a clinical neuropsychologist, founder of the Biocognitive Science Institute, and author of the No. 1 bestselling The MindBody Code. Dr. Martinez lectures worldwide on how cultural beliefs impact health, longevity, and success. Fascinating stuff! You'll be hearing a lot more about him this year so consider this edition of Gratitude Speaks your inside-access to the most groundbreaking work that brings together psychology, anthropology, and biology. In essence, mindbody is an expression for the inseparable oneness of mind and body functioning within a cultural history.
I love how universal the biocognitive approach is: It's used to coach business executives; transform relationships; embody centenarian consciousness and ageless beauty; overcome trauma; recognize portals of synchronicity; dissolve abundance phobia... Before we dive into the interview, I'd like to give you a jumpstart on Dr. Martinez's mindbody research. Pick two or three key points that speak to you the most and incorporate them into your life. This is practical wisdom!
- Biocognition: how our culture, beliefs, and immune system all operate in a seamless unity that creates our experience of health and happiness.
- Be aware of the cultural editors (both in your direct environment and society at large).
- Going beyond the pale: Pale is an old-English word for fence/wall. If you go beyond the bounds of your tribe's space, you will no longer be protected by it. In ancient times, this most often resulted in death. These days, going beyond the agreed-upon standards can result in shame, abandonment, or betrayal.
- Archetypal wounds (abandonment, shame, betrayal) and the associated healing fields (loyalty, honor, commitment) that can be engaged to resolve the wound.
- Cultural portals: We're constantly fed how we're supposed to behave at a certain age. The cultural chorus of misery goes something like this: "No kids at 35? You better freeze your eggs." "It's all downhill from 50 onward. And dress appropriately, you're not a young chick anymore." "You're 65, go retire. We don't really need you anymore." Sound any of this familiar? You bet. And it's time to change that. In order to thrive, it's vital to opt out of the man-made cultural portals. My two cents: Once you stop perpetuating those portals, you'll birth a new archetype, homo independus happiensis.
- Create sub-cultures of wellness: We're herd creatures and need to support each other. If the folks in your physical environment are vibing to the "ain't it awful" tune, drop the architects of misery and seek support through books, online communities, conferences, retreats, social media. Get in touch with like-minded people.
- 5 portals of wellness: safety, love, expression, peace, spirit. Learn how to cultivate them in The MindBody Code.
- Portals of synchronicity: Look for out-of-order events. These provide openings to follow new paths.
- Feedforward celebration: You're gonna love this one! Celebrate, by yourself or with loved ones, something good that hasn't happened yet. Wild, right? You don't know what it is but something beautiful will occur in the future and you're celebrating it right here, right now.
- Guardians of the heart: Ah, relationships. Look for the ones that nourish you. Limit or eliminate contact to those that can only handle milligrams of love.
- Pseudo-humbleness: We've been taught to keep our light low, stand in line, deny our magic. Stop doing this. Negating your brilliance doesn't serve anyone.
- Ceilings of abundance: Oh, that's a big one. Feels like a cultural pandemic. Seems as if we can only handle a certain amount of love, joy, abundance... you name it. If we go beyond the set point we grew up with (i.e. that we're accustomed to), we freak out, sabotage, get sad in order to recalibrate the good feeling to the degree we can handle. Lots of us prefer to live in known misery rather than unknown joy. Time to address that.
- Lessons from healthy centenarians: They're all rebels! They don't go to doctors because their doctors are dead; they're future-oriented ("My garden is beautiful right now but wait till you see it in three years!"); they have healthy boundaries ("No, I can't meet you on Saturday morning; that's when I have my sailing lesson"); they have a positive outlook on life and focus on what's great.
- If you have to have a marker, take this one: Middle age starts at 90.
I've included useful links and resources at the end of this interview so be sure to scroll down. Now let's hear directly from the Indiana Jones of healthy centenarians!
1) How do you define gratitude, and what are you grateful for?
Gratitude to me is an exalted human condition that allows receiving without expectations of having to reciprocate. It's the capacity to gracefully embrace what you're receiving as an act that honors your worthiness. It's a humble acceptance of generosity from others. There's research that shows how experiencing gratitude enhances immune function. This challenges the Darwinian model that interprets all emotions as adaptation for the survival of the species.
2) What is art to you?
For me, art is an extraordinary creation that touches my deepest sense of beauty, love, and compassion. It's admiration for something that exceeds my expectations and talents.
3) When did you experience significant personal growth, and how did it impact your perspective on life?
As a clinical neuropsychologist I was taught to identify brain pathology and to believe in the inevitability of genetic sentencing. My greatest moment of personal growth was when healthy centenarians, that I studied worldwide, taught me the causes of health and how the power of cultural beliefs trumps genetic endowment. This awareness gave me the evidence I needed to teach the difference between the pathology of aging vs. the wellness of growing older. At that moment, I entered a portal to the science of hope.
4) What other gems of joy & wisdom would you like to share with us?
YOUR BIOLOGY IS AN EXPRESSION OF YOUR CULTURAL BELIEFS. "But... to avoid perpetuating merely wishful thinking, I won't leave this statement without scientific explanation. Your cultural beliefs predispose you to what you eat, the environment you choose to live, the quality of your relationships, the value of the pleasure you engage, your expression of exalted vs. primitive emotions, your choice of righteous anger vs. chronic anger, growing older vs. aging, mindfulness vs. mindlessness, love vs. fear, optimism vs. pessimism, empowerment vs. helplessness, inclusive compassion vs. exclusive caretaking, assertiveness vs. submissiveness, and much more. The conglomerate of these experiences is mostly what determines gene expression of wellness, or under-immunity (infections, cancer) over-immunity (allergies), and auto-immunity (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus). Most important, although you should never blame yourself for an illness, be mindful of the power you have to improve any condition." I invite you to explore your causes of health.
Gratitude = an exalted human condition that allows receiving without expectations of having to reciprocate
The pathology of aging vs. the wellness of growing older.
The science of hope and how it makes you hot.
Your biology is an expression of your cultural beliefs
To learn more about the brilliant biocognitive way of life, go here.
Nourish your mind body with nuggets of wisdom: Dr. Martinez on Twitter @biocognitive1.
Enjoy Dr. Martinez's research as the featured speaker of ABC Home's Beauty Wellness Wisdom event in this Dispatch.
Learn more about Dr. Christiane Northrup's latest book, Goddesses Never Age, in this Dispatch here and here. She lives, loves, and references Dr. Martinez's research.