We’re accustomed to thinking of evolution as a slow
process. Occasional genetic mutations throw up useful
innovations—think the opposable thumb, neurons, eyes—
each of which took millennia for nature to perfect.
However, evolution today is proceeding using a different
and much faster mechanism: consciousness. You and I can
switch genes on and off with our minds.
This is easy to demonstrate. Think back to a stressful
event. You’ve just turned on the genes that code for stress
hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Now shift your awareness to sense the holiness of the
universe. Pray, give thanks—and you’ll feel calm. You’ve
just used your consciousness to turn those same genes off.
You didn’t need a lab, a drug, or a Ph.D. in epigenetics to
change your gene expression. You accomplished that minor
miracle in seconds, purely through consciousness.
When you choose to pray, meditate, stroke a pet, tap EFT
acupressure points, act kindly, be grateful, feel optimistic,
breathe deeply, walk in nature, or feel compassion for
others, you activate the brain regions associated with
happiness. Throughout time, the brain regions we use
regularly grow, while those we don’t use shrink.
Human beings are thus able to create molecules, cells,
and neurons deliberately—creating matter with mind alone.
No other species throughout evolutionary history has been
able to accomplish this feat of biological self-engineering.
Evolving our bodies does not take millions of years. We
can accomplish it in the space of days, weeks, and months.
A real-life example from my book Mind to Matter (Hay
House, 2018) is the story of Graham Phillips, an Australian
TV reporter who was skeptical about the benefits of
meditation but committed to keeping an eight-week
Before he began, a team of researchers at Monash
University in Melbourne put Phillips through a series of
tests, including measuring the volume of each region of
his brain (particularly those responsible for memory and
learning, motor control, and regulating emotions). After
two weeks, Phillips felt less stressed and better able to
handle challenges. He noticed stress, he reported, but he
didn’t get sucked into it.
After eight weeks, the researchers found something truly
remarkable in Phillips’ hippocampus. When they measured
the volume of nerve cells in the dentate gyrus—the part
of the hippocampus responsible for regulating emotion in
other areas of the brain—they discovered the volume had
increased by 22. 8 percent.
This indicated a dramatically higher volume of the
specific type of neural hardware that is required to navigate
emotional upheavals, which would indeed leave Phillips
more capable of weathering such storms. In addition, the
researchers found Phillips’ cognitive abilities had sizably
increased, as well.
Published research also shows meditation changes the
physical structure of the brain. The authors of a 2015 study
in the professional journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience
report, “Research over the past two decades broadly
supports the claim that mindfulness meditation—practiced
widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of
health—exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental
health, and cognitive performance.”
We are thus evolving our bodies and brains throughout
the course not of eons, but of weeks. We can use our minds
and emotions as epigenetic tools, deliberately changing
gene expression. This feat has been accomplished by no
other species in history. In this way our consciousness,
individually and collectively, creates the next great
How science is uniting body, mind, and spirit
The Next Great Evolutionary Leap
HEALING, SCIENCE, AND SPIRITUALITY
DAWSON CHURCH, PH.D., AUTHOR OF MIND
TO MATTER (HAY HOUSE, 2018) AND THE GENIE
IN YOUR GENES (ENERGY PS YCHOLOG Y PRESS,
2008), IS A GENETIC RESEARCHER AND AN
ORDAINED NEW THOUGHT MINISTER. HE SHARES
SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGHS ON GENETICS AND
SPIRITUALTY AT DAWSONGIFT.COM.