We inherit a gift wrapped parcel from our parents in the form of heredity. It is a bundle of infinite possibilities governed by the laws of probability. There is no way we can ever manifest its total potential but everything that we will ever need is there in this package in the form of genes. The package starts unfolding right from the moment of conception and continues after birth right through life. In the womb the genes unfold to create the baby with its unique constitution or Prakruti. It carries our strengths, weaknesses and all our talent.

In animals the surroundings dictate the characteristics that will manifest in each individual. These are known as epigenetic factors. They decide which of the genes will fire and which will remain dormant. As the drama unfolds the animal grows matures, reproduces, creates a few responsible adults and eventually ages and dies. The genes define the strengths, weaknesses and inherent threats to the individual animal. The animal does not have much of a choice. The environment takes most of the decisions. The individual uses whatever is given, to the best of its ability and gets through life. When it comes to human beings however, the story is quite different; we can to a large extent take control of the way in which our genes manifest in real life.

The most powerful epigenetic factor in human beings is free will; willingness to act.

In order to take control it is important to understand how genetics works. There are two processes to be understood methylation and acetylation. Methylation switches on genes. Genes that develop secondary sexual characters like facial and body hair, ovulation and onset of menses are switched on at puberty with methylation. Methylation also switches on and off the talent genes in each individual as they are needed.

The second process to be understood is known as Acetylation. This regulates the power and efficacy of the gene. In short methylation is like an on/off switch and acetylation is like the volume control. The trigger for both these processes is the environment. 

Adverse circumstances are the most effective trigger for both methylation and acetylation.

This understanding changed my perspective to adverse circumstances and to life in general. I understood great people say that each problem or challenge is an opportunity. Adverse circumstances are an opportunity to switch on my genetic potential and to enhance my talent. The more challenges I expose myself to the more talent genes are switched on. The more practice I put in the better I get at it. I can dictate which gene is switched on and also how powerfully it manifests itself.

In case I don’t voluntarily take on challenges, life tries its best to help to manifest my potential. It keeps throwing problems and challenges at me; after all nature too wants me to grow.

My DNA is not my destiny it is my tool kit, the means with which I can manifest the destiny of my choice. 

In addition to adverse circumstances our passion, liking, love, enthusiasm, perseverance and the joy we draw from working on anything contribute in a big way towards manifesting my potential.

I am very excited about the fact that I have control over my DNA; my life is not predetermined, I am at the steering wheel.

However I know that there is a whole bunch of people out there who only think of diseases when they hear the word ‘genetics’. Often we forget to share the credit of our achievements with heredity, but the moment we are diagnosed with a disease we want to find out which of our parents was responsible. As our DNA carries the genes of our strengths it also carries our weaknesses. Each prakruti has a predilection for particular diseases. But barring a few congenital diseases we do have a say in the matter.

We do not inherit the disease itself; we more often inherit the addictions, diet and lifestyle that lead to the disease. If we know our prakruti and the diseases that it is prone to we can design a diet and lifestyle that suits our prakruti best, thus avoiding imbalances that steer us towards those diseases.

Treating any imbalance at the stage of discomfort with non-invasive solutions like home remedies, therapeutic yogasan and exercise or acupressure is the second precaution that we can take. We can work on our weaknesses with the help of exercise, yogasan, pranayama and proper diet and lifestyle.

Finally friends, there is nothing as good as proper diet, lifestyle, exercise at the physical level. At the mental level what works best is a good hobby, warmth, love and a sense of belonging. At the spiritual level the best thing to have is a passion for a cause bigger than I, me and mine.

What we get from heredity is the tool kit; what we do with it defines our destiny.

Dr. Chandrashekhar Desai. Co-founder, HPS Wellness

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