Your Cells Are Listening

Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at The Edge. Today I speak with Dr. Sondra Barrett. Sondra is a nationally recognized speaker on mind-body medicine. She earned her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Illinois Medical School, and completed post-doctoral training in immunology and hematology at the University of California Medical School. She has taught at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and The California Institute of Integral Studies. With Sounds True, Sondra has a new book, Secrets of Your Cells: Awakening the Body’s Intelligence, in which she explores our body’s cells from perspectives both scientific and sacred. In this episode of Insights at The Edge, Sondra and I spoke about her background in cellular biology. We also talked about how our intelligence lives within every cell of our body through the fabric of our cytoskeleton. And finally, and most importantly, we talked about the lessons: lessons on living that Sondra has learned from tuning to her cells—what she calls our greatest living ancestors. Here’s my very intriguing and provocative conversation with Sondra Barrett.

TS: Sondra, from reading your book what I felt was, here’s a woman who has fallen in love with the cell. Now first of all, do think that’s fair to say that you’ve fallen with the cell?

Sondra Barrett: Absolutely! In fact before this conversation I was spending some time with them and realizing that I really had fallen in love with them, and I can have a real relationship with them. It may sound crazy but…you know one of the names I wanted to give the book was Romancing Your Cells.

TS: Okay, so tell me what you mean that you were spending some time with your cells. I mean aren’t we always spending…that’s all we have is our cells. What do you mean by that?

SB: That’s true. Well, I went and took some time to meditate and basically asked my cells what they wanted me to say. What was the most important to them and one of the reasons I say this is that it brings me back to when I was writing this book and teaching a workshop at Noetic Sciences. I was having a really hard time teaching the workshop because I was so into my head. You know, I was in the science mode. I went into the garden on Sunday morning and said, “I’ve got to shift something because I’m not revealing the cells from their spiritual perspective. I’m not sharing my heart. I’m just in an intellectual space and that’s not my experience of the cells.” So I sat in the garden and went through one of my rituals, which was to say thanks for being here. Thanks for being my support team. I hear this, where it’s coming from I don’t know, but what I hear is, “You finally got it. Thanks.”

Then this conversation that is coming from somewhere else other than my intellect was telling how the cells have been carrying me along to transmit or send this information out. It took me, you know, to some place else that this wasn’t possible except people talk to plants, people talk to guides; guides give them information from outside of their intellect, and I was able to go back into my workshop and come from a deeper place. The place of really being in love with my cells and being in love with life. I was a little a nervous about doing this podcast and you know, what can I say? How am I going to answer questions? And it was like, no, remember who we are. So yeah, they’re always here, but are we in conversation with them is a whole other story.

TS: Well first of all I just want to thank you for speaking from your experience and being willing to speak vulnerably and transparently because I really appreciate that and I think we need more of that. So I just want to begin by thanking you for that.

SB: You’re welcome.

TS: And I want to continue on that vein, which is help me understand how you experience intelligence or wisdom coming from your cells, not coming from what you’re describing as the intellectual processing of life.

SB: So you’re asking not to scientifically describe their intelligence, but how I experience it?

TS: Yeah. Let’s start there.

SB: OK. Well, sort of to bridge the science because I think that’s really important for me and for your listeners, the cells’ intelligence is embedded in their fabric, in their innards—inside. It’s their strings. So if we think of our cells as being constructed of strings, what we know about strings is they resonate with sound, stretching and moving them influences how the strings impact the cells and what the cells decide to do. So how I access that intelligence is that I work with sound, and I can work with sound and it takes me to a more peaceful place. I can do qi-gong. I practice movement. The practices that I talk about in the book are all practices I’ve been doing and teaching for basically decades, I just never had an explanation of how it might work in the body. I just did them because I felt better for doing them. Well now I know where cellular intelligence resides—at least we think that this week—and how I access that place is that I’m doing some of these practices that make me feel more whole, and get me out of my doldrums and my depressions and everything else. And I think, again because I do have that scientific inclination, because I know there’s a physical structure now that can be accessed with many healing practices—especially sound and movement—it convinces me that what I’m doing isn’t a waste of time even if I think I’m wasting time. What are you humming M for? Go to work!

TS: I’d like to understand more about the strings inside the cell. Help me, take me inside the cell and help me understand this cellular intelligence as you see it. As you experience it.

SB: OK. Well first of all, for years we thought the genes were the intelligence and Bruce Lipton has done an amazing job to teach people and excite people about their cells. His perspective is that it’s the receptors on the cell membrane that are receiving information that’s the intelligence, and you know I was thinking about that yesterday and realizing that’s the male scientist perspective that it’s on the outside of the cell where intelligence resides. In fact, Donald Ingber, a scientist at Harvard at least fifteen years ago had written about the fabric of the cell. He called it the architecture of life. What he basically showed was that the receptors don’t work…receptors are antenna, they’re picking up information but what responds to the antenna is this fabric of tubes and strings and microtubules that runs throughout the cell.

Now, when I learned about cells we heard the term, protoplasm, it was like there’s gel in the cell and that’s all we knew. Now with new technologies people were able to show, no, there’s this underlying webbing that connects the outer to the inner and that the mechanical tension on that fabric or on those cells—the forces on those cells—influences what the cells choose to do. So what Ingber showed, which to me was life changing for me to read about this, what he showed in a dish…if you put cells in a plastic dish and you’re trying to grow them, when the cells are stretched out they express one set of genes, the genes to keep on reproducing themselves. When the cells let go of some of that tension, they’re not holding so attached to the dish, they start maturing. So the cells have the same genes in them, the only thing that has changed is the tension of their fabric. And then when cells fully let go of their tension another gene is expressed, you know, the suicide gene—death.

So purely on a physical level we’ve seen that mechanical stresses on our cells influence basically their decision-making. Which genes they express, and then of course which activities are they doing based on the structure of the cells. You know, I look at it in terms of real life. Am I stressed out, strung out? Am I balled up? What does our posture do to our cells? What does letting go do to our cells? How do we put that into real life? So I don’t know if that answers some of the question…

TS: You’re saying a lot of different things and I want to see if I can tease out some of them. So you mentioned the receptors on the outside of the cell that Bruce Lipton has said are very important in cellular intelligence and you said that was a masculine form. So how does the receptors interrelate with what you’re describing here as the strings and the level of tension inside the cell?

SB: You know, when I listened yesterday to your podcast with Bruce, that’s why I was thinking, “Oh he’s thinking the external”, which is where we all start ,and a feminine perspective on science may be the inside, you know, the hidden. So the receptors of the cell, just like he has said, and Candice Pert have said, they’re receiving information. They’re receiving the chemical information, the molecular information. If we’re stressed the body is going to be churning out a lot of stress molecules: epinephrine, cortisone, etc. The receivers on the cell—the antenna on the cell—will attach to those molecules. It’s like the radio, we’ve got these receivers or these antennas, but until we turn the knob and change things inside the cell there’s no response. So you’ve got these receivers, I’ve got all of this adrenalin on the surface of my cell but the cell has choice making in that at some deep level in terms of what makes a cell respond. Just receiving the information doesn’t automatically make the cell respond. You see what I’m saying? The receptors are connected to the fabric and maybe it’s become semantics whether the brain is on the outside of the cell. To me the brain is on the inside of the cell. Because with all of the receptors loading up the surface membrane that isn’t all it takes for the cell to respond. If the cell’s fabric doesn’t respond, there is nothing happening.

TS: : Yeah. Well, whether the brain of the cell is on the inside or the outside or both, it’s a pretty big leap I think still for most people to believe that intelligence isn’t located in the brain but that it’s located IN THE CELLS! That’s already a pretty big leap for most people, wouldn’t you say?

SB: Well it’s a different kind of intelligence isn’t it? I mean the intelligence that operates us is purely at a cellular level. I mean each cell is a community in itself, and then the community of cells holds us as living sacred beings. I think if we think about people, most people think of intelligence in the brain in our heads. Well the brain does a lot of the orchestration of sending out molecules and things like that, but who’s running the brain? I mean where is mind? Which is another quality, to me, of intelligence. Where is consciousness? How does that influence us at a physical level? You may be familiar with Stuart Hameroff’s work, he’s down at the University of Arizona. What Hameroff and Penrose have basically tried to show us, and I think fairly convincingly, is that actually the fabric, the microtubules in the cells, are the place where consciousness flows, so that there’s some more evidence for people who need it that intelligence and consciousness can actually be found from to cell to cell.

TS: Now I think it might help our listeners though to get a little more familiar with how you fell in love with the cells, your cellular romance if you will. So maybe you could briefly give us that background story on your romance.

SB: Sure. Love to. I was trained as a biochemist, so in going for a PhD basically I’m working with isolated chemicals and trying to understand actually how the influenza virus infects cells, but it was from a purely chemical perspective. I went and took a post-doc in immunology and hematology at UC San Francisco and I chose a project that was as closely related to biochemistry as possible because I didn’t really know cells, I knew chemistry. So the project I chose was one that worked with looking at little boys who had a genetic disease in which they were dying of infection. My job was to figure out why. Why weren’t these cells working? So I immediately had to start looking at cells under the microscope and once I did that it was like this light went on. One, it was amazing for me to see these little human white blood cells. If I put them on a microscope slide and throw in a couple of plastic beads, these cells know that there’s something strange there and you see the cells moving under the microscope, going for these plastic beads. It was totally incredible for me. It was just a whole new world that not only did I fall in love with cells, it took me more to: God invented these. He, she, they, designed these. These are pretty wise warriors that know what to do. It isn’t just an accident of biological evolution. So that aha moment of really seeing them under the microscope. Seeing everything under the microscope changed my perception, for sure, of life.

TS: Now I‘m curious Sondra, it seems that there’s an underlying assumption in your work—and tell me if this is an assumption or if this is something that you feel really solid behind or what—which is that what we discover about an individual cell we can say about an individual human organism, that they’re analogous in some way. Is it fair to say that is an assumption in your work?

SB: That is an assumption. Basically that I’m projecting that the cellular behavior…

TS: Well I’m glad you said it, and not me.

SB: No, totally. It’s like I could see everything they were doing. I’m projecting into another language: one of human life and spiritual life. So it’s definitely an assumption.

TS: Okay, and help me feel comfortable with why this assumption works for you. I mean I understand that it works in the world of poetry, but you’re a scientist. So how does making an assumption like that—there’s a parallel between the function of the cell and the function of the human being—how does that work for you that you’re comfortable with it?

SB: Maybe some of this comes from my back story or my work of spending years and years doing things under the microscope. In the early days of my doing science I was developing diagnostic tools of human leukemias. What I observed was, and I’m sure this is one of the turning points, when you look at those cancer cells under the microscope they’re absolutely chaotic in what they look like, how they develop. There’s no order at all compared to a normal white blood cell. I then leaped to, oh well those cells create chaos in the body and they create chaos for the person, and they create chaos for that person’s family. So I was looking at a lot of this whole concept of form and function. That what cells look like influences what they do and extrapolating that each stage of what they do in terms of…a perfect example is the receptor story. The receptor story is so well known to a lot of people. If we think about these molecules or the receptors on the surface of the cell, those molecules or proteins on the surface of the cell, must embrace the messages, they’re just not accidental. So there’s a real connection between molecules that fit each other.

So each step along the way they’ve got to embrace, and I started reading Teilhard de Chardin who talked about if there wasn’t embrace in the molecules, there couldn’t be embrace in us higher-ups: love couldn’t exist. So I began reading more of the literature that theologians were writing about biology, and each time I would think about like cell sanctuary. I study science and well, how did that first cell get formed? Well, molecules had to come together and form… Donald Ingber was one of the first people I became aware of who talked about life needing a place. So until we have the molecules that formed a place for the energy of life and the innards of the cell to form we don’t have life. That’s creating sanctuary. The molecules are creating sanctuary for life to occur.

So each time I was learning about another part of the cell, it became easier for me to see how that was so in real life. And because I have had an experience of the imagination and shamanic practices, and other ways of knowing ourselves, it became easier and easier for me to make that wild leap. That what the cells do, they really are our teachers if we pay attention. Everything they do for life, we need. Everything they need, we need. I tend to like to translate it into a more sacred literature just because that’s who I am at this point in my life. I wouldn’t have done it 20 years ago I am sure.

TS: Well let’s take the leap with you. So we’re going to leap with you and we’re going to say that we can learn from our cells about being a human being, and we can learn from their wisdom. Tell us what some of the most important lessons are that you think we can learn from ourselves?

SB: Well, one of the most important lessons I think is the letting go. Again, going back to that intelligence of the cell. When the cells are fully attached to this dish, they’re going to keep on repeating their patterns. When we’re fully attached to a certain way of life, we keep on repeating ourselves. We’re not changing. If we let go…in Buddhism they’ll say let go of your attachments and you’ll become more spiritually mature. Well I see that in the cells. When the cells let go of some of their attachments—they’re not so rigid in their holding on—they now become mature, because cells can only basically exert either/or. They’re either reproducing—attached to the old program—or they’re maturing and then they had to let go of that old program and turn on another one. All the programs were there. Then when they fully let go of any of their old programs, they program cell death: they die.

Where, to me, this has become really important in having conversation with a friend who leads cancer support groups. He’s now in his sixth year of being in remission from pretty advanced lymphoma, and I had this conversation with him about what he sees in people who go into remission when it’s not expected or how did you go into remission when the doctors didn’t expect you to at all? What he tends to see—and I don’t want to make people wrong who don’t go into remission, and I’m not saying it’s all a question of what’s in your mind and letting go—but what he had seen was that the people who really let go of something big in their life, those people went into remissions that were not expected. So when I started having a conversation with him about the cells it was like, “Oh, well when the cells fully let go they’re turning on another gene program, which has those cells die.” So the question I have, it would be an interesting research protocol somehow, is it possible when we let go of something really important that is holding us into certain patterns that perhaps the cells that are holding onto the cancer pattern can receive the message to let go? We don’t need that pattern anymore. We don’t need you to grow anymore. We need you to program death.

TS: Now let me ask you a question, Sondra. If I was doing a type of letting go practice, let’s say I was doing some kind of breathing where I was exhaling and really visualizing not holding onto anything at all—so I engage in a deep practice like that. What would be happening as I was practicing in that way in my cells? How are my cells responding as I’m doing that type of practice?

SB: Great question! This is extrapolation. How I suspect your cells are responding is that they’re in a state of resonance. In a state of peacefulness. All of them. So there isn’t a tug on them that’s saying that you should be struggling about x, y. or z. In that letting go, all of our cells go into this place of playing the same song. There’s a peacefulness that if you’re in that letting go practice, I’m sure you’re aware of. Then what’s happening at the cellular level? Their strings that are inside of them are vibrating all in the same rhythm. All of the other cells nearby are vibrating at that same rhythm. They start training each other into this state of peacefulness. When we let go, we’re more peaceful. So what’s happening also—let’s not leave out our receptors—is that in that state of peacefulness our molecular pharmacy is changing. The molecules that also send peacefulness, we have more of those available than if half of our brain is struggling, and our liver is struggling, and suddenly we’re just into that, thank God I’m here! The cells applaud you when that happens. They say, ”Yeah you got here! Come back again!”

TS: Now one of the things that I’m not quite clear on is that you talked about cell death, when the cells are no longer attached. Can you help me understand that?

SB: Sure. Well first of all, most of us are usually afraid of dying but a natural process of cell life is that they die and in normal cell death some people say it is apoptosis, I call it apotosis. It’s a very gentle process. It’s assisted suicide if you will. It’s also the ultimate recycle. Because in natural cell death, the cells are sort of blebbing off and all of the pieces that can be reused are reused. The rest goes in our pee and our poop and we don’t need it anymore. So our cells have a program for death, natural death. When do our cells normally use it? When we’re in the embryo stage, and you can picture we once had fins, what gives us fingers is cell death in that place in between our fingers. If in the developing brain a neuron in the brain doesn’t connect to other cells it programs death. So in development again—embryologically, when the thymus, which is the seed of the immune system or regulator of the immune system—if there are cells in that thymus that will attack us, those cells are programmed to die. So it’s a natural process. Our normal cells will reproduce about 50 times and then they’re programmed to die—programmed to recycle. It’s like, now give up your ingredients to somebody else who needs it. Does that clarify the question?

TS: Yeah, that’s helping me. I guess I’m trying to understand as you were talking about cancer and the power of letting go and especially letting go of something huge in your life, and of course I’ve heard this from other people that I’ve interviewed. The power of forgiving someone at a very, very deep level—something we’ve been holding onto or some other kind of burden we’ve been carrying that we’re quite bitter about—that there can be profound healing effects when people let go. I’m trying to understand, though, when a cell dies, is that positive, negative, can it be both and how that relates, let’s say, to a situation like cancer and cancer cells?

SB: Well in cancer, what we know about cancer now is that a cancer cell needs multiple genetic changes before it becomes a cancer cell. It’s not one gene change that makes a cancer cell. What we have learned in some of the cancers, some of the gene changes relate to, oh these cells don’t die. They’ve become immortal. They’re expressing gene programs that don’t let them die when they should, and can we change that gene program to one that facilitates their death or facilitates their growing up? In the days when I had a laboratory at UC San Francisco, my last couple of years of research was seeing can we make cancer cells, basically the question I was asking is can we make cancer cells die or grow up? Do we have to always use cytotoxic chemicals that are killing more than the cancer cells? So I was able, in the laboratory, to basically take human cancer cells and convince them, if you will, with normal chemicals like vitamin A to change some of their expression.

We didn’t know as much about genes then as we do now, but I saw that we can take these cancer cells from a person, out of their body, put it in the laboratory and give them a non-toxic chemical and now these cancer cells that only chose immature properties and only showed a rigidity in their physical structures, now suddenly some of those cells showed properties that they’d become mature cells. They had shifted some of their abilities, if you will. They grew up. So the question becomes now, can we shift them further? One, to either reinstate the program for cell death, or turn off the program that says they have to keep on reproducing themselves. I mean what we’re seeing in the cancer world, not separate from understanding the cell, is that scientists are showing that if we change the environment—again, a lot of this is in the test tube—that the cancer cells are in, it changes what they do.

For instance, Valerie Weaver at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that if she put breast cancer cells on a rigid environment that they kept on expressing breast cancer genes, but if she put them on the equivalent of a soft pillow, Jell-O, they no longer expressed their cancer genes. So to me the world of helping people heal with cancer, we can extrapolate what’s happening in the world of our cells. One of my pathways was to start working in groups with people with cancer even though I am a scientist. We don’t make people feel guilty by saying, well if you only were less rigid, or if you only let go of your attachments then your cancer would disappear. I think that’s always a danger of saying well, if you would only let go of something big. You haven’t done it, so you’re going to die of your disease. How do we talk about this so it empowers people? Where do I let go of my rigidity? What am I holding on to that I don’t need to hold on to? Does that make me feel better? Does the cancer disappear or not? How do I feel better? Going into that deep letting go place you’re talking about. We feel better there. Does that reverse our diseases? Who knows?

TS: Now one thing that I’m not clear about is that you’re talking about how cells can die or they can grow up or mature, you’ve used that phrase. I’m a little unclear. What does that mean, for a cell to grow up or mature?

SB: OK. Great question! Let’s look at the immune cells to start with. If a white blood cell is given a signal that there is a virus in the area, the first thing that family of immune cells is going to do is to keep on reproducing so that we have lots and lots of immune cells, lymphocytes, to be able to recognize that virus. So there’s that reproductive phase, but now if we want that immune cell to be able to really do its work, instead of its work of reproduction, it had to make a whole of other kinds of chemicals and signals to be able to destroy the virus or virus-infected cells. So that’s a property of a mature cell. The lymphocyte goes through a reproductive phase to make more of what we need, and then it’s like, okay we have to stop reading the reproductive program and we read the program of time to grow up. Time to be the adult. What’s your purpose? Why are you here? Oh, my purpose is to produce all of these molecules and signals that are going to eradicate the virus infection. The immune cell has the programs to reproduce, and it has the programs to mature, but it can only do one or the other. One at a time. So it turns off the reproductive cycle, now I’m grown up. Now I’ve got to do my job and then when I’m finished doing my job, maybe me as that cell is going to program that it’s time to leave and make space for other cells. And I program death.

TS: So letting go of our attachments, letting go in a big way. That’s one of the things that the cells can teach us—how valuable that is. What else would you say we could learn from our cells?

SB: Well, I think one of the other places is I go into this place of understanding resonance and being able to entrain ourselves in a state of peacefulness. And you know, with Sounds True it’s not surprising that one of the things I’ve learned from the cells is that sound helps our cells go that place of peacefulness. And when I started working with sound, I’ve got to be very honest, I was super uncomfortable because I never knew how it worked and I didn’t want to get lost into the physics of sound. But when I would work with sound in groups of people, like use sound to go to a part of your body that feels pain, people would get it and they’d say, “I could really feel that place in my body,” or “I’m still practicing with the sound and sound is the only thing that relieves my pain.”

It’s that basic elemental design of our cells that now, again I keep on going back to that same structure, that same fabric, because we have in our cells now this place that we know where sound works. It isn’t just changing the brain waves; it isn’t just getting us up to dance. We have this structure that resonates with sound and what we know is that if you start drumming the nearby drumhead is going to start responding to that and a tuning fork is going to respond to other sounds that are in the same sort of vibe, and that our cells have a way to respond to sound. To me that becomes more important probably than anything else, because it’s showing me that a lot of healing strategies that have evolved over ages that might look like now new-agey kinds of things, yeah but we have a structure in our cells that can respond to it. We’re not just saying that sound is good for you.

For me, who has been an eternal skeptic, it made me see that—it made it more real. It made these healing practices like qi-gong or yoga…we’ve got structures that respond to that. We’re not just saying that because people have done it for thousands of years that that’s why it’s good. The modern person, I think, wants to have someone show him or her how it works in the cell. Show me how it works. You can experience the sound by playing music that makes you feel good or slows you down or speeds you up or depresses you, and it’s not just what we’re getting through our ears and our brains. It’s like I can imagine my cells responding to music that puts me into a sacred place. Where’s mantra being responded to at a cellular level? Oh well, we’ve got the place.

TS: Now what you’re saying is very wild, Sondra. So I want to see if I understand it. So what you’re saying is that in all of the cells of my body, these cells have a fabric and that fabric is made of strings and those strings are resonating with sound, such that all the cells in my body could be coming into some type of peacefulness or resonant state and that’s happening at the cellular level, and we know that now because the intelligence lives in these strings?

SB: Yep! You got it! Now why is that wild?

TS: That’s pretty…I think that it makes me have the experience that all the cells in my body are listening in a certain kind of way, and I think that’s a wild thought.

SB: Well…I’ll tell you an interesting experience about listening, because I’ve certainly used the cells as my teachers and when I hear somebody what usually happens is that my mind goes into the critic. I’m kind of criticizing them, judging them. I’ve got this conversation going on in my head. The awareness of cells are listening all of the time…I started paying attention to, am I listening or am I having fourteen other conversations going on? It has brought me back to, can I just listen? So, perfect example, and I do that much better now. Yesterday, a friend came into my office and she saw the book. I received the galleys on Monday, and she saw the book and the first thing she did was criticize it because she’s been in publishing. And my tendency has always…

TS: Well clearly we don’t want to listen to her. Clearly we’re not listening to her. All of my cells are saying NO!

SB: Definitely not! But usually I become defensive and I react or I’ve got all of this stuff going on in my head, and I just sat there and said, “Okay, that’s what she does. I know she’s a critic.” She left my office and I thought, “Okay, really let it go.” I must have been in such a different state because a couple of hours later she came back into my office and said, “Congrats on your book! It’s really good. I’m sorry I was so critical.” I didn’t do anything differently except that I didn’t go into my internal reactive mode. I was listening, so all of my cells…I must’ve set up a different field, if you will, that she could change. When I shared the story with a mutual friend, she was shocked because she knows this woman never apologizes. Getting into the habit of listening has changed my field. I mean the other part of the cellular fabric is that they’re just not responding to what’s outside. They’re the resonators. They’re also sending out…like the Heartmath work talks about the electromagnetic field of our brain and our heart. Well, each cell has that. Each cell has their heart and is sending out a field of energy that allows somebody else to respond differently, starting with our cells, ourself.

TS: Now you’re saying something very interesting to me here. Do the cells in our heart send out a different magnetic field than cells in different parts of our body? Cells in the brain or cells in tissues, etc.

SB: Well, according to Heartmath, they’re a much bigger magnetic field. So they may have more power to…I’m just sort of thinking out loud to your question, since they’re muscle cells they’re going to have more of this fabric than say liver cells, meaning they’ve got more strings to play. So they may send out more of those messages and more of those vibes in the field. The Heartmath work, the work of Paul Pearsall who talks about the mind and the heart and that people who get heart transplants, some percentage of them pick up some of the behaviors—at least short term—of the person who gave them their heart. Is it in the field of those cells? Is it in the intelligence of the cells? Are they still beating out that? I’d say yes, obviously. I think there are cells that have more power because they have more strings.

One of the practices I teach, which is probably the most important, is this gratitude practice where ultimately you’re getting to your heart and you’re remembering an experience of gratitude or feeling grateful for something that someone else did. People can get to that experience. It’s an embodied experience and saying, “Well let’s use that heart to send out the communication to all of the other cells.” That heart that is in a place of gratitude can set up all of the other cells listening to the same story. Oh, OK, that’s kind of a cool idea. I can do that. I’ve done it when I’ve really needed to. I’ve seen it useful…I was scheduled to teach in all of the places that were hit after 9/11. Not something I wished I had to do because it was going into warfare and I was totally strung out in terms of, “Oh my God! How am I going to teach health professionals to come to a place of peacefulness when I’m freaked out myself by what’s happened? What do I have to give them?”

You know the insight was to give them the simple gratitude exercise, get them into their heart. Does that bring them to a place of peacefulness? Because I didn’t think science was going to help them. I was really surprised to see…you know it’s different when you’re working with 10 people in a group, but when you’re working 200 in a hotel room I’m always wondering what people are going to get when they’re in a room full of strangers, especially after the attack that we had in this country? For me, I’ve learned some things that even under those conditions I was going into my heart, into that place and getting my whole body to be in an entrained state or a resonant state. I’m in a state of peacefulness at least during the hours that I’m teaching. I could at least transmit that or send that to these people who need it. They don’t need science or CEU’s, they needed support.

TS: Now Sondra, you said something that I was unfamiliar with. I’d never really heard, actually, that there were strings and this fabric inside the cells, but that our heart cells have more strings than other cells in our body.

SB: I’m just guessing. I mean guessing because they’re muscles and the muscles are strings, basically. Muscle proteins, actin and myosin, the things that cause…you know if you think about cells whose work is to contract and relax? That’s that mechanical tension again on the strings of the cell. The strings aren’t just in the fabric of the cell for a heart cell. The heart cell has all of this musculature that creates its structure. I’d never thought about the question until you asked it. So there’s definitely more structures that are able to respond to sound, to emitting electromagnetic fields.

TS: Now Sondra, there’s actually a lot of things that I want to talk with you about so we’re going to have another conversation soon. So that’ll have to happen, but in the meanwhile, just to wrap up this first part of our conversation, I wonder if you think that there’s any danger, if you will, in studying cells, seeing what they do, and then saying that humans are like that too? Meaning, if we studied atoms and we said that humans are like atoms, or if we took a different part in the evolutionary chain and just presumed that humans were like this previous building block, because obviously these are building blocks of something bigger. So I’m wondering if you think there is any danger in this approach?

SB: I don’t think there’s any danger. I think one of the dangers, and I’ve had it in terms of my own expression, is are we talking about intelligent design when we say we’re like our cells or our molecules have information? The intelligent design people are so at the other end of science and denying evolution or the reality of who we are that the danger for me is that I don’t want people who are trying to understand cells or saying we’re like our cells to just put us into the intelligent design camp, because it’s not. Knowing Bruce Lipton’s work, Bruce is probably the first person I ever heard who talked about cells working in cooperation. That was an aha moment to hear that. It gave me insight into, oh of course that’s more of the story. Cells aren’t competing with each other; normal cells don’t compete with each other at all. Cancer cells, well, they’re not normal; they’re competing for resources. But the rest of us is really cooperating and in alignment as much as possible. So, I don’t see the danger other than putting it into the camp of this is one more woo-woo person talking about, “well we’re just like our cells.” I see it in a way as divine guidance. That, as above, so below. We can learn from who we are at that level. We’re more than that and they can teach us. It’s like I say in the book, they’re our oldest living ancestors, why not learn from them?

TS: I’ve been speaking with Sondra Barrett. She’s the author of a new book from Sounds True called Secrets of your Cells: Discovering your Body’s Inner Intelligence. It’s a very provocative, stimulating and revealing book, and Sondra, I’m so happy to have this conversation with you and as I said, we’ll talk again soon. I have a lot more I’d like to talk to you about.

SB: Great! I enjoyed our conversation too, Tami.

TS:—your cells are listening—many voices, one journey.

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