(00:00): You're listening to the live happier, longer podcast, episode 74.
(00:15): Welcome to the live happier, longer podcast. This podcast is equal parts, information, inspiration, education and motivation, all dedicated to increase longevity and improving overall quality of life. I'm your host, Molly Watts and I'm here to help you build the habits of a happier, longer life. Let's get started.
(00:37): Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the live happier, longer podcast coming to you from eight fairly sunny Oregon this morning. So that's pretty happy when it's sunny here. I always like to bring you up to speed on the weather here in Oregon, especially when it's sunny. I think that many of you know that have listened to the show for a while, that one of the reasons that I started five for life was because I watched my parents take two very different paths towards aging and specifically wanted to achieve aging like my dad and avoid aging like my mom. That kind of thinking, I guess spurred some conversation with our guest today on the show because I was introduced to her work and really the idea behind it and the neuroscience behind it was very compelling for me. And I wanted to share that with you.
(01:32): It has something to do with family relationships and it is the study of epigenetics. So on today's show I'm going to talk with Joanna Lynn. She is the founder of the family imprint Institute and her work helps people with their, their relationships with their past in terms of understanding them from an epigenetic level. And the work is really fascinating to me. So I enjoyed this conversation so much and I wanted to share it with you all because it's definitely something that I believe is responsible for who I am today and where I'm headed with my life and how it is going to impact us as we continue to age. So here is my conversation with Joanna Lynn. Hey Joanna. Hi Molly. Great to be here with you. Oh, I'm so excited to have this conversation after connecting with you and learning more about what you do.
(02:34): At the family imprint Institute. I really obviously there's a lot about my background and my, the reasons that I started five for life in terms of that come back from my parents. And so having a conversation with this family imprint Institute and the work that you have been doing in epigenetics was fascinating to me. And I know you and I both share a lot interest in neuroscience, so that was not, that was not looked over either because I could talk neuroscience all day, but I really I don't think many people are familiar with epigenetics. It's fairly, I wasn't not the terminology anyway. So can we, can you take me like, let's do a little primer first. Let's talk about what is epigenetics and you know, where are you using it in your work at the family imprint Institute?
(03:29): Absolutely. So maybe we think of ourselves as there's a computer, we use that metaphor and none of us arrive with a clean hard drive. We share an operating system with our parents and our grandparents. And now we know through this study that's been around for really about a dozen years. It's fairly new in the world of science study of epigenetics that we are literally born prepared to deal with the traumas and experiences as our parents. So we may even be born with a hypervigilance if we've got a grandfather who lived through war or may have an eye on being very careful with, with our money and our, our feeling of will there be enough if our grandmother lived through famine or a lot of poverty. And so this awareness of what we're looking out for in the world is really informed by what our family experiences went through. And so now we're seeing so many studies, you know, we're making it on the cover of time magazine studies about epigenetics and there's more and more coming out every month. It's such an interesting time to be in this sort of work of transformation and longterm change by taking in the full picture.
(04:41): Wow. Yeah, I can imagine. I mean I've been just blown away by my very short term study here in the last couple years of neuroscience and understanding just how really relatively, like you said, a dozen years. There's a lot of neuroscience that really has only become aware, you know, we've only become aware of since the two thousands. I mean, that's, you know, in the history of mankind. That's a really, really short time. And so that is, I can understand, it's extremely interesting of course, as mentioned, and people that have listened to this podcast know that I kind of started this whole project based on watching my dad take one path towards aging and my mom taken another, I really curious about that aspect of epigenetics because obviously we are both, we're the, we're the blend of two different people, right? Are two different, not two different, multiple different people. If you look at, you know, both parents coming from two different parents, from two different parents, et cetera. So because I feel like in my own personal situation, my parents were very, had a very different background themselves and brought, definitely brought different traits to me and different experiences. So what do you, I mean, is that so I feel like maybe there's like, like they're very, they're almost like you know, battling internally, you know what I mean? The, the differences.
(06:09): That's it. So if we take epigenetics as the word and break it apart a little bit, so it's more than just genetics. We know we are more than our genes, the environment that the genes are growing and changing in translates to what that is for us, the child. And so yes chromosomally biologically we are half our mom and half our dad. But if we look beyond just the genetic part, what is the environment that our mom or dad have been brought up in? This very much informs how we age, how the genome goes through that aging process. And so you've talked about your dad being really resilient and keeping his cognitive faculties in play. He's active. And so I could imagine his family upbringing would be likely very different than what had gone on for your mom who didn't age as optimally. So when we've got family disconnect, when we've got this work is really concerned with where does love stop flowing? If we look at it like a garden hose, where did that hose get tangled up? And love is no longer flowing out. This stops the life force. This is where our life force gets diminished. And then we pick up all kinds of coping strategies, whether that's quick to anger many forms of addictions, even closing down and depression. These are all ways that we're trying to cope with what maybe the child in us doesn't know how to deal with.
(07:39): [Inaudible] Oh yeah. Fascinating. I love that. So I completely agree with all of that. And what I want, I've heard you talk about and I really want to make sure we focus on is that there's hope here, right? I mean, if, if my, if my hose was broken somewhere along the line back there that and anyone else that's listening to this, that they, that we have the power within ourselves to heal this situation in some way. It may be not, maybe we need help from people, from professionals like you, from people that are doing this work and helping people with it. But talk to me a little bit about that process. How does someone, you know, uncover that within themselves and work on healing it?
(08:24): Yeah. This is where my love of neuroscience comes in because it's one thing to know the science and maybe to have awareness of like, Oh, so that's why I do this, or that's why I can't break this habit. But it's a whole other thing to step into the hope of what's possible and the implementation of that change. And so what we know through neuroscience, thankfully, is that the brain actually doesn't care about the source. If we can go in and mentally rehearse, if we can go in with that feeling center of what it would have been like to receive from our mom, even if that experience was never there from my work, that perspective builds the larger picture. So if you might say to a client, what would it feel like to open that hose and receive from love from your mom? And they sort of look at you like you have two heads, I have no idea.
(09:15): You know, that was not my experience. And so this next step with this work is tell me about what happened to your mom that has her be so critical or that has her be so emotionally shut down and every single time Molly, there is something there like, Oh my gosh, my grandma lost her first baby and was never able to grieve or yeah, my grandma lived with a raging alcoholic and my grandpa left when I was about eight and so we can see and sometimes it's not that dramatic. I was sure, sure find where the kink in the hose started and we can then begin to open up some compassion, some adult level understanding that that eight year old couldn't. Because as a child we just need what a child needs. But I can't tell you how many times the clients that I work with in their forties fifties sixties are still really holding onto that child hurt.
(10:13): And sometimes through that neuroscientific way, we need to catch it up with time so we can see it through the wisdom of what we've learned about life and if we've become parents ourselves, how difficult that whole relationship can be. How challenging some things can get lost along the way. So we're looking to see it not only in its full picture, meaning how was mom shaped to be the way she is or why couldn't she go to these certain places. But we're also beginning to change the way we hold the memory inside so that that's not the reference point. The childhood hurt we're seeing it went in a full, the full picture.
(10:55): One of the things that I, in my learning and research and discovery for five for life and for the live happier, longer podcast has been in the self coaching model. And understanding that my thoughts actually create the feelings that I have inside of me and those thoughts. Well, and that's been very freeing and empowering for a lot of reasons, but especially when it comes to my past and understanding that that whole concept, like I think a lot of people, we talk about our daily habit number five is let go. And for some of people letting go of the past is a big part of that because, and just to, to what you're saying, it's not so much, you know, shutting it off and turning it away and pretending like it never happened. It's about understanding that the only reason that the past exists now
(11:50): In the thoughts that I have about it today. And so one of the things that you and I spoke about earlier and I, I appreciate it so much, was just the ability to reframe a relationship or a past hurt or whatever it might be, regardless of whether that person is still here. Because you were talking about like a grandparent, like both of my, my grandma, all my grandparents are deceased and you know, my parent, one of my parents is deceased. And so the, the ability to have a really a, a positive relationship with that person now is still available to me based on how I frame that and using that conscious awareness of, and just like you said, exploring a little bit more about what may have happened to, you know, get the kink right in that, in that house.
(12:47): I love the way you've expressed that and it actually reminded me of a study, I don't even know, I don't even know the source anymore, but the premise of it was as we make sense of our traumas, our hurts, you know, resolve the divorces and come to terms with whatever has gone on in our own life. This is where we heal the transmission that it continues on with our own children. So there'll be so often I'll get a call and parents will sail. I'm concerned about our teen or my five-year-old has all this anger and we don't know what's going on, you know, when can I bring our child to see you? And I say, Hey, you know, I work with epigenetics and the facts of the family and family history. You know, when can you and the father of the child come in, right. And so I get one of two accurate responses. Usually the dial tone because it's too scary or he absolutely, they bring all the in the family history, right? Because often what our children express is what's unresolved in us as personally or between the marriage. And so can we look at the anger that the child holds as potentially unexpressed anger in you or your spouse?
(13:58): And so we begin to look at what's going on with our children as almost a, a neon arrow that's pointing to look here and our own history or in the relationship we have with our parents.
(14:09): Yeah. Scaring a lot of people right now, Joanna, I lot of people are going to be, it's meant to be optimistic because when we resolve it, we no longer pass it on. No, I agree. And I think that that's one of the biggest lessons that I teach all the time because this podcast is called live happier longer. It's about aging with optimism, right? Regardless of what I say and being happier. Aye. Aye. I tell people all the time, life is 50 50 this is not about avoiding negative emotion. This is not about a life that's all, you know, rainbows and unicorns. Exactly. It's just that isn't what is going to be happening here. When we talk about being happier, ultimately, authentically happier, it means that we're able to reflect on past trauma or past hurt, past, you know, regret with the eyes and the emotional maturity of someone who's able to be, I often talk about stepping outside and being a clinical observer at, you know, looking at our, our brain with curiosity and compassion as opposed to sometimes having those, you know, people get scared, right, of their thoughts and their emotions and they don't want to go back and look at it at all.
(15:34): That's it. They feel they may be taken over by it or if I, you know, open Pandora's box, maybe I'm no longer functional and that's what I've truly grown to appreciate about this work. I've been involved in sort of the healing arts for 20 years and there can be a lot of talk therapy where you're bringing up a lot of the yucky stuff. But now what are we doing with it? And my appreciation for this work is it's about the facts of the family. We're not actually talking about the stories because that's what triggers all the same stress response in the body. And we're beginning to connect the dots and have great understanding so we can finally come to resolve it. I'll often joke with my clients like where is that slow leak in your proverbial tire of life? And if we've got unresolved stuff with a, with a parent, with a sibling, with our own child or spouse, I mean you could be losing 50% of the air in your tire and you haven't even started your day yet. Right? And so this contributes to aging as almost a silent piece in the background that maybe we're eating healthy and exercising and doing all these positive things, but if we haven't solved that relational piece and it takes, it's kind of like noisy in the background. We've got to have the courage to look in and say like, what is this really costing me on an overall basis from that from a level of peace of mind and the messages I'm sending to my biochemistry.
(17:02): Yeah. And I think that I've talked on the podcast before about this state of chronic stress in the body and chronic inflammation and all the disease States that you know come about because of it. And it's, yeah, I mean it's, it's terrifying for a nation that is facing a world, not a nation that is facing okay. The aging out the population at a rate of 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 per day right now. And what that will look like in terms of this, what the impact of this of chronic disease is on us, especially as we age. It's, and just as you said that, that stress piece and what's going on, just kind of always white noise in the of your life that is taking away from your ability to, you know, truly age with optimism and be the best version of yourself that you possibly can be.
(18:02): You know, one of the things that I find myself resistance in the resistant in the idea of quote unquote therapy in terms of, or for especially dealing with past trauma is that it feels like it's always just as you said, kind of a hashing out rehashing of things. And also you know, you hear people and they say, I've been in therapy for years, you know, and it doesn't ever seem to get better. That's one of the reasons that I've, I found the whole self coaching model so much more applicable in this kind of what you're talking about kind of parallels more that whole the thoughts, create emotions, create our behaviors, create our results. And that's, you know, I'm more interested in creating positive results going forward in my life and taking ownership of my life in the future. Right. And so, but needing to, to resolve the past is something that I think is very, very much a part of what my experience is. But the idea of spending years and years doing this does not appeal to me at all in the slightest. And I think that people have the people have that, that
(19:14): Misconception stay idea of it, right? Yeah. I think how you're describing the way that you work dovetails perfectly into the way that I work. It's almost like we come at it from a different perspective. So typically Molly, I'll work with a client three times. We come to a resolution we're complete, and so a lot of my work, we start off, I'm building a three generation geneogram within the first half hour of our time together to really understand, okay, client with let's say chronic depression. Where does, where does this line up? Where do we work from? What's the larger influence here? Or maybe they've got a scary diagnosis and they've tried everything and now they really want to look at the larger picture. And then from there we begin to do experiential exercises that include the body. Because it's one thing to understand maybe why we can't get away from a certain habit or understand why we've been estranged from our parent or can't stand our children's father.
(20:15): All of these, you know, kinks in the hose for, we're looking to get the love flowing again or at least get to an understanding, compassion and to finally feel complete. So it's not that white noise in the background. And then your approach with that self coaching, with that way of motivation and keeping that momentum up with all the good habits and where we go forward from here. So this work kind of unearths and makes the connections and helps us to become free where we might have been stuck for decades. And it sounds like your work is more of the implementation you the day to day and the beautiful self care that's so essential.
(20:55): Yeah. Yeah. That is, well three is a much more palatable number. Joanna is a lot more palatable than 20 years. And you know, I mean, I'm just saying that, but people you hear from people and they're like, I've been in therapy for years and you know, they're ongoing and I don't dis, I do not disrespect psychologist or psychiatrist in any way. And, and a lot of what I talk about too is there's, there's a difference for people that are in true if they are chronically in a true depression state that's different than just the, then somebody that's life is working, you know. Okay. And they're just trying to take the next step in self-improvement or you know, to really be their best version of themselves. There's a difference. And sometimes, and I never want a sup, I never want to not be respectful of people that have true physical mental illness and require an, I believe there's a place that, you know, for people's, the medical side of this as well. So I don't want to be dismissive of that at all. Of course.
(21:58): Right. Paths for each person. And it's up to us to find what that is, what we need for ourselves. Yeah,
(22:04): Absolutely. So tell me a little bit more about how you work with people at, I know you've got different ways of kind of workshops and one on one and just a little bit more about the different ways that people can interact with you remotely. Because obviously even in this time of regardless, right now, I know you're in Canada and the, you know, [inaudible] not withstanding I'm sure you work with people in different parts of the world.
(22:36): Yes. I have an international practice that I was, I was joking with my virtual assistant that I started off building that years ago because I am in Canada and the winters here are terrible to be able to travel a bit in the winter. And so thankfully I figured out the whole online thing before it became a complete necessity. But it's so fascinating to work with different people from different cultures. You know, the one thing we all have in common is we come from a family. Yeah. But the cultural differences, the ways we belong in certain elements are so different. I'd country to country. And so that's been a really neat thing to explore. I also have a virtual group where we get together online. We just use zoom as our tool and because the group format of this work is so amazing.
(23:27): I think the one feedback I get from people that say, Oh, you know, Susie asked a question that I didn't even think to ask, but it impacted me so deeply. Or geez, my mom is so much like Karen's mom. And to see the way the healing work that she's doing, wow. Did that ever something to me. And so the group dynamic offers, I don't know, it's just more fluid and it has a little bit more to give to those who participate. And so when it's, when we're outside of the pandemic, I'd offer retreats and we get together in person. And that's beautiful too.
(24:06): Has this pandemic changed your practice at all? Has there been people that are getting overwhelmed with stress and anxiety that are finding it useful to reflect back on in terms of epigenetics? Right now,
(24:21): I think my practice has gotten so much busier. And I'm sure the turnip of stress and uncertainty has added to that. And from the perspective did that I come from and the way that I work with clients, I'm noticing in my day to day, many of them have a history where it's almost like the epigenetic alarm bells have been turned on. Their grandfather was a prisoner of war or their grandmother lived through a famine. And so that feeling of panic of will there be enough, will I be safe is actually louder in their bodies than perhaps someone who hadn't had a parent or a grandparent that had gone through something similar. And so it's really that education piece to let them know how much those experiences are informing their body and how do we actually turn that into a resource? How do we let that part of your body know, Hey, you've been through this before. You came through, you thrive, your living proof that life went on in a good way. And so how do we reframe that experience and turn it into a, to a resource?
(25:32): Yeah. Okay. That's wonderful. I I love everything that you are doing there and I think that there is such value in, I know there is in just exploring this more in depth than, so I'm excited to share all of this with my listeners. Joanna, if people want to connect with you specifically, how is the best way, where, where did they find you? What's the easiest way?
(25:59): And find me on my website which is www dot Joanna Lynn dot. CA if you'd like to find me socially like on social accounts, that's my name on Facebook and it's the family imprint Institute on Instagram. I love to connect articles and some of the latest studies and epigenetics are always shared there. So if they're wanting to stay informed on the topic, that's a great place to find it.
(26:23): And of course I will link all of that in our show notes as well and share that with everyone so you can get there quickly. But I really, okay hope that people come and explore a little bit more about epigenetics with you. There's great information on your website and all of the workshops that you do with people and the, the one-on-one types of appointments as well. So I just, I think that it's great and invaluable information for all of us. It's just like whether or not you've got a past trauma, you may not even be aware of some of the things that you are bringing with you into your life right now that aren't, that aren't working that well. You know, I talk a lot about habits that don't serve you and then creating habits that do, and there's, there's patterns in habits that don't serve you that probably have existed for quite a long time and that very well could be traced back to epigenetics. So I hope that people will take that opportunity and connect with you to explore that more in depth.
(27:27): Oh, thank you Molly. You know, you're so right. Just what you said there reminded me that we don't have to necessarily have this traumatic family background, but it's even in how we show up in our love life in our marriages and to understand, Oh, what was modeled, what was said, and these are some of the painful patterns we're repeating, even in love, even in the way we parent. So we don't have to have all these Praysee backgrounds in our family history to benefit from this approach.
(27:56): Yeah. And some of us may just be doing things right that we want to see, Oh, Hey, yeah. You know what, this was actually something that was, it's always nice to reaffirm yourself and go back and go, Hey, so positive confirmation goes. Right, right. Yeah. We always, we know the negative bias exists completely, so we have to work on looking for the positive as well. Well, Joanna, it was absolutely wonderful to talk with you. I, again, everything will be in my show notes, folks for connecting with Joanna Lynn and make sure that you have that spelling correct as well so that you can go and learn more about epigenetics and the family imprint Institute. So thanks so much Joanna.
(28:38): It's been great fun. Thank you Molly. Love to chat with you. Awesome. Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. If this podcast is helping you and you'd like to go a little deeper, maybe track your progress on your habit building, you should check out our five for life planner. The planner is 13 weeks undated, and you can start literally at any time to create the habits of a happier, longer life. It'll keep you motivated and it'll keep you accountable. Hen, Hey, it's affordable. So go to shop dot five for life.co that's shop dot five for life.com and enter promo code podcast for a special discount.
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