Joe Dispenza, D.C., is a master of manifestation. After miraculously healing from a spinal cord injury that his surgeon said no one else had ever refused surgery for—an injury that threatened to paralyze him for life—Dispenza became fascinated with the body’s ability to heal itself. So he began interviewing people who had experienced spontaneous remissions to see what they had in common. After diving into a rigorous study of neuroscience, epigenetics, and quantum physics, he began using cutting-edge science to teach others how to heal their bodies by literally changing their minds. Here, the New York Times best-selling author of You Are the Placebo talks with Unity Magazine editor Katy Koontz about the biology of change.
Katy Koontz: In You Are the Placebo, you explain that manifesting a desired outcome from the quantum field is a matter of choosing a new future and then observing it into reality. How does that work?
Joe Dispenza: When you start thinking about what you want (that’s called intention), as you ask yourself the “what if” question, the frontal lobe in your brain turns on. It begins to call up networks of neurons from past experiences as well as what you’ve learned intellectually, and it pieces them together to create a new idea.
If you can begin to combine that clear intention with an elevated emotion—in other words, you begin to experience the joy or the gratitude or the enthusiasm of that experience—then you’re teaching your body emotionally what that future could feel like. Your body doesn’t know the difference between having the actual experience that creates an emotion and an emotion that you fabricate by thought alone. So your body begins to live in that future reality in the present moment.
So just by thinking differently, you begin to change your brain. And just by feeling differently, you begin to change your body. When you combine how you think and how you feel, you create a state of being. It turns out that the quantum field primarily responds to who we’re being.
KK: Although there’s more—it’s not quite that neat, right?
JD: Well, that doesn’t mean you sit on your couch and wait for abundance to show up. If you’re defining yourself by a vision of the future, you have to make choices consistent with that future. So you have to take some steps toward your destiny. Most people wait for their wealth to arrive before they feel abundant or for their new relationship to happen before they feel love. That’s the old model of the reality of cause and effect. That’s when we wait for something outside of us to change how we feel inside of us.
What we’re teaching people to do now is to be defined by something that exists as a possibility, emotionally embrace that future, and then move into a new state of being through meditation. That’s causing an effect. They have to be willing to give up control over how or when it’s going to happen and allow a greater intelligence to begin creating synchronicities and serendipities equal to their creation. When you see that it works, you’ll keep doing it. That’s human empowerment, and I think every person has the divine right to live that way.
KK: So the limits to what we can create are pegged only to our ability to follow through.
JD: Right. A person may say, “I really want to be wealthy,” but they can’t feel lack or unworthiness and then attract wealth.
KK: To many people, change is a dirty word because there’s comfort in consistency. Being open to change can take effort. Does it ever become effortless?
JD: The body becomes conditioned to feel certain ways because we’ve trained it so well. So if someone thinks, I’ve been a victim and suffered for most of my life, but now I no longer want to blame, complain, make excuses, and feel sorry for myself, then they have to face the hardest part about change, which is not making the same choices they did the day before. The moment you stop making the same choices, get ready, because it’s going to feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Most people go back to their original state. They’d rather feel guilty or sad than step into the void of the unknown.
KK: Because those emotions like guilt or sadness are familiar.
JD: Right. Once you no longer think, act, or feel the same way, you are no longer the same known personality. Stepping into the unknown is the biological, neurological, chemical, and even genetic death of the old self. In the western world, people live by the hormones of stress—in fight-or-flight survival mode—70 percent of the time, which means they usually act in very predictable ways. People have to really get beyond their own emotional states in order to begin to get comfortable with the unknown. When they do, they realize it’s the perfect place to create from, to predict your future is to create it—not from the known, but from the unknown. We just have to learn to be comfortable in that place of uncertainty.
KK: As your book explains, this isn’t about muscling anything with sheer will. You have to get inside your brain’s operating system. Is that our biggest roadblock to change?
JD: By the time we’re 35 years old, 95 percent of who we are is a set of memorized behaviors, habits, emotional reactions, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes that function just like a subconscious computer program. So you may decide to consciously think positive thoughts, but if your body has been memorizing the chemical and hormonal effects of your negative feelings for the past 25 years, your mind and body are in opposition. To truly change, the conscious mind has to merge with the subconscious mind. In my workshops, we teach people how to regulate and control their brain waves and begin to slow down their analytical thinking, which allows them to get into their brain’s operating system, where all those programs exist. That’s when you begin to see more permanent changes.
KK: I love that your method involves the universe delivering your creations in unexpected ways. That’s completely delicious. Can you elaborate?
JD: When we’re trying to control an outcome, that’s matter trying to change matter. When we live by the hormones of stress, we compete, we manipulate, we force, we control, we hang on, and we try to predict the future based on the past. We’re physical matter trying to influence physical matter, and that takes time.
But when we use meditation to let go of placing our attention on matter and instead become pure potential in the quantum field, where all potentials exist, we don’t feel separate from possibility. We start to feel connected to something greater, our heart starts to open, and we trust the outcome without trying to force it or control it. Now we are more energy than matter, and so we should be able to exert a more powerful influence on matter to create our desired outcome.
This means we have to lay down the very thing we’ve used our whole life for something greater to occur. That’s not easy because the moment we start experiencing the unknown, it gets uncomfortable and so we try to go back and follow the old familiar way. For this to work, then, we must surrender to the outcome, which means we know it will happen, just not how or when. That’s actually none of our business—our only job is to move into new states of being.
KK: That’s so freeing.
JD: That’s the point. And we say we want this creation to come in a way we least expect and that surprises us so there’s no doubt it’s coming from this greater intelligence. But you have to realize that the unknown isn’t going to be scary like we’ve been conditioned to believe. After all, when any creature is living in stress, its chances for survival are better running from the unknown than embracing it.
KK: Because the unknown has sharp teeth.
JD: Right. So if you’re going to create the unknown, you have to get out of the way, trust in the universe, and allow the details to be handled by a greater mind—and that’s when it starts getting pretty exciting.
KK: If connecting with elevated emotions in meditation can fast-forward your brain chemistry to a new state of being, must we also maintain those elevated emotions outside of meditation?
JD: My idea of meditation is getting beyond the analytical mind and changing your internal state so that you’re greater than any condition in your external environment. So if you have a great meditation and give thanks for your life and feel joy and love and kindness, then when you get up you should feel different than when you started. If you did, you’ve altered your internal state and so made changes neurologically, chemically, biologically, and genetically. The longer you sustain that state, the more you are drawing new and fulfilling experiences to you, the more it becomes a habit. But if later that day you feel aggressive and cut people off on the freeway, that’s going back to the old self. You went unconscious again. It’s like eating a really great organic meal and then spending the rest of the day eating junk food.
KK: We’re still going to fall short sometimes, but I bet this model would help us be less judgmental with ourselves.
JD: Yes. There’s nothing wrong with having emotions and reactions. What matters is how long you decide to stay there. To change requires you to recognize what caused you to fall from grace and then decide who you’re going to be if the same circumstance happens again. That’s called evolution. Every day we get a new chance to do it better.
But it can take time. Even with placebos, people might have to take a placebo for six or eight weeks before they get results. The pill represents a symbol of health, and so taking it is a daily reminder of the possibility of a different future. You may have to move into a new state of being in meditation every day for several months to finally program the right gene in the right way. It does take practice, quite a bit of attention, and some discipline.
KK: Let’s talk about epigenetics—turning off the expression of some genes and turning on the expression of others. How much latitude do we have with gene expression?
JD: All genes do is make proteins, which are responsible for the structure and function of your body. Your immune system makes immune proteins called antibodies, your skin cells make skin proteins called collagen, and your stomach cells make proteins called enzymes. For a cell to make a protein, a gene has to be regulated.
We have 100,000 proteins that make up our body plus about 40,000 that regulate and assist the body to make those 100,000 proteins—so we have 140,000 proteins total. That means we should have 140,000 genes, but it turns out that we only have 23,688. So we have more proteins than genes. The epigenetics model states that we can have different variations on the same gene—as many as 35,000, in fact.
Genes up-regulate or turn on and produce healthy proteins, or they down-regulate or shut off and produce modified or unhealthy proteins. As long as you keep thinking, acting, and feeling the same way, you keep the same genes turned on and the other genes turned off—and now you’re headed for your genetic destiny.
As you begin to modify your thoughts, behaviors, and emotional states, you can turn on thousands of different gene expressions that begin to make new proteins. Certain genes are more actively signaled than others but again, the stronger the signal, the more profound the experience; the more altered the behavior, the more we change our genetic expression. Our nervous system is actually the greatest pharmacy in the world.
KK: What are some of the changes people in your workshop have been able to make?
JD: We’ve seen people heal themselves of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Hashimoto’s disease and other endocrine disorders, malignant and benign tumors, psoriasis, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, vision problems, anxiety, depression, hearing loss, and rare genetic disorders that medical science has no solution for … I could go on and on.
Here’s a great example. A man had been in a serous car accident eight years ago that broke all the bones in his face and completely severed his olfactory nerves—and according to medical science, those nerves never grow back. He’d read You Are the Placebo, started meditating, and came to an event I did recently in Melbourne, Australia. After the meditation, he leaned over to hug his girlfriend and he could smell her perfume for the first time since the accident. He actually started crying. So he came to an advanced workshop the next weekend and told me, “I was smelling the pungent earth on the drive here. I could smell Chanel on the women behind me in line. I can smell food now; I can taste.”
KK: Wow! So where is your research going next?
JD: One of the surprising developments that have happened in our workshops is that we’re measuring such high amplitudes of energy in some people’s brains that their scans look like they’re having a seizure, but it turns out they’re having a transcendent experience. The amplitudes are so powerful that they are literally changed in an instant.
For example, the average amount of energy a neural network produces when firing is 10-60 microvolts squared. We’re capturing scans showing 1 to 4 million microvolts squared—that’s up to 100,000 times normal! Those people are having an inner experience that’s more real than any past outer experience. My current interest is measuring those transcendent experiences. I think the biggest lie we’re taught is that we’re linear beings living a linear life. The truth is we’re multidimensional beings. In my opinion science has become the contemporary language of mysticism.
KK: So this is going way beyond someone healing their thyroid.
JD: Exactly. They’re having a mystical experience that’s so profound that the side effect is that their thyroid is healed. You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk or have 40 years of kabbalistic training to do this. We’re seeing common people around the world doing the uncommon.