When I first began yoga I was pretty put out by the lack of mirrors in yoga studios. Years of training in the mirror walled rooms of ballet and dance had taught me to observe my body from the outside; every movement was measured by its reflection. How, I asked my teacher, was I to know if I was doing yoga right?
Her answer, that I find “the rightness” of the pose by going within, by “feeling it” from inside out, was just well, mystifying. I struggled to comprehend how paying attention to the thoughts going round in my head, or the feelings in my toes, had any bearing on the only reality that counts, the physical one “out there” that could be measured and acted upon.
It was a few months later, while reading a book about quantum physics that I began to make the connection to what my yoga teacher was saying. I realized the ancient yogis knew thousands of years ago, what particle physics tells us today. It is our ” in here”, our paying attention, that manifests the physical world we experience. Our separation from the world “out there” is all in our mind.
Consider the quantum facts.
Every cell in our body is composed of atoms, which are composed of sub-atomic particles. When these sub-atomic particles are broken down further, they reach a point where they are no longer objects at all. They dissolve into quanta, vibrations or waveforms of compressed energy.
Quanta are not actual things. They have no dimension, no “here” – no “now”. They are waveforms of possibility spread across space and time. Quanta exist simultaneously in all possible places and states, past and present, within an infinite energy field that is as Einstein stated “the only reality”.
As outlandish as it sounds, years of research have experimentally confirmed quantum theory to an almost unimaginable accuracy. At the quantum level of reality, the “oscillations of energy” of imagination, emotions, and thoughts, are not separate from waveforms generated by fingers or toes. Our thoughts and bodies flow seamlessly past our skins into everything and each other.
Even more incredible – it is our act of observing which collapses the energy field of all possibilities into a particle, a precise object in time and space. This ‘collapse of the wave function’, means the observer is not only necessary to observe the properties of atomic phenomena but to bring them into being.
In other words, there is no “out there” unless the “in here” looks.
Like most of us, I had heard about the paradoxes posed by quantum physics but believed they had nothing to do with my life. Now, I realized the ancient yogis had known about this deeper level of reality all along. They had developed a whole metaphysics (yoga) designed to access the deeper non-physical eternal (wave) aspect of our being.
The yogic sages – especially in the Hindu and Buddhist branches of Tantra anticipated quantum physics by claiming that a subtle vibratory energy is the source of everything we see, feel and touch. The understanding of the body as an energy field within a greater transcendental reality was a fundamental fact. The yogis understood that we are both a three-dimensional form living in one time and place AND an infinite field of information spread across all time and space. They sought to make us conscious of how our bodies and psyche function and have meaning, within this greater interconnected reality.
They knew we are what the great yogi mystic Patanjali, called Purusha, the Divine Self that abides in all things. According to Patanjali, it is ignorance, (avida) which clouds our awareness of this higher reality. By allowing the perceptions of the material self to control our definition of the world, we believe only what we can see, feel or measure is real. So – that is what our universe then reflects. We become trapped in our perceptions of limitations.
This is why now, many years later, mirrors no longer matter. I practice quantum yoga – a commitment to creating new possibilities. The thoughts and emotions I experience are my body. In the quantum paradigm, it is the ” in here”, my paying attention, that collapses the “out there” into the physical world I perceive, legs, arms, head and toes. I am at each moment, manifesting reality out of an infinite field of possibility.
By making time to be in my body as consciously as possible, I seek to ground myself in the NOW, the unified energy field of all possible states. This dipping into the wellspring of the divine is a devotional practice that leaves me fresher, more aware, and more alive.