So, I’ve been getting a little sciency lately. Mainly spurred by my love of the Radiolab podacast. They are just sciency enough on that show to get me hooked and colloquial enough so that I understand what the hell they’re talking about. They brought up this interesting story in an episode about the Voyager Probes that are exploring our solar system currently, and will hopefully soon be pushing through the edge of the heliosheath, or the outermost layer of the helioshpere, where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of meeting other interstellar medium. This is the podcast episode if you're curious to listen to it. First of all, this is so bad ass. Nothing has ever been so far away from us on Earth or still had the capacity to report information back. These little guys are exploring the outermost edge of our sun’s domain and beyond…. I’m ridiculously enamored of this whole endeavor. Voyager 1, is currently in the heliopause - the place that signifies the outer limits of the sun’s magnetic field and outward flow of solar wind, so it’s between the solar wind and the interstellar wind which is pushing back in towards the solar wind (or maybe all around the solar sphere of winds and the sun’s magnetic field). I’m no astrophysicist - I just freaking love this stuff, so all of this is from this nasa website and interpreted for you to the best of my understanding. So, a piece of what has been discovered by the Voyager mission is that the solar winds are blowing around at a supersonic rate inside of the heliosphere, and in this heliopause, because they are meeting the resistance of the interstellar winds, there is a slowing of the solar winds to a subsonic rate. They basically are dying down to virtually nothing. Crazy. I always thought, when I imagined what it’s like in space (did I ever tell you that when I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut? Well, that, my friends is a true story), that there was only quiet nothingness between stars, galaxies, etc. But, come to find out, NO - there is a lot of energy flying around out there. The vast majority is what is called Dark Matter, which means we haven’t found a way to experience it at all, and what we can see/hear/feel - experience with our senses is only like 4% of what is out there! Anyway, I digress.
What this all got me thinking about is my own understanding of the human body and human experience. Especially as I’ve learned to see and know it through the practices of yoga and meditation. And specifically experiencing our bodies as a microcosm of the world, or the universe as we understand it, with respect to the yogic principle of spanda. Spanda refers to the pulsation of the universe, and not only of the universe as sort-of one unit, but on down the chain - the pulsation of the planet, of all life, of humans specifically, and even smaller. It is experienced in the ocean tides, in the seasons, the dance of the sun and moon, the migration of animals, our circadian rhythm, our breath, heartbeat, the transformation of potential to kinetic energy. It is everywhere and in everything we can know through our senses.
I never really knew much about space or the universe. The tide of curiosity is pulling me along for this absorbing ride now, though. The moment I heard this bit about this stilling of the solar winds...the profound still point...made me think about my own breath. The experience through meditation of feeling the inhale. Feeling the exhale. Of knowing the sacred pause between the two. However tiny or short that space of stillness - it also brings the mind to stillness when experienced. As does the one pointed focus of riding the breath in its kinetic form of movement as well. That we are TRULY but a microcosm, a tiny speck of imitation of that great expanse from which we came just sunk in on a vastly more personal level. Sure we can contemplate cute stories about how we are made of stardust (At a Hanuman festival one year I heard Amy Ippoliti tell this wonderful story about going to the planetarium with John Friend and having this moment of realization of everyone being made of stardust. I don't remember the details but it stuck with me, this image of sparkly people glittering like the stars we watch in the sky. How very Edward Cullen! I'm totally in love with this romantic view), but it still never really landed with me just how connected we are, until I heard the story of what those Voyagers are learning about the universe. I guess we all just need our own stories to ground our experiences in.
That we are not only made of the stuff of the universe, all of the proportions of elements found in the universe exactly mirrored in our own makeup, is humbling and unifying at the same time. But, also that we DO exactly what the universe does on our tiny level... how beautifully synergistic. So when I get on my mat, and I bow to the insight inherent in my own being, it now has taken on this enormous significance in a very personal and also completely impersonal way. We are all the same in this way. We are all made of stardust. We all pulse just like the world and universe we live in. And how utterly majestic to behold and to feel this divinity pulse through our own veins. The mighty universe shows itself to us through every cell that we contain, and every action that we take. The still point is so huge... it is the universe. What else is there to do but to bow and touch the earth with my heart?
As a student of yoga, massage, meditation , poetry and other such introversions, I figured some of my inspirations might also touch the hearts of others. Read, ruminate, digest, create...always returning to this well of deep love inside to renew ourselves and rediscover what we are. Enjoy!