Emergence of the Universe


Creativity and the Emergence of the Cosmos     

   From what we can see from our vantage point, on planet earth, here and now, the known universe emerged mysteriously some 13.7 billion years ago in a great flaring forth of energy, with matter, in the form of elementary particles, mysteriously appearing and disappearing like bubbles and foam. In the metaphoric language of the mid 20th century, this became known as the ‘Big Bang”. Over time, as this emerging amorphous energy blob continued to expand and cool, fields of organizing intelligence began to reveal themselves and the universe as we know it began to take shape. Units of raw dynamic energy began to crystallize into matter in the form of the more stable fundamental particles such as electrons and protons, which eventually gave birth to atoms, galaxies and stars.

Modern science has defined four of these fundamental fields of organizing intelligence, calling them interactions, that govern the way in which the various structures of the universe move, change and relate. (Systems theory, which looks at how large collections of forms can develop complexity and the capacity for self growth uses these four interactions and a few more. We will develop this in the biology section.)

Two of these interactions operate at the sub atomic or microphase realm and, although they are unavailable for us to perceive without incredible powerful and complex scientific machinery, we should at least know that they exist. One, the weak interaction, is involved with the breakdown or decay of sub-atomic particles such as neutrons. In the earliest moments of the universe, all particles were decaying almost instantaneously because of the intense heat and pressure. In modern times, the weak interaction is seen in the fusion process that fuels the sun and certain other stars. It is also involved in the radioactive decay of much larger atoms such as uranium and plutonium.

The second, the strong nuclear interaction, also operating at infinitessimally tiny distances, allows multiple positively charged protons to overcome their mutual repulsion and stick together, often joining with assorted neutrons, to create what we know as the nucleus of an atom. When bound with negatively charged electrons, more complex atoms such as helium, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen emerge. Large clusters of all the same atom give rise to what is called an element, the basic building blocks of the material universe. So far 118 elements have been identified as is demonstated in the periodic table of the elements.

The third interaction, electromagnetism, is familiar, in one way or another, to all of us, as it helps determine the shaping and interactions of the mesophase realm of existence, where our bodies, sense organs and what we refer to as every day reality reside. It allows certain particles to be either attracted to or repelled by other particles, if they happened to carry a quality of energy called charge. Like charges repel, opposte charges attract. A positively charged proton attracts a negativly charged electron. Bingo! You have a hydrogen atom, the most common atom in the universe. Although, because of new understandings in quantum physics, this model is no longer totally accurate, it is still useful to imagine an electron, or collection of electrons, orbiting around the nucleus like the planets orbiting around the sun.

Negatively charged electrons in their orbits repel each other, (as do positvely charged protons in the nucleus), allowing a sense of space to be retained. Shells or layers of electrons keep atoms from geting too close to each other. This allows a whole new level of complexity to arise as different atoms have the ability to share electrons and create larger structures known as molecules. A water molecule finds two hydrogen atoms sharing their single electron with a hungry/needy oxygen atom. A carbon atom shares 4 of its electrons with two hungry oxygen atoms and you get carbon dioxide. The study of chemistry reveals the amazing world of this realm. The fluidity of electrons is the basis for electricity, and more importantly for us, the awakening process itself.

And finally our fourth interaction, gravity, defines the macrophase structure of the universe. Gravity binds large clusters of particles together to create stars, planets, moons, asteroids and galaxies. Gravity is the play ground of the yogi and we will explore this deeply in the poses. In the neurobiology section, we will see how the nervous system has evolved a mechanism to use gravity to help in self organizing physiology and movement. When the organism has a healthy relationship to gravity, the living tissue shares electrons continuously giving a sense of wholeness, integration and fluid freedom.

These fundamental manifestations of the universe, matter, energy, and fields, and the amazing self-organizing capacities that arise to give birth to an unending series of forms and transformation that make up the universe are the foundations of science and also the roots of our own embodied existence. Our ancestry extends back at least to the beginning of time 13.7 billion years ago. Visionary cosmologist Brian Swimme has devoted his life to exploring our cosmological origins and envisioning how we, as humans, can live fully within the vast powers and capacities that are as much a part of us as they are the atoms and molecules, the planets, stars and galaxies. He has articulated 10 ‘Powers of the Universe’ to help us understand how we can personally embody these cosmic dynamics, combining contemporary scientific terminology with metaphor and imaginative imagery to bring to life his deep revelatory experiences of the ways in which the creativity of the universe is alive moment by moment. As yoga practitioners, we can use the postures as entryways into these dynamics and allow the poses to expand our consciousness to the far reaches of the universe.



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Micro-Cosmic Orbit: Pt 2

Exploring and Embodying Three Dimensions

In the previous post we explored the micro-cosmic orbit as a means to refine our focal attention (samadhi) through bringing our attention to specific points along the orbit and linking these points into lines, arcs and circles. As we work more deeply this way, we may discover that we can find these points at three levels. The first is out beyond the confines of the skin, in an ‘orbit’ in the energy field around the body. The second is directly on the skin, where an acupuncturist or shiatsu practitioner would apply needles or pressure. The third is in the interior of the body along the planes of fascia interwoven through the organs, blood vessels and nerves. When we can feel all three of these levels simultaneously, we are inhabiting our spherical energy field and can begin to fully realize the possibilities of having three dimensional/spatial sensitivity, perception and consciousness.

images-5The girdle vessel (Dai Mai,) the fourth vessel we use, is a latitude line and is essential in finding our three dimensional perceptual field. This yang vessel pairs with the yin ‘thrusting vessel, the vertical center axis, creating horizontal stability, and allowing us to rotate/twist. Rotation inherently builds the third dimension of depth ( A circle has length and width. To create a sphere you add depth. ) and is the gateway to cosmic awareness as well as a more vibrant embodied presence.

Rotation drives the whole manifest universe. In our solar system, the planets spiral around milky_waythe sun. In our Milky Way galaxy, the stars, including our sun, spiral around a center (probably a giant black hole! If you can find Sagittarius in the night sky, and you will probably have to wait until next summer, look through and imagine 26,000 light years off in the distance.) The earth rotates on its own axis creating weather patterns as well as a sense of day and night.

The spinning top (one of the oldest toys known to humans, found in archeological sites all over the world) demonstrates the cosmic principle in physics we are embodying. The faster it rotates, the more stable the vertical line. When the top slows down it starts to wobble and when it stops spinning, it falls over. To keep the rotation, you need to keep feeding it with energy. The bicycle uses this same principle, flipped 90 degrees. Another aspect we explore is the radius of the horizontal circle. Rotation pushes from the center outward (yang) in what is called centrifugal force. As this is counterbalanced by theGM2434B-1 yin centripetal (center seeking) force, we can change the volume of the energy field by playing with this ‘expanding – condensing’, yang – yin relationship.

In this top, the widest circle with the most outward thrust, the purple one, is below the center of the vertical axis. Lowering the center of gravity adds even more stability, which is why we emphasize the lower dantien in our breathing, movement and meditation practice. When we discover how to work with this principle in the energy field, our twisting poses can actually help expand the body. If we work muscularly, you will feel constricting in twisting poses.

SBK_1711254-24Traditionally the ‘dai mai’ girdle vessel surrounds the body at the level of the pelvis in the lower dantien. but we can move our attention to awaken other ‘latitudes’ of the body. To begin in the feet, stand with the right foot forward, the left foot back, as if you are about to move into a standing twist (without the forward bend), but haven’t yet begun. Before you move any further, imagine a spiraling coil of energy beginning below the floor (the Antarctic Circle) and traveling up the center. Notice how this mimics the girdle vessel. Now imagine the coils widening as they rise up from the base ( moving toward the equator), as the yang energy expands outward. The girdle vessel is very yang so this is quite natural. Feel the energetic volume expanding and condensing with the breath, but slowly expanding in overall volume

To awaken the front body-yin energy field, we can take the hoop forward to fully engage the arms and shoulders. Now imagine the hoops extends through the back body, receiving the rising spiral and expanding as the action of twisting. SBK_1711254-2SBK_1711254-9Most students eventually leave half of the body behind and end up contracting rather than expanding, especially along the spine column. Imagine the center of the spinal canal opening outward in an expanding circle/spiral, melting the tissue, feeling spaciousness, transcending the limitations of structure.SBK_1711254-4 (My front foot turns out much more than average to release the inner groin. Don’t feel you have to imitate this, but find out for yourself where openness and balance meet.) The hoop is moved to the front to expand the yin/organ/front body qi field and expand the ‘wings’ of the body, but also feel the back body softening and opening. This feeling can be evoked in sitting, lying and inverted twists as well. If you do not have a hula hoop handy, you can also use a thera-ball to find the volume.SBK_1711254-8


Another key component awakened here is the Pericardium 8 point, PC-8 (or P-8) in the center of the palms. Analagous to the K-1 points on the feet, P-8 is a gateway between the inner and outer qi fields. The SBK_1711254-11Pericardium, the fascial connective tissue membrane surrounding the heart, arises embryologically from the same cells and tissues that create the diaphragm and liver. The ‘heart protector’ literally does this, on many levels. As someone with a well-armored heart, I am finding that opening and nurturing the heart protector so that is does its job with over doing it is awakening a level of sweet vulnerability that is both precious and scary.

SBK_1711254-12In acupuncture, the pericardium meridian is part of the JueYin channel and connects all the way through the femoral canal to the legs. For those of you who have been practicing ‘climbing the wall’ for the last few years, you can actually trace the whole fascial continuity of the Jue Yin. (Use imagination to fill in the blanks.) Rise up from K-1 (not the heels, even though they do rise on their own) (DFL for those of you who know Tom Myers’ ‘Anatomy Trains’ system) to P-8, passing through liver, diaphragm and pericardium.

You can also track the qi from P-8 back into the body horizontally, again using the wall.SBK_1711254-14 Using the tip of the  middle finger of your other hand (PC-9) to feel the connections, trace the qi from the the wall and P-8 into the area around the pec minor muscle and then go inside the body to the pericardiam itself, along with the liver and diaphragm. Use the breath and your imagination. Then go back and try the twistings shown above with these new perceptions.

SBK_1711254-20To continue our building of a three dimensional perceptual qi field, we can return to the thera-ball to provide sensation and visualization. I like the feel of my third chakra having organ support, so I find placing the ball there and using a wall creates a powerful presence on the inside. Embryologically speaking, this is the extemely yin yolk sac which becomes the entire gut body. The conception vessel points on the micro-cosmic orbit are stimulated by the ball, bringing sensation and perception here. The liver comes from the yolk sac, so I can use this position to also find the Jue Yin channel we explored above. Lying SBK_1711254-19over the ball in a forward bend creates a similar feeling, with even more yielding and softening to the yang back body erector muscles. By moving the ball to the sternum, I can activate a new set of points on the conception vessel and engage the inner tissues surrounding the 4th chakra

If I want to build up my back field perception, I use the ball from behind and awaken sensation on the yang Governing Vessel.SBK_1711254-16 Here I have dropped it a bit lower to find the sacral-lumbar junction and here I can feel the possibility of both lumbar flexion and extension, from S curve to C curve and back.  The very important GV-4 Qi gong Image‘gate of vitality’ is here The inner abdominal space also opens and the front back and center plane begin to become conscious. This becomes trickier as you move upwards towards the liver. You can place the ball anywhere and feel different points coming alive. Feel their inner as well as outer presence. Back support can also help open the front. I haveSBK_1711254-17been trying to open my throat more for my sax sound and using the ball (or any elastic support) helps soften and melt tight tissue.

SBK_1711254-21Fish body support, opening some Gall Bladder Meridian points is another way to use the ball. I am using the wall, but this can be done on the floor as well, with slightly different effects. All of these ways of playing with the three dimensional field are ways of awakening and establishing a dynamic energetic field, centered in your heart, and radiating out throughout the whole of the cosmos. When you are out in Nature, feel this. When you are out and about in the human sphere, feel how you respond. It is fascinating to see what happens.

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