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Physics, Consciousness And Yoga

Forced vibrations happen at frequencies of applied force and are external. When natural and forced frequencies equal, resonance occurs, multiplying amplitudes, even causing failure.

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Self-realization is “atma-jnana” or “atmabodha”. It is to know the self beyond material pleasures and a goal of “Sanatana Dharma”. Vedas and Upanishads define consciousness as “Atman”, or “Brahman”. Brahman is “ekam sat” or the only truth.  Even “Bhagavat Gita” tells us “Brahmano hi Prathishtaham” or “Brahman” is all pervading consciousness. However, what exactly is consciousness? 

The American physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, once spoke of the paradox of quantum mechanics which describes the physical properties of nature at subatomic scale thus. "I cannot define the real problem; therefore, I suspect there's no real problem, but I'm not sure there's no real problem." The paradox of a quantum experiment is that its outcome can change depending on whether or not we choose to measure some property of the particles involved. Consciousness is the same. Don’t we hold onto two mutually-exclusive ideas at the same time in our brain, just as quantum objects can apparently be in two places at once? 

Can consciousness be explained through ancient practice of yoga or the precepts of modern physics? It is different from space, time, energy and matter. We use eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, tongue to taste, and skin to feel. Some of us may experience extrasensory perception or sixth sense. Precognition and remote viewing are equally interesting. Whereas the earlier is viewing future events before they happen, later is about events at remote locations. Do we build consciousness through our senses? Is it the sentience or awareness of internal and external existence? Let’s seek out physics first.

Resonance and consciousness are related since both are affected by disturbances. The natural frequency of a body is directly proportional to stiffness and inversely to its mass. Here, the system tends to oscillate in the absence of any driving or dampening force. Stiffness of a body is the ratio of load to displacement. Everything, whether animate or inanimate, will have a natural frequency. Whereas frequencies of animate bodies can be estimated, the inanimate will need special conditions. Everything in the universe, whether in the realm of physical or metaphysical are made of energy and vibrations in various forms that include our body, mind, thought and the “panch tatva” such as ‘akash’ the space, ‘vayu’ the air, ‘jal’ the water, agni the ‘fire’ and ‘prithvi’ the earth. 

What is the relationship between the reality within the confines of the seen and unseen or from the mental and extra-mental? Can we explain “paranormal” acts such as telepathy and telekinesis? Is this quantum consciousness? 

Forced vibrations happen at frequencies of applied force and are external. When natural and forced frequencies equal, resonance occurs, multiplying amplitudes, even causing failure. Hence, for bodies not to fail, higher natural frequencies are desired. A capacity to have smaller deflections for large loads, would raise the stiffness/toughness of the body which has small mass. This causes better consciousness or better awareness of both inner self and the environment. 

Material properties have a significant role in determining the natural frequency. Herein lies the strength of Yoga, the power of meditation and its effect on human body and its consciousness. Vibrations in the frequency range of 0.5 Hz to 80 Hz have significant effects on the human body. Howard Stein gull, an American Scientist has established that recitation of ‘Gayatri Mantra’ produces a frequency of 110,000 Hz that can heal the DNA. The sound ‘Om’ vibrates at the frequency of 136.1 Hz, which is also the vibrational frequency found in everything in nature.

The earth too vibrates at a resonance of 7.83 Hz, known as Schumann Resonance. It is the natural state of everything. Inhaling and exhaling at about this frequency, will set up a rhythmic beat in consonance with that of the earth. It can control the metabolism-katabolism of the human body. 

The more synchronized the vibrations are, the more sophisticated our consciousness is. synchronized vibrations are central not only to human consciousness but to all of physical reality as the “resonance theory of consciousness” says. Actually, consciousness is much more than simple awareness, self-awareness, or intelligence. It is imagination, emotion, intuition, potential, tacit knowledge, and other kinds of personalized intelligence embedded in the subconscious and unconscious minds. 

Consciousness and unconsciousness both are like the iceberg. An iceberg, is less than 10% above the surface of the water. Whereas the conscious mind is the ego and personality along with sensory impressions like "hunches," thoughts, feelings, attitudes, etc., the blue ice hidden beneath the surface represents the unconscious mind like our inner motivations, feelings, reactions, unresolved issues, and potential abilities. In order to understand consciousness, we need to explore the "underwater world" of dreams and fantasies. What we know is far less than what we do not know of ourselves. 

A dictionary tells us that Consciousness is "to know with". The essence of Yoga is the search to know our true selves and to discover the real nature of consciousness. Ego is a false identity from what we have, what we do, or who we are connected with. Since the environment around us keeps changing, this identity too keeps changing. Behind this façade, a deeper identity, exists as the "true self". Is the true-self, consciousness?

Yoga however, begins with the body, transcends the mind and then realizes the inner nature. If yoga deals with the mind, why does it begin with the body? Yoga works on the well-being of the total personality, of the body, mind and spirit. It does this through seven states of consciousness. We normally experience only three states: sleeping, dreaming and waking. In meditation, one can experience “turiya”, defined in the Mandukya Upanishad, the fourth state, or pure consciousness, commonly known as Samadhi. When this state coexists and stabilizes with the other three, which is the fifth state, where I-consciousness merges with the cosmic consciousness. The sixth state is God consciousness whereby individual sees God everywhere and in everything. The last is unity consciousness. What is within is also outside. 

Our self-awareness is due to the vibrations and oscillations that occur individually or shared in various physical aspects of our brain. The speed of the resonant waves is the limiting factor that determines each conscious entity. As the shared resonance expands to more and more constituents of the brain, our awareness grows larger and more complex.

There are two audiences in the world. one who desires mundane pleasures and the other who seeks to know Brahman. The “purva mimamsa”, of “Advaita Vedanta” emphasises on “karma kanda” of the Vedas, and is meant for the first audience. They too need to meditate but stop short of reaching any harmonics. Vedanta also emphasises on the “jnana kanda”, for those who wish to go beyond the transient pleasures and go into higher harmonics through meditation or self-realisation. “Yoga” helps both.

Different meditation forms can raise the natural frequency by altering our body stiffness and mass. External disturbances are the forced frequencies which enable first harmonics. Transcendental meditation allows smooth transition to second harmonics. Higher orders of meditation like spiritual can allow the brain to cross over to higher harmonics without building on amplitudes, ultimately operating at a harmonic that is at peace with the cosmic resonance. This is the state of self-realisation or ultimate consciousness.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Dr S S Mantha

Former Chairman AICTE and Adj Prof NIAS, Bangalore.

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