Between my sons return from college, my youngest graduating from high school, travelling musicians and old friends visiting, it has been a full house at work and home. When Jeny and I discussed our theme for the month, we both came up with the idea of space. Breath is the most amazing way to create the feeling of space, so naturally our practice this month is pranayama or breath work. At the start, the idea came from needing more literal space, but as I explored the concept more fully I became inspired and in awe of the possibilities.
The Sanskrit word Akahsa has its origin in the Rig Veda and translates as ether or space. It’s derived from the root “kasha” to be visible or illuminate and “a” to move towards. According to Hindu mythology, creation began with the element of ether. From ether, the other elements-- air, fire, water and earth-- evolved. Taken a step further, the building block of these elements is the atom, and the similarity between the structure of an atom and our solar system is striking. The defining characteristic of both is vast spaciousness, a substance that is commonly viewed as empty space, yet it holds in it the alchemy of creation.
How we are in relationship to this vast spaciousness inside of us is where the magic lies. Some philosophers connect Akasha with prana, the energy that animates all of life. Prana acts like a current of attraction, that together with the powerful substance of Akasha creates everything and holds infinite possibilities.
I have been fortunate to experience the teachings of Christina Donnell over the past six years. In her current work, The Global Heart and World Soul, she refers to the physics of possibility which I have experienced as my whole being opening to the intensely alive space that resides in me and in everything at once. According to a study from Washington University, there are approximately 100 trillion atoms in a human cell and approximately the same numbers of cells in the entire human body. That is a lot of atoms!! In each atom there is a nucleus, protons, neutrons, and the electron cloud. Physicists have been telling us that the electron cloud does not have a set form but instead takes its shape based on what it receives and emits, as if atoms themselves breathe! Does this mean that our breath and intention influences us on an atomic level? For me, this deepens my understanding of how I can influence creation and the possibilities that are held in each of my cells.
The Sanskrit word pranayama often refers to breath control practices. The word prana is used to describe the indescribable vital life force within us and all things. Prana is sometimes used synonymously with breath. The root yama is translated as restraint or control. Doug Keller uses this analogy: “To think that we can control our Prana is as misguided as believing that paddling a rowboat would move the ocean below you.” Instead, when we recognize we are amidst a sea of prana, we have the opportunity and freedom to navigate and move with the current of life. Prana is like a sea of consciousness and we are as connected to this as the waves in the ocean. Her currents are that of divine will.
When we focus on separation, whether at the atomic level or the human level of perceived separation of race, religion, gender and species, we cut our selves off from what connects us and the possibilities that lie in the vast spaces of all things, the sea of consciousness. We have a choice about where we place our awareness, and it feels that right now, more than ever, it’s time to bring our awareness back to Akasha, the space that connects all things and the source of creation.
We are honored to be hosting a wisdom talk with Christina on September 16th and a daylong retreat on September 17th.
We can use perception to limit or close off vastness, or we can allow vastness to touch us. When we open ourselves and touch this vastness without interpretation, we are awakening the Global Heart. It is a reality no longer centric to a self and a discovery of the primordial wisdom in the world as it is. Here, the body and heart unite and become an instrument to perceive the original oneness of our being. – Christina Donnell