An Article Series Exploring the Quantum Science Behind the Mind-body Connection
This article series delves into the question of whether our thoughts can create our personal reality. Many of the world’s most successful people are walking examples that we can achieve anything we set our minds to. But to gain a better understanding of how, I choose to dive into the exciting field of quantum biology — the intersection of quantum physics and biology.
The marriage of these two fields of science is a relatively new concept. While its implications to the real world are infinite, one of the things this body of knowledge can help us with is understanding the power of our mental acts — such as thoughts, attention, focus, and beliefs. Quantum biology could be the science that helps us see how they translate into the physical actions that create the personal experience we then call our life.
The book “Life on the Edge: The Coming Age of Quantum Biology” by scientists Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili is a wonderful introduction to the field of quantum biology. This article series follows the book, chapter by chapter, and applies its findings to the topic of how the quantum world could be responsible for our thoughts turning into things.
In the last article in this series, we discussed the role that our conscious attention plays in affecting the probabilities of certain physical outcomes. Today, we look at how exactly sensory input is translated into our experience and how we can utilize this knowledge to live happier and more joyful lives.
THE CROSSROADS OF TWO REALITIES: OUR SENSES
In our exploration of how the quantum world shapes our day-to-day reality, it helps to understand how our brain translates input from the environment into bodily sensations. The sensations we feel are a vital component of our reality. They change the way we perceive the world and in turn help navigate the next actions we choose to take.
Your senses are bombarded with about 11 millions bits of data every second! Out of all of that, how does your brain know to translate a certain aspect of this into what you ultimately call your reality?
In quantum physics, the observer effect illustrates how the observer changes the state of that which is being observed. The measuring device alters the state of what is being measured because of its inherent limitations. It’s not necessarily that the measuring device alters “reality,” but by choosing to only measure one outcome it inevitably forces the perceived reality to collapse into only one alternative (referred to as the wave function collapse).
If we think of our brain as the measuring device of our reality, our focus on any given aspect of reality thus brings it to the forefront of our consciousness.
“Reality” is simply the intersection of our interaction with our environment and what ultimately gets filtered down to our conscious awareness. Our conscious awareness is driven by where we place our focus.
When we consciously decide to place our mental focus on any given aspect of reality, we are telling our brain to place a higher importance on interpreting that data. As we grow up, we are conditioned to focus on pieces of reality through our beliefs about ourselves and life.
The neural pathways associated with certain ways of perceiving the world become so strengthened that it almost seems like we can’t break the habit of being ourselves, of our learned personalities.
But this is where neuroplasticity comes to our rescue. It reminds us that as we train ourselves to consciously shift our attention and thus think and believe in new and more empowering ways, we absolutely can change our attitudes, perceptions, and thus the personal realities of our lives.
SMELLING OUR WAY HOME
How do Nemo and his clownfish companions find their way back home after traversing the oceans for thousands of miles? McFadden and Al-Khalili start chapter 5 of their book “Life on the Edge” with this question to reveal the hidden power of smell.
Nemo and other reef fish are able to distinguish between the different waters of the world through their sense of smell. But what exactly is it that helps them do this? How does the sense of smell work — particularly in humans?
Compared to other animals, our human sense of smell is poor. Nevertheless it is powerful enough that a smell can instantly evoke memories of a loved one or an emotionally charged event or place. Bring to mind the smell of your favorite home-cooked Sunday lunch.
Even though you only have three hundred olfactory receptor genes, you have the wonderful ability to differentiate between over ten thousand smells! So how do you know that the freshly sautéed spinach is not the same as grandma’s garlic mashed potatoes?
As McFadden and Al-Khalili explain in the book, the olfactory receptors in your brain “can be activated in trillions of different combinations to provide the vast array of scents.”
LET THE ORANGE PERMEATE YOUR CELLS
When you sniff a freshly-peeled orange, what you’re really smelling is the molecular compound called limonene. As the molecules of limonene get close enough for you to perceive them, there is a threshold at which they interact with your cells and neurons on a quantum level.
According to McFadden and Al-Khalili, “when about 35 limonene molecules have been captured, the subsequent flow of ions into the cell amounts to a tiny electric current of about one picoamp in total. This level of current acts like a switch to fire an electrical signal, called an action potential down the handle of the brush-like cell, its axon.”
This is how the molecule of the citrus fruit enters the olfactory bulb in our brain. Our intelligent neural processors then piece everything together to help us experience that tangy orange aroma.
If we dive just a bit deeper into the quantum world, we can see how our nose takes the citrus molecule and turns it into an electrical impulse that fires a nerve impulse. According to McFadden and Al-Khalili, our nose doesn’t detect the shape of the molecule of what we’re smelling. Rather, the biomolecules in our nose are able to detect the vibrations of the molecular bonds between the atoms of the citrus molecules. How? Through the help of our dear quantum friend — quantum tunneling!
The quantum tunneling of electrons is the means through which the cells in our body are able to detect the vibration of things “outside” of our body and thus start the process of perception.
I am putting the word outside in quotations since technically our body and the environment are part of one electromagnetic field of potential (as evidenced by quantum entanglement). For practical purposes and for our physical survival, our brains tends to perceive our body as being separate from the outside environment though. This misperception sometimes leaves us feeling isolated and lonely in a world of seven billion other human beings and an abundance of fauna and flower that are all part of our larger earthly family…but I digress.
SNIFFING OUR WAY TO A HAPPIER REALITY
How does all of this translate into our ability to perceive reality through energies, frequencies, and vibrations? How does this explain how the structure of our body can be affected through our mental focus? How could this potentially help science shine a greater light on our ability to “receive” intuitive insights from the larger field that connects everything at all times?
If our cells are not as focused on the actual molecule itself as the frequency at which the intra-molecular bonds vibrate, we may be able to infer that the frequency and intent of any given thought, idea, or act is more important than the outward physical form it takes (such as words or behavior).
Perhaps the frequency of the vibrations of our thoughts can get to a coherent enough state where quantum tunneling can occur — thus allowing molecular changes to take place in a much more efficient manner without being subject to the slow laws of the classical world.
As I mentioned in other parts of this article series, research from The HeartMath Institute now shows that we can put our bodies into a more coherent state by aligning ourselves with positive, heart-based feelings and emotions through an intentional shift in focus. If we can infer that coherence in the body allows for quantum coherence, we could see how being in coherent states of mind can translate into coherent states of the body.
PERCEIVING A REALITY OF JOY, GRATITUDE, AND WONDER
We are able to see because electromagnetic waves travel to our retina for further processing. We can hear because sound waves are carried to our ears. We smell because quantum tunneling allows us to transform outside molecules into electrical potentials that we interpret as our experience of a vast array of aromas.
If we can receive information through electromagnetic waves and if our hearts generate and receive electromagnetic waves as well, why wouldn’t our thoughts, emotions, and feelings affect the cellular structure of our bodies?
Why wouldn’t our conscious intervention in the process of perception be able to shift what the measuring device of our body (our brain) chooses to focus upon to collapse infinite waves of possibility into one aspect of reality that we call our present-moment experience?
In this instant, your brain only allows you to taste one delicious slice of this very second. Yet the next moment is a blank canvas. Sniff your way along to a life of joy, gratitude, and awe by focusing on those things in your life that inspire these feelings.
Based on my readings, it is my belief that this could align the cells of your body to a much more coherent state where you are open to new insights, able to act on inspirations, and unafraid to go after what your heart desires. And the more you do that, the more you discover the power you have to co-create your reality, to co-create our reality as humanity. Day by day you can train yourself to change the way you perceive reality. And when you do that you change the reality for humanity.
Because you matter. All of us do. We are perceiving our world into reality one sensory translation, one perception, one belief, one thought at a time.