I used to say – ‘Empty space is present between solid objects and permeates them. It does not stop where a physical object starts, it goes thought it. Space is borderless, timeless, featureless and unifies the whole reality. It is a perfect example of non-object.’
This realisation was very helpful for Open Focus trainees in practicing the diffused attention styles. Dr Fehmi still recommends this approach as the best ‘short cut’ to generate the whole brain synchrony in alpha frequency.
The true is that the concept of empty space comes from the now discredited “hidden variable” interpretation of the wave function. It claimed that the electron was a point-like particle hidden in the atom, and that the wave function was only a probability description of where it actually was. However it turned out that ‘Hidden variable’ theory makes different predictions than does the alternative ‘Copenhagen interpretation’, which states that the electron is actually everywhere in the wave function until it is detected; then the wave function collapses. 1
I know, it sounds complicated. You can understand it better by listening to Prof. Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist, mathematician and a Nobel laureate. According to Prof. Wilczek fundamental building blocks of reality are fields. Particles, like electron, are only disturbances in those fields. Interestingly Prof. Wilczek says that since fields fill all the reality there is no difference between them and space. You can watch his short explanation below.
The main difference between the old and the new concept about the reality is that in the old one – there is space and particles (little solid bodies) in it, whilst in the new one – there is a field of energy which seems empty and particles are emerging within this field as its brief disruptions.
I think both concepts can be still useful to practice alpha synchrony in the brain. The easiest way to reframe the old concept it is to replace a word ‘space’ to a word ‘field’ and it still works !
I know it may sound not important but I helps to clarify some confusion and it keeps Open Focus in line with present concepts in science.
With this understanding you can read the rest of this this post as it was written some time ago.
Empty space is present between solid objects and permeates them. It does not stop where a physical object starts, it goes thought it. This also applies to all living beings – including yourself. Space is borderless, timeless, featureless and unifies the whole reality. It is a perfect example of non-object.’
Have you ever realised that such theories apply to your physical body. It means that there is a lot of space inside you now, when you are reading these words. There is also no separation between space inside you and space outside you. Space is continuous. Space does not end when a physical object starts, it goes through it. The same space is in front of you, behind you, and inside you. The same continuous space permeates you, all planets and stars and stretches to the farthest riches of the Universe. Space is the common background of all objects from which all objects emerge. You have never stopped to be an integral part of the Universe. You are connected with everything and everyone through space.
The only problem is that you are tuned to notice differences and to ignore space but there is a reason for it.
Space has no taste, not texture, no smell and we cannot see it. We do not have receptors to notice or perceive space. However space is as real as everything else and we cannot deny it. Without space there would be only one solid object and we would not be able to move. Without space entire human race would fit in volume of a sugar cube and we would be stuck one on another. So space is essential but it cannot be noticed. We can only be aware that space exists.
.Now look at your right hand and realize that your hand is full of space inside and between atoms. Your hand is also surrounded by space (which seems more obvious).
Now move your hand a few inches to the left.
Ok, you moved atoms of your body but what has happened to the space inside and between them.
Has it moved? Can space move when it is not an object?
You can imagine space inside and outside of you like a still background, which cannot be moved. It means that from the atoms point of view they stay still to each other but space around them is moving.
My hand feels as though I was completely transparent and very light when I do it.
Just try it.
Dr Lester Fehmi neuroscientist and psychologist from Princeton discovered a very interesting fact which is directly linked to space awareness. According to Dr Fehmi when we become aware of space which is between and within objects our brain electrical activity slows down and becomes synchronous in alpha frequency. It brings a feeling of deep relaxation and stimulates the para-symphatetic (rest and digest) part of our autonomic system.
Dr Fehmi created a series of mind exercises which help to experience it. The main challenge in Dr Fehmi’s exercises is realisation that there is is nothing to be felt in space and there is no need to keep trying. Everyone has a moment of realisation that whenever s/he senses something which might be space s/he is wrong because it cannot be that. The only solution is to stop wasting time on trying to sense space and let it go. It makes the practice effortless and very effective at the same time.
When you practice awareness of space, the feeling deepens in the way that during the exercise you feel borders of your body become blurred and you are not sure where you start and where you end. It comes with gentle experience of feeling lighter, softer and brighter. After the exercise you find it easier to enjoy and immerse with any activity you perform and physical exercises are much easier. You feel fresher, more relaxed and energised at the same time.
With regular practice people feel that they become something bigger than their mind and their body. I mean you are still aware of who you are but you feel expanded beyond it. Whatever happens in the mind (worries, problems, excitements) emerges from the vast space you are always aware of, is surrounded and permeated by space and dissolves in space and this process continues (e.g. you are not hooked to one obsessive thought for the whole day). It is because worrying thoughts are not stuck in the centre of your attention. You have the ability to see what is happening around them and you can see through them. You are aware of the background of things and you see that there is a lot of love and peace around you all the time.
You can watch what Eckhart Tolle has to say about space.
I have been practicing space awareness for last 5 years. There are still busy days when the world grabs me with its constant buzz and overwhelms me with its affairs. I shrink my mind to a small piece of reality being fully focused on problems to solve and issues to address. However, it takes less and less effort to expand again and feel the vastness of space not divided by any borders. It naturally makes a worry, stress and physical pain very easy to dissolve.
You can try a simple exercise to experience for yourself how space awareness and diffusing attention feels like from here.
1) This paragraph is a quotation from , Prof. Physics UC Berkeley, author “Physics for Future Presidents”