LOS ALTOS, CA, July 13, 2012 – For all the fanfare we’re hearing about the statistically confirmed discovery of the Higgs boson particle and what this discovery might tell us about the nature of the universe, there’s at least one big question that remains to be answered:
Where did the thought of the Higgs boson come from?
First, though, a quick primer:
The Higgs boson is an elementary particle and component of the Higgs Field, an invisible field of energy that spans the universe. This field uses the Higgs boson to interact with other particles. As these particles pass through the field, they are given mass and become heavier, just like someone swimming through a pool of molasses would feel heavier. This process causes the now-transformed particles to slow down, allowing other particles to latch on.
To put it a bit more dramatically, well-known futurist and theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku, wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article that it’s the Higgs boson that put the “bang” in the proverbial Big Bang.
“In other words, everything we see around us,” says Kaku, “including galaxies, stars, planets and us, owes its existence to the Higgs boson.”
To characterize this as a significant find would be, quite literally, an understatement of cosmic proportions. And yet for all our ability to conceive of such particles and processes, the scientific community has yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation as to the structure and elements of consciousness itself.
“Consciousness cannot be perceived, but without it there is no perception,” says physician-turned-mind-body-guru, Deepak Chopra. “It cannot be cognized, but without it there is no thought.”
Even so, there are many these days, including Dr. Chopra, who think that consciousness – as imperceptible and inexplicable as it may be – is actually at the root of everything we experience. Not just what we think but what we see, what we feel – even our health.
In this context, then, one has to wonder if even the Higgs boson would exist without our thinking it existed in the first place. Could thinking differently – about ourselves, about others, about our universe – cause us to see and to feel differently?
Nineteenth century spiritual and medical pioneer, Mary Baker Eddy, thought so. Long before the Higgs boson was even conceived, her own experiments led her to conclude that the inspired thought or consciousness “relinquishes a material, sensual, and mortal theory of the universe, and adopts the spiritual and immortal” – a process that she observed results in moral and physical transformation.
Years later, Dr. Herb Benson, founder of the Mind-Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital and director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute, came to essentially the same conclusion.
In 2008 he, along with Dr. Towia Libermann, director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, co-authored a study showing that what Benson calls the relaxation response – a physiologic state of deep rest elicited by practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and prayer – influences the activation patterns of genes associated with the body’s response to stress. In other words, different thought = different body.
Since then a number of other studies have documented how this relaxation response not only alleviates the symptoms of psychological disorders such as anxiety but also affects physiologic factors such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, and brain activity.
“For hundreds of years Western medicine has looked at mind and body as totally separate entities, to the point where saying something ‘is all in your head’ implied that it was imaginary,” says Dr. Benson. “Now we’ve found how changing the activity of the mind can alter the way basic genetic instructions are implemented.”
Which brings us back to the original – and still unanswered – question: Where did the thought of the Higgs boson come from? Does this particle exist only in our mind? Can it be manipulated by our thoughts? Is it possible that matter isn’t so much a thing as it is a perspective and, if so, could it be that by changing this perspective we might discover that man’s essential nature isn’t matter-based after all?
Maybe the most important thing we’ve learned with the discovery of the Higgs boson is that there are a lot more questions to be answered and a lot more discoveries to be made; discoveries of both cosmic proportion and, perhaps more importantly, spiritual dimension.
Eric Nelson is a Christian Science practitioner whose articles on consciousness and health have appeared in a number of local, regional, and national publications. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in California.
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