I recently saw, The Theory of Everything, about the life of Jane and Stephen Hawking. A little sappy, but still an engaging story that contemplates the transformations of love and physics – specifically the differences between quantum mechanics and general relativity.
Physicists have been trying for decades to unite the micro and macro versions of the universe and have come up with ideas like String and Multiverse Theory to connect them.
In yoga, I work with the concepts of yama and niyama, overall disciplines and observances that I undertake to prepare for the deeper stages of ashtanga or eight-limbed yoga. The yama are universal concepts of engaging in the world. They make everything less wavy and smooth like the gravitational field spelled out in general relativity. The niyama are attributes of practice I bring to my individual life. Kind of like quantum mechanics…how I connect and bond with my practice.
In The Theory of Everything, relationship, inquiry and acceptance run through the plot. In my practice I am focusing on both aparigraha, non-grasping (a yama) and isvara pranidhanat, understanding and reflecting on the divine or a higher universal power (a niyama).
The Hawkings work with these same concepts throughout their lives…they are now in their 70’s…and there is no sign that the work will end.
Their relationship reminds me that we all become attached and detached and attached and detached…a powerful pulsating cycle. At the same time we grow and expand until death where we collapse in on ourselves like black holes.
The Shiva Mahapurana holds the story of good vs. evil dueling it out around Mt. Meru in order to receive the elixir of immortality. One way to think about this battle between devas and asuras is a battle between quantum mechanics and general relativity. The amrita as elusive to those Gods and supernatural demons in the trenches as the theory of everything is to mere mortals.
What I’ve realized is that the thing that ties all these theories together is LOVE. Not just love between the Hawkings or the love I have for my family and friends, but the Love that is ever present in our universe just waiting to be tapped into. It’s magnetic and gravitational. It’s both the tiniest and largest of particles. In its purest form the molecules of love are present in both our micro and macro worlds.
It’s what binds us and it’s what sets us free. It’s the true elixir of immortality.
-Brette Popper, Brette is publisher and founder of YogaCity NYC