Spooky Action From A Distance…Two Truths and a Lie

“In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior.

The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as ‘locality,’ which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated ‘spooky action at a distance,’ and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion.”

— John Markoff, “Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Study Suggests ‘Spooky Action’ Is Real“, New York Times, October 21, 2015

The article quoted above came to my attention during a social gathering in the basement of a convent in Wisconsin one night last week. (I know, it seems like there might be something funny to say about that, especially if you’ve never known any nuns personally. But trust me, many sisters are quite social.) It was another two days before I had the opportunity to read the article myself. As Markoff states, this study is the best evidence yet for “the existence of an odd world formed by a fabric of subatomic particles, where matter does not take form until it is observed and time runs backward as well as forward.” It gave me goosebumps!

And not just because of the study’s many scientific implications. For nearly 48 hours, I had been thinking about this concept of spooky action at a distance, allowing my imagination to run wild. So imagine how I reacted upon learning that the lead scientist on the team conducting the experiments is named Hanson – the exact same last name as mine! Weird coincidence, eh?

And that’s when I stopped giving the entire concept much serious thought, because: Halloween. In late October, it is not really possible to think about something Einstein, everyone’s favorite genius, called “spooky” without thinking about spooks and other things that go bump in the night. In that moment, the (likely ill-conceived) idea for today’s Halloween post was born:

Two Truths and A Lie: Spooky Action Version

What follows are three stories about spooky occurrences (with apologies to serious scientists everywhere). Two of them I swear are totally true, and faithfully reported. The third is partly made up. You decide which is which, because I’ll never tell! (Not in this post, anyway)

Story #1: Amber Light

In the early 1990s, my parents purchased a house at auction. The home had been built and lived in by one family, the last member of whom, Amber, had recently moved into a nursing home. My parents never met her. Over the first few years of living in the house, strange things sometimes happened: doors slammed for no apparent reason; my parents would wake up in the night to discover every light on the first floor of the house turned on (despite having been shut off when my folks went to bed). They joked that George, father of Amber and builder of the house, was less than ecstatic about the renovations they were making. The parentals weren’t particularly bothered by the occasional oddities they experienced. However, none of these incidents prepared them for what happened one winter night, years after they had moved into the house.

That night, both of my parents were awakened from deep sleep at exactly the same moment, bolting upright in bed in unison. Their hearts were pounding, adrenalin coursing through their bodies.

Dad: What woke you up?

Mom: You tell me what woke you up first!

Dad: I saw a blinding light right above us, right above the bed. It was there briefly, only a few seconds, then disappeared.

Mom: I saw it too!

They were both nonplussed by the incident, and slept fitfully the remainder of the night. In full daylight the following morning, they were still a bit freaked out, unlike any of the other times unusual things had happened in the house. After discussing the incident, they formulated a theory of what had happened. My dad got online and began searching for information to confirm their theory. Eventually, he found it: Amber, the previous occupant of the house, had passed away in the night. They concluded that Amber paid one final visit to the house that had been her lifelong home.

Story #2: Cecilia’s Curse

A few years ago, I was visiting my parents in New Mexico. In a local paper, I happened to see a notice for ghost tours being conducted in Albuquerque’s Old Town and insisted that my parents accompany me on one such tour. It was a beautiful evening in Old Town, and Dad was surprised to see just how many people had turned out for the haunted tour. It was a great experience – we learned all kinds of new things about Old Town and Alubuquerque’s history. Toward the end of the tour, we arrived at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel. In all my previous visits to Old Town, I’d never seen this chapel, and I was immediately enchanted. (see video of chapel)

Once the entire tour group was inside the main chapel, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye, way off to the side, away from the group. However, I didn’t really pay much mind to her because our tour guide, who was very engaging, had begun to tell the group about various hauntings that had been reported by chapel visitors in the past. He asked if anyone in the room was named Cecilia – and my parents and I started laughing because that is the name I took for my confirmation. The guide noticed our laughter, and called us out to share. I explained my connection with Cecilia. He began to tell a story about an incident shortly after the chapel had been built. It involved someone named Cecilia or whose patron saint was Cecilia (I don’t remember which) dying mysteriously in the chapel. Ever since, women who are connected with Cecilia often see a particular ghost. After seeing the ghost, the person visited would experience something extraordinary – either good or evil.

The whole room kept looking at me as he spoke, and I was uncomfortable with the scrutiny. I began to look around the room, and my attention was caught by the figure I had seen previously. The center of the chapel was open – faithful who had attended services there in the heyday of Old Town mostly stood – but along the side of the room were niches with wooden pews in them, so that prayerful visitors had a place to sit down. I looked to my right, and saw a woman in old fashioned dress sitting in one of the niches. She was looking directly at me, and after inadvertently meeting her eyes I quickly looked away, as I usually do when I catch a stranger staring at me in a public place.

As we left the chapel, I asked my parents, “Did you see that woman sitting on the right side of the chapel? She was staring at me and freaking me out!”

My parents looked at me blankly. “Which woman?”, they asked, looking around at the members of our group.

“She wasn’t with our group,” I said. “She was in the chapel when we got there.”

“I was the first person in the chapel after our guide,” my Dad said. “There was no one in there ahead of us, the room was empty.” We laughed, and began joking about how I had seen the apparition – now I needed to expect something momentous to occur. I was a little creeped out, but joined in the good-natured joking.

On the way home, we stopped for gas. As he often does, my father returned to the car with several lottery scratch tickets. “Here you go,” he said. “I got you a ticket – it’s the least I could do since you treated us to the haunted tour!” Unbelievably, when I scratched the ticket, I had won $3,000! Apprently, the ghost was feeling benevolent that night!

Story #3: A Little Night Music

In June of 1978, my family moved from Ohio back to Iowa. For the first couple of weeks, we stayed in a hotel, waiting for the previous owners of our new house to finish moving out. When we were finally able to inhabit our new home, a good deal of work needed to be done including adding bedrooms in the basement. For the time being, my two brothers were sharing a room upstairs, while my sisters and I (three of us) were in another room. My parents had the master bedroom.

On our very first night in the house, I woke around 2:00 a.m. to the sound of unearthly music – very similar to Native American flute music – flowing through the house. No one in our family played such an instrument, and the music was very…present…is the best word I can use to describe it. I laid on my mattress on the floor, unsure what to do but terrified of the eerie music. Suddenly, someone grabbed my foot – and I jumped about a yard off the mattress!

It was my sister, Gwen. She whispered, “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”, I asked.

“You know what!,” she whispered back furiously. “That music!”

Honestly, unless you heard it, you cannot understand just how freaked out Gwen and I were. We decided we couldn’t possibly leave our room to investigate, but we also couldn’t just lay there and listen to the sound of that music in our house. On the count of three, we screamed for my dad. The music immediately stopped, but we were committed to having an adult check into it. It took several attempts to scream him awake, but eventually Dad came running into our room.

We explained what had happened, which, granted, sounded silly to him. He claimed he had been awake and hadn’t heard a thing. But we knew he had been sleeping because of the difficulty we had getting his attention. He grudgingly walked through the upstairs of the house, then opened the basement door and shouted, “If you’re in our basement playing a flute, cut it out!”

We were told to go back to bed and forget about it. My parents believed the sound was simply air moving through the a/c ducts. And they stuck to that story forever, despite the fact that in the years we lived there I never again heard that same sound. But it stuck with me, and it always frightened me when I thought of it. It had not felt welcoming.

Many years later, I was living in Cedar Rapids and working professionally in college administration. I happened to pick up a book by a man who was attempting to come to terms with his Greek Orthodox religious upbringing, which was full of mystical stories and superstitious beliefs. Only, as he delved more deeply, he discovered that mystical events tend to happen in real life, not just in his mother’s stories. He recounted the following experience of visiting a deserted chapel in the countryside of Italy (this is my retelling because I no longer own the book):

The chapel was known for being particularly lovely though in ruins. The author and his friends had gotten lost on the way there. When they arrived in the town, after dark, they were told that the chapel had recently been boarded up to keep local vandals at bey. Disappointed, they drove to the chapel anyway, and decided to attempt to get inside. At the back of the building, they discovered that someone had been there ahead of them, breaking open an entrance just large enough to squeeze through. Once inside the chapel, it was evident that very recent visitors had been up to no good – spray painted graffiti was still dripping and many items inside the chapel were smashed; litter was strewn throughout. Suddenly, low flute music was heard. It’s sound was menacing. The group stood together, discussing this sudden development, and the music got louder, building to a crescendo. Suddenly, items began flying at them from around the chapel – pieces of litter, small rocks, etc. – as if a strong wind were blowing inside the building. The author and his friends fled.

I shivered in my cozy little cottage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His description of the flute music was eerily familiar to me – I recognized it immediately. I understood the small groups’ fear upon hearing it. And I wondered what might have happened if, all those years ago, my sister and I hadn’t started screaming.

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So, which stories are true and which embellished? Feel free to guess! If you know the truth, though, don’t give it away to everyone! And, remember that when it comes to spooky actions (to paraphrase Hamlet): there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your science, Einstein!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Renewable Energy: Tapping our Inner Resources

I continued to focus on my breath, exhaling forcefully then inhaling again without a pause. Inside, I began to feel a buzzing, humming sensation similar to standing next to an electrical generator. It began at my diaphragm and radiated upward. I could feel the energy expanding and filling my body, sending electricity through my arms and up through my chest, my neck, my head. My facial muscles began to twitch involuntarily, until suddenly there was a huge pulse of internal light and I felt as if the energy that had been building inside me had just burst forth. It leaked out through my pores, and shone in a beam of light out the the top of my head. 

At least that’s how I pictured it in my minds eye.

I felt radiant, expansive, and more than usually ALIVE. After a few minutes, I spoke quietly to my friend, Melissa, who was standing next to me. “Can you feel that?” I asked.

“Your energy field is about out to here,” she said, holding her hand roughly 16 inches in front of me. “I can see it.” Truthfully, I could feel her hand before I opened my eyes, even though it was more than a foot from my body. 

Last summer I volunteered to assist my friend, Melissa, who has been getting her certification as a facilitator in guided breath work. The experience described above was from our tenth and final session last week. What I’ve felt during these sessions has varied, but the best ones have led to similar high-voltage experiences.

It’s got me thinking a lot this week about energy: how we get it, how we make use of it, how we replenish it.

As a starting point, let’s consider that Albert Einstein said energy “cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form into another.” While Einstein’s words carry the weight of scientific genius, they remind me of another quote that I have seen attributed to various famous individuals: we can be miserable or we can be happy – the amount of work is the same. I take these statements, together, to mean that we are expending energy no matter what. Whether that energy is spent procrastinating, complaining, creating or exclaiming is up to us. It is all energy.

If energy can only be transformed, then a good place to start is with fear and love. Fear is an energy that makes us smaller, causes us to contract. It vibrates on one frequency. Love is an energy that enlarges us and our world, that helps us to expand beyond previous boundaries and expectations. Love vibrates on a different frequency than fear. It seems a fairly safe bet to say that connecting with what we love is more likely to produce positive energy, and positive results, than connecting with our fears.

In my experience, authentically engaging with others and with the world around me often leads to feelings of increased energy. Authentic engagement is a form of love energy. It calls for openness and vulnerability – you have to share some true part of yourself for this to come about. With others, this can mean lowering your defenses and/or pretenses. With the world, I believe this means being open to possibilities, allowing our guarded hearts to be cracked open by beauty or the ineffable. There is a quality of permeability that is called for. We have to be willing to let what is outside us touch us on the inside, as well as to allow our deep selves to come out of hiding.

For example, risking authenticity with others has recently led to offers of mentoring and support for my creative endeavors. It has also yielded the opportunity to brainstorm with a friend about a new business venture she is contemplating. Risking authenticity means I am now actively feeling that internal buzz that signals high energy frequencies. My creative juices are flowing and I can’t seem to find enough hours in the day to address all I want to accomplish.

Another important factor that allows our energy to be transformed into something powerful is the simple step of taking action. I would never berate wishful thinking, daydreaming, or hoping – I believe that spending time in these activities allows us to open up to new ways of seeing the world and to new possibilities. However, it can also lead to an energy build-up that, if we give way to procrastination or just move on with the mundane tasks of life rather than implement some portion of what we dream about, dissipates without transforming. Worse, habitually doing this leads to negative energy – we feel like failures who have wasted our time and our talents. Feeling this way adds to the inertia we were already fighting.

The opposite is true, though, if we begin to take action. If you’ve ever spent time dreaming or wishing you could conquer some obstacle, then taken even a small step toward resolving the problem, creating the solution, or achieving the goal you’ve seen it can lead to an incredible upsurge of positive energy. Suddenly, you find you’ve moved farther faster than you thought possible. That higher energy frequency you’ve attained is allowing you to experience what has been described as “flow”. Or, as motivational speaker Tony Robbins has said, “The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.”

Now, I’ve been talking about the kind of energy that can be generated from within, from attuning your heart and your mind to things you love, things that you think of as positives. There is also the kid of energy that is generated by a healthy body – one that is fueled well with clean eating and good hydration, moves well due to exercise, and is rejuvenated by restful sleep. This kind of energy cannot be overrated in any way. However, that’s another post entirely!

In thinking about my expanding energy field during my last breath work session, it occurs to me that we all have energy reserves we may not be aware of – that these reserves are available for our use should we choose reach for them, and that they are inexhaustible. This doesn’t mean that if we begin to practice using them we will never feel our energies flagging (sometimes this happens for reasons beyond our control, such as illness). Instead, when we do feel our energies vibrating toward fear, procrastination, inaction, or isolation we have inner resources we can tap. All we need do is remember to engage with our love instead of our fear. That, and breathe.