Stars and Atoms

stars at the galactic core

Start this trip with the starry night sky. Remember the last time you looked at a clear sky full of stars. Have you ever tried to imagine how much space there is out there? How far apart the stars are? I doubt we really can, but its as good a feeling for spaciousness as you’re likely to run into.
Here on earth we know that we are solid beings, at least much more solid than the vastness of interstellar space. Or are we?
Last week I was inspired to briefly take my astronomer’s cap off the wall and play with a few numbers. If you imagine that the sun is the nucleus of an atom, how far out in the solar system would the edge of that atom be? It turns out that even the densest atom (uranium) would be several times the size of Pluto’s orbit, and the most spacious atom (hydrogen) would be 15 times Pluto’s orbit.
So the atoms in our body are relatively more spacious than the solar system! So we are actually full of space. Take your vision of the stars and project it inwards. Feel the expansiveness of this. Keep breathing.

Actually both “outer space” and inner space are full of stuff. Outer space has thin gases, comets and magnetic fields in it, and our atoms are “full” of electrons. You might think of these later as comets whizzing around (they are actually slightly smaller)*. In a real way there is as much or more “space” in our bodies as in the solar system. So now I thought, looking at some glorious Hubble images**, what about the galaxy?

After all there are more cells in our body than stars in the Milky Way, which is a number that is on the order of the national debt! In other words, mind numbingly large. In terms of atoms, there are actually more atoms in your body than stars in the Universe!*** but lets stick with the galaxy for now, which is something we can at least pretend we can imagine.

deepfield galaxies

It turns out that the distance to the nearest star is roughly the same scale as the size of a hydrogen atom. The interstellar distance in the center of the galaxy, is similar to the size of a uranium atom. So stars in the galaxy are a reasonable analogy to the spacing of atoms in your cells.

We are back with the night sky, but as a reflection of you. Take a moment to really feel your body as a galaxy. Imagine the stars and the space. As above, so below.

There is that much space, or vacuum inside us! Space which is full of infinite energy, infinite creative potential. In quantum physics the vacuum is a sea of virtual particles popping in and out of existence very rapidly. Metaphysically the void is the gateway to consciousness and the creative potential of the universe.

Just imagine that all the physical space inside you is room for your spiritual self and Spirit to play, create, and heal. You are mostly full of consciousness and spirit! Don’t think about this, just invoke it, remember an image of the galaxy and feel that inside yourself. Let the knowing of this well up from your body and your soul. Notice what arises for you in this spaciousness. Appreciate the amazing vastness and complexity of your own being, powerfully alive with life force and Spirit.
In this season of “darkness”, we remember and rebirth the light. But it is right here inside each of us all the time. Happy Holidays!

*All cosmic-particle analogies are, just that. Things operate quite differently at atomic scales, but the general point about scales is not altered.
** The Galactic Core
***Deep Space Galaxies, video
(© 12/2009)

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