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Jewish Journal

Einstein Sums It Up

by Lia Mandelbaum

September 19, 2013 | 9:44 am

Bok Globules: Where stars and star clusters are born

"Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better" -Einstein

We often hear different religions, spiritual principles and philosophies, encouraging us to seek out the interconnectedness and oneness that always exists within the universe. Over the past few years, I have begun to recognize this “oneness” through the relationship between humanity and all of life within the natural world. My imagination has helped me to discover how science, human emotions and spirituality all coincide. What is key to this process is having self-awareness, an understanding of human behavior, and being able to recognize how they are scientifically mirrored in the natural world.

Parallels between family healing and birds

While on a vacation to my hometown, I went to go to a very meditative and reflective space along a sea wall overlooking the Tampa Bay. Upon arrival, I was disappointed by how it was drizzling, gloomy, and the waves were incredibly choppy from the strong winds. Although it was not the most ideal and serene space to be in, I felt that it was still important to find connection and beauty in what I was facing. I realized that it could be symbolic of how with life in general, it is important to be able to have the faith and recognition of the intrinsic beauty within challenging situations and relationships.

As I was standing there I began to worry about a very polarized and emotionally charged situation in my family that I had been obsessing over. I was very angry because I felt misunderstood and not seen. I was ultimately very saddened by the situation and wished for peace and healing, but my ego and fear held me back from facing them and making amends. I found myself demonizing them and treating them as “the other.”

While being reflective, there were pelicans struggling to fly as they battled against the wind currents, but I noticed how they would freely soar when they would swoop down and skim the surface of the extremely choppy waters. I later came to discover how they would freely soar due to the wind field just above the waves, created by the eddies in the lee of wave crests. I realized a great metaphor was taking place. Often times, similar to the pelicans battling the wind, we are battling a struggle within ourselves, but when we take the chance to face the choppy waters, whether that be ourselves, challenging situations or tumultuous relationships, there is a freedom that can occur as we soar and break the shackles of belief systems based in fear, anger and mistrust.

After I finally made amends with my family members, I had been invited to go to a birthday party with them, and we all caravanned there by taking the Pacific Coast Highway. As we were caravanning, similar to how we were finally united and trailing behind one another, I saw a flock of birds traveling and soaring parallel to our cars. It was incredibly symbolic to me.

Image I took while driving along Pacific Coast Highway

Finding parallels between the human struggle and the galaxy

When I made it to the birthday party with my family, I met another guest who is an incredible man in his 90’s, and not only survived the Holocaust, but prevailed through his incredible resilience and ability to transform the darkness and despair he was forced to experience into a life filled with light, love, purpose, gratitude and service to others. He has an incredible story, and I decided it would be wonderful to interview him for a blog.

As Bernd and I sat in his living room that day, it became clear to me why I was so drawn to his energy. He is a perfect example of transforming darkness into light.

A short time later, as I began to go over my notes from Bernd’s interview, I happened to glimpse down at the cover of a copy of Astronomy Magazine. I was drawn to a headline on the cover titled “Turning clouds of darkness into Stars of light” by Bruce Dorminey. I instantly thought of my friend Bernd Simon.

I learned that there are places in our Galaxy that are so dark they actually appear to be nothing at all. When the shadowy patches of clouds in the Milky Way were first seen through a telescope, astronomer’s actually thought that they were seeing holes in the fabric of space. These dark clouds, called Bok Globules, are the coldest objects in the natural universe. “Despite their apparent nothingness, these molecular clouds turn out to be exceedingly important: They are the places where stars are born.”

The connection was so clear to me. It is often in the darkest of places, that you can find the brightest of lights.

The parallels between glaciers and having an open heart and mind

About a month ago my brother and I traveled to Alaska to go on an adventure and bond with one another. While staying in Seward we went on a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park. At one point the captain stopped the boat right next to a beautiful glacier, and everyone became quiet so that we could see and hear the falling ice plummet into the water and sound like thunder.

As we were leaving the glacier, the captain of the boat mentioned something that caught my attention. I found out that although glaciers emanate different shades of blue, there is more to the picture that does not meet the eye. The ice is actually made up of crystals that act like prisms, however the ice is so dense that the white light is unable to pass through it and the blue wavelength ends up absorbing all of the other colors. The blue is brightest when it is overcast.

Similar to how a glacier is a dynamic being made of prisms, human beings are also very dynamic and colorful, but depending on how open our minds and hearts are determines the amount of light that is able to pass through us and what colors we reflect to the world. Similar to how the blue wavelength overpowers all of the other colors, when people get a “case of the blues,” it can be overpowering and we can get lost in that darkness.

Glaciers are usually wedged between two mountains and are made up of different layers of ice that have been compounded over time. Similar to glaciers, our fears and rigid beliefs can compound us and make us feel stuck and frozen when engaging with life, and limits our capacity to see the big picture. It takes us out of the present moment and closes us off from accessing all the dynamic and colorful parts of ourselves, and hampers our ability to welcome intimacy into our lives.

Similar to the thunderous falling of ice from the glaciers, I welcome the walls that I have built around me to continue to crack and come tumbling down, so that I may let in the light and let love run through me.

Einstein sums it up…

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein

May I continue to find mirrors and spiritual guidance through connecting with the natural world. With open eyes I can discover how the parallels are endless.

If you have the time... please please watch this video... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdo7s16l04g

 

This article was originally written for the website of the organization CARE- Multicultural Healing.  It's a 501(c)3 that helps to facilitate the dialogue about the (sometimes awkward) attempts to integrate a multicultural world view into the mainstream mindset of the field of psychology.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Lia Mandelbaum is getting her degree in social work at California State University-Los Angeles, and has an internship at Barbour & Floyd Mental Health Services.

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