trisha hadley

Quantum Breathing (Do you exist?)

I wrote the words below one rainy afternoon for my site onebreath, as a means to convey my take on the power that can be found in mindful breathing. I wrote them based on experience, an amalgamation of my own mindfulness journey… but they are so much more than that.


A conscious breath can be as simple as a breath noticed. 

Noticing our breath brings us into the present moment. 

It allows for depth in the human experience.

It allows this moment to become reality.


Quantum mechanics suggest it actually creates reality. That nothing truly exists until it is noticed -- until it is conscious -- and before we noticed it, it ceased to exist as a breath, but was only a probability distribution. 

While that wasn't a whole lot of words, it's a relatively deep rabbit hole into which we've stepped. (Jumped? Did I nudge you?)

Let’s look at the double-slit experiment. A very famous experiment, indeed, that forever changed our understanding of the dual nature of light. Upon further inquiry (i.e. further experiments and an understanding of the photoelectric effect), it was elucidated that the photons of light behaved like waves when measured (and thus consciously noticed) on a screen located a short distance away from the slits and light source; they behaved like particles when detected (and thus consciously noticed) at the slits. The only difference in the experiments was the location (in space and time) of the measurement. Thus, conscious awareness of the light was the key variable. (See this lecture by Dr. Thomas Campbell for more detail on these concepts and experiments.)

In the 1920s, Erwin Schrödinger postulated a further explanation for these interesting observations. He claimed that the light did not exist before measurement except as a probability distribution. (As Dr. Campbell stresses, this does not mean that the photon exists somewhere and we don't know where, but that it does not exist as a particle, only as a probability distribution.) Before it exists, it behaves like a wave with a probability distribution. After is exists, it behaves like a particle with a direct path. Its existence is dependent upon it being measured. This concept became foundational for quantum mechanics.

Let's reiterate in other words one more time: the implications of these experiments show that photons of light do not exist as particles until consciously observed. Before this, they exist only as probability distributions (i.e. they could exist, but do not yet).

So is it possible that never noticing your life -- your breath -- means that you never truly live? Not in the 'live-everyday-to-the-fullest'/carpe diem/YOLO mentality, but in the literal, scientific, quantum mechanic sense. Are you not alive if you fail to notice it? Is a conscious breath the only kind of real breath? Does a reality not exist until you create itI would argue yes. 

Create wisely. Begin by noticing.

Background image by Sebastian Glasl.