Quantum physics, also called quantum mechanics, is an evolution of the physics most of us studied in school. It’s been around for a few centuries, and was most notably first concretely theorised about, by Max Planck in the early 20th century. And yet, it’s still a novelty – even an unknown – to most of us. This may not seem very important for therapists, but it turns out that quantum theory may actually apply to our bodies and minds in an exciting, perhaps unexpected way.
Physicist Greg Kuhn has outlined the four main principles of quantum physics. To me, this is the most helpful basic explanation I’ve ever come across:
As the study of quantum physics has evolved, many people have wondered if mental and emotional energy could have an impact on a person’s physical being. This may not be as farfetched as it sounds. Countless scientific and medical studies have shown that positive activities like meditation, laughter, and spending time with friends and loved ones, can have impressive positive effects on the body. Numerous studies like the ones cited here have also shown that positive thoughts, whether focussed on an issue or in general, can do impressive things, like reduce recovery time from surgery or illnesses, deal with chronic pain, and boost the immune system.
But could these concepts go even further? For many quantum physicists, there’s the question of what we could accomplish if we focused our energy a certain way. It would have to be a deep-set effort – almost a belief. For example, many quantum physicists, including Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr, think that reality itself might be based simply on what each of us believes is there. So, if we were all able to accept that, we could think so differently about reality that we could shift things.
You may be thinking of something like the scene in ‘The Matrix’ where Neo bends the spoon with his thoughts, and this actually could be a part of what we might ultimately be able to accomplish if we were to give up the notion of a concrete physical reality. But what interests me even more is what we could do for our own health. What if you could disintegrate a tumor, or repair a fractured bone, simply by realizing that, at the atomic level, these things are made up of clusters of energy?
It’s not an easy concept to wrap one’s mind around, and certainly the way most of us currently experience reality doesn’t help. And if you’re feeling bad about not being a revolutionary thinker, don’t: Even Albert Einstein found it hard to believe that physical reality was purely objective.
Still, being open to this kind of thinking could be helpful. Imagine what it could mean if we could use our energy to make actual changes in our bodies. Studies like the ones I've mentioned have shown some compelling evidence that this could be the case. And what if it could also work in other ways? Imagine if we could use our energy to encourage weight loss, or change the shape of our bodies. It’s estimated that 63% of adults and 25% of children in Australia are obese or overweight. If we could learn to apply quantum theory to how we see and focus our energy on our bodies, this would be a non-issue. Physical issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as mental and emotional ones like bullying and low self-esteem, would be problems of a bygone era.
Some quantum physicists have already begun to explore and tout this concept, including Kuhn, whose 2012 book Why Quantum Physicists Don’t Get Fat reminds us: ‘The observer is an active participant in everything she observes and in fact co-creates what she observes through her expectations.’ In a nutshell, this means we get to create our own reality. The impact in terms of creating the life we want to live is HUGE.
We have a long way to go, of course, before quantum physics affects how all of us envision our everyday lives. But at the very least, these ideas can encourage us to meditate and focus on thinking that will allow us to be kind to our bodies, and let the positive energy in.