Image for The Gathering Pod A Martha Beck Podcast Episode #145 How to Play with the Conscious Universe
About this episode

In this episode of The Gathering Room: How to Play with the Conscious Universe, Martha talks about the synchronicities and “God winks” that occur when we realize we're all one field of consciousness. To learn how to start picking up what the universe is actually saying to you—and feel its deep calm as Martha guides you through her Silence, Stillness, and Space meditation—be sure to listen to this fascinating episode.

How to Play with the Conscious Universe

Martha Beck:

Welcome to the Gathering Room. How are you doing today? I am doing well. I was writing a book about the universe and reading a book about elephants, and it made me think about something that a very skillful researcher and statistician named Dean Radin has called the conscious universe. Dean Radin, he is a very solid scholar. I have spoken to him and I have actually asked him about research that I could do at one point, and he was like, “Such a straight arrow in scientific terms.” The guy does scrupulous research, and his research indicates that everything around us is kind of conscious or completely conscious and responding to us and reacting to us depending, in some way, upon how our energy is. I know that sounds woo-woo, but there’s a tremendous amount of research in different fields that shows that something’s going on there. I’ve probably talked about almost all of it over the years on the Gathering Room. There’s this stuff about people knowing who’s going to call them on the phone. People can do that, but 90% of people can do that at a rate that is like 1,000 to one against chance.

There are things like… This one is good. So there are these things called random number generators, and they sit around in universities and their whole thing is to… They function according to the decay of uranium atoms, which is completely random, and their only job is to spit out a line of ones and zeros at exactly the same probability, 50/50 probability, bing, bing, bing, bing. And what you find is that usually the random number generator put out a random assortment of zeroes and ones. But they noticed at some point that when someone was near a random number generator, especially if they had a lot of feelings, the random number generator would be less random at weird degrees, like beyond chance. So suddenly, instead of ones and zeros being 50/50, you get almost all ones or almost all zeros at a level that was not very likely according to random probability. We’re talking about 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 to one odds against it being random.

So all these random number generators, they’re all over the world in different universities. And one thing that happened to them is that on September 11th, 2001, all the random number generators in the world stopped being random at a precipitous rate. And this happened about two hours before the first terrorist attack came on the first tower. So suddenly… I was going to show you on my phone. I was going to hold my phone up and show you the graph of how it went. And then I realized I’m on Instagram, I’ll be using my phone. The universe is conscious. I’m not so much. Anyway. If you look at the line, it’s going beep, beep, beep, random, random. And then about two hours before the attacks on 9/11, the line just goes, and it stayed elevated for hours and hours and hours, and a couple of days even it still wasn’t back within a normal probability. Another time that it did that was when the O.J. Simpson verdict was read after the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

So there’s something about these machines that’s responding to something that’s important to humans. We think, we don’t know. All they know is that the numbers are different. The reason I was thinking about elephants, I was reading this book about elephants and how they seem to grieve the death of loved ones, beloved elephants. Well, there was a man in South Africa named Anthony Lawrence, and he was known as the elephant whisperer. And I actually knew someone who was going to work with him and they couldn’t because he died. He passed away. He passed away at his home in South Africa and his whole life, he had been rescuing elephants.

So there was a time in South Africa when some of the elephants were clashing with human populations and they went in and they called the herd, which is something that they’ve done with deer and elk and like that in various places and never thought anything of it. The thing is elephants remembered it. They were severely traumatized. Many elephant families herds were severely traumatized and would remember these humans coming in and killing their family and they would attack them later on. They held a grudge.

And Anthony Lawrence stopped… Well, he was a big part of stopping this culling practice and saving a lot of elephants that had been wounded or that would’ve been killed, and he would ship them to a different place, and he would interact with them and get them situated. And when he died, I was actually in South Africa at the time, I believe, and the day he died from two different parts of Africa that were not even in South Africa, I don’t think they might’ve been over the border in Zimbabwe or somewhere, but two big herds of elephants walked something like 200 miles to his house where he was dying, and they stayed around the house for a few days and then they left. And no one knows why or how they knew.

I was thinking about another very good naturalist, a botanist named Monica Gagliano who is at the university of… She’s in Australia. I don’t remember the name of the university, but it’s a good one. And she has put out all this amazing research showing that plants can hear things, make sounds that they hear from each other, react with antipathy towards something. And what she does is she goes into the rainforest and she works with these South American rainforest shamans, and she does these things called [foreign language 00:06:42] where she goes in into this hut and she eats a very limited diet consisting of one plant of some species, and then maybe rice gruel or something, very restricted diet. And she does that and she stays in this hut and dreams and whatever. And after a while, the plant begins to talk to her. That species of plant tells her what it’s all about, and what she could do as research, and it sounds really nutty, but she goes and does the experiments and they tend to work out.

So she’s able to show this weird evidence, but people can replicate it. It obeys the laws of science except she says she gets it from the plants. I was reading about her in preparation for the Gathering Room today, and I read that Monica Gagliano told a reporter for the New York Times that she once, and I’m quoting now, accidentally bent space and time while playing the ocarina, an ancient wood instrument, in a redwood forest.

And that made me think of a thought. As you know, one of my partners in life and work and love is Rowan Mangan, also known as The Gracious Badger. Look it up. And she went to the redwood forest once and she was traveling around. I should probably let her tell this story, but I went back with her so I feel qualified to tell this. We drove around this redwood forest from town to town to town, and then there was one place that was really felt strange and special, and Rowan said, “I want to show you this place.” And she said, “I especially want to know how far it is from the last town and for the other things we’re passing.” And it took us like an hour, an hour and a half to get from the town to this place. And she traveled that before and she seemed to travel on and on and on. But when she checked her watch, it had only been like 10 minutes, and she was in this place.

I think I’ve told you all about how I was driving to something in Wyoming across a long distance, and I was worried because I was late and I wanted to get there on time. And as I was driving along with my speedometer at 70 miles an hour, which was okay for the road out there in rural Wyoming, the mileposts were going back past me so fast. I couldn’t understand it. I kept looking at the speedometer, 70 miles an hour and then these mile things. So I started timing the mileposts going by, and then I calculated how fast I was going according to the rate at which I was going past the milepost, and it was like 180 miles an hour, but the speedometer said 70 and I had it on cruise control. I got there. I finished this four hour trip in like an hour and a half.

So when I read that Monica Gagliano was bending time with an ocarina, I was like, “Well, what else is new? I need an ocarina clearly, and I will go back to the redwood forest.” This is wacky. This is not the thing for Western science. We don’t talk about things like this. And yet, if you are willing to acknowledge that you don’t know everything about the universe and you are willing to play with the idea that the universe is conscious, an interesting thing can happen. I was writing about it in my book. I was writing about how you learn to master anything that interests you. And the way you learn to master anything that interests you is you look at someone who’s doing it at a very high level, then you set your sights… I’ve talked about this before. You set your sights on doing it just as well, then you try, and you fail, and then you figure out why you failed, and you try again. And this is called dedicated practice or deep practice.

So I was writing about this and Rowan came in and she said, “I have to show you something that just came up on my Instagram.” So I highlighted the word I was working with, which was dedicated practice, and I put a highlight on it so I could find my place when I went back to writing after she left. And I said, “What is it? What did you find?” And she said, “Here’s this study showing that you can gain mastery faster if you do something called dedicated play.” So it’s the same as dedicated practice, but it’s more playful. And in fact, then Karen came in later and said, “It takes 400 iterations of a skill or an idea before you form a new neuron connection unless you are playing. If you’re playing, it can take only 10 repetitions to wire a new neuron circuit.” Now, I got this information, the stuff from Rowan came at the moment I was typing the words deep practice, dedicated practice, dedicated play.

During earlier research for my book, I was typing along and I thought I need to read Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear. It’s an old book, but it’s a classic and it’s the best description of healthy fear I can find. I was typing to a friend, “I need to read Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear again.” As I’m typing that, I get an email that says, “Hi, you don’t know me. My name’s Gavin de Becker. Google me, you’ll find out I’m a real person.” So this happens to me all the time. And why does it happen? I’m not totally sure. I think we’re all one field of consciousness, and when you realize what you really are, you are conscious of world as self and self as world. So the world responds to you kind of the way part of your body will respond to you.

Here’s the thing, your higher self that’s connected that way does not have the priorities of your small limited self, and it is not interested in giving you lottery numbers, but it’s very interested in showing you that it’s conscious and playing with you. And how do you do that? This entire book, it starts from the premise, “Let’s be less anxious.” Everybody’s anxious. There’s a huge global epidemic of anxiety disorder. So how do we get rid of anxiety? And it turns out that if you calm yourself enough, as you get calmer and calmer and calmer, what happens is that you start to pick up what the universe is actually saying to you because the universe itself is extremely calm, it’s extremely loving. There’s no perturbation in it at all. We’re going to do our meditation in a few minutes and you’ll feel this deep peace.

So as I wrote the part, the book about anxiety per se, I was kind of like… As soon as I started writing about the alternative to anxiety, which is to go deeper and deeper and deeper in the direction of curiosity and creativity, all these synchronicities started happening to me much more often and with much more emphasis like a lot more God wings, where God just goes, “Hello, I just thought I bring you this new research at the moment you’re writing the words so that you know consciousness is responding to you.” The title of this is How to Play with the Conscious Universe, and the way you do it is you realize that the consciousness of the universe is very loving, very calm, and it’s not afraid for you at all. It knows that you’re consciousness. So that’s like the ocean being afraid for a drop of water. The ocean is taking care of the drop of water. The drop of water is indistinguishable from the energy.

So the idea that you could be in danger becomes absurd when you truly shift identity away from this small hairless ape to the consciousness that has been looking out through your eyes since before you were born. In your mother’s womb, it was already looking around going, “This is weird.” So the idea is to somehow get deeply calm enough to catch the vibe of what’s real. And the calmer you get, the more miracles you can expect and the less you will try to cause them. Everything will be all right. And this is why they always say you get what you want after you stop wanting it because then you drop into total calm. And then the other part of you that is what you see as the world can react to you the way your hand or your foot reacts to a message from your brain, but it really requires that vibration of deep calm. And if you play with it, then doing it just 10 times will wire a new neuron synapse and you’ll have a play with the universe synapse in there that you can revisit and strengthen and elaborate and grow.

So that is what I wanted to talk to you about, and I thought we could do the space stillness and silence meditation, which we do every week, and we’ll get a lot closer to that. So as we go into this meditation, I want you to just think… I want you to invite the consciousness of the universe to play with you. Don’t specify how you want it to show up, then you’ll get tense and that’ll kill the effect. So just say, “Come play with me. Come on, let’s play.” And then we’ll get really calm. And if you can stay in that calm, the thing about writing for six hours a day about calm is it really gives you calm. And then it’s just crazy how much the universe responds to your inner life. Your outer life turns out to be your inner life.

So let’s do the meditation. For anybody who’s new, welcome to this. For those of you who are coming back, we’re going in again. So get your feet and hands relaxed. Sit, stand or lie down in the most comfortable way you can. And start by silently asking yourself, “Is it possible for me to imagine the distance between my eyes?” Repeat that a few times to yourself. “Can I imagine the distance between my eyes?” There we go. Then, “Can I imagine the distance between the top of my head and the bottom of my chin? Can I imagine the distance inside my head?” Try this one, “Can I imagine the distance between the crown of my head and the base of my spine? Can I imagine all the atoms between the top of my head and the base of my spine?” Trillions of them, and they’re almost all made of empty space.

So then think, “Can I imagine the space in the atoms in my head, my face, my spine, my chest, my arms and legs? Can I imagine the vacuum of space that underlies the atmosphere I’m breathing and my body and the room I’m in?” It’s all seamlessly connected with the emptiness in the atoms of your body. “So can I imagine the space between my head and the Andromeda Galaxy? Can I imagine the silence that lies under every sound and make sound possible?” Listen for it, and then feel for the stillness. “Can I imagine the stillness in which all movement, the beating of my heart, the waves of my brain, everything is occurring?”

I say there we go, because it’s such a tangible sensation for me when you all drop in. Right now, you are exactly the kind of creature the universe wants to play with. And I think it loves playing with humans because we know stuff in ways that many animals don’t, many objects don’t, apparently elephants do. I don’t know, but let’s go and answer some questions here though none of them can be perfectly answered. We’re just going to hang out here, and I don’t know because that is the most honest position the mind can take, the only true statement the mind can make, says Nisargadatta, is, “I do not know.” We could all be dreaming.

All right. Mary says, “Do the random number generators respond to events irrespective of the country where the catastrophe or dysregulating event takes place? For example, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami or the current bombing of Gaza.” Apparently, yes. I haven’t read any updates on it recently, but it responded to a lot of different events. And there was a thing called the Global Consciousness Project that was set to work like monitoring this. So you can probably go to their website and see exactly how it’s reacting to things like that. But it does seem to react to anything that draws huge numbers of people to one focus point of attention.

So [inaudible 00:21:24] says, “Can a lot of no from the universe be a request for a different approach?” When you go animal tracking… My friend Boyd Varty, the animal tracker says, “When the track runs out and there’s nothing there, and you really know there’s nothing there, that’s called the track of not there. And it’s learning, it’s wisdom. It tells you not there. It rules something out.” I don’t believe the universe ever says no to us. I think it just doesn’t respond when we don’t get the physics right. If you’re in the woods and you’re trying to make a fire with two sticks and you don’t use a method that brings the temperature up to 800 degrees and you don’t have enough oxygen or whatever, it doesn’t matter how righteous you’re being and how you’re keeping all the new age manifestation rules and everything, it will burn when you get the physics right. And until then, it’s simply won’t.

So the universe is never saying, “No, bad. We’re punishing you for not being good enough.” It’s just saying, “You didn’t quite get that right. Come on, play with me. You’re almost there. Play.” There’s never reproach, there is never punishment. There’s just love and this delighted willingness to play with anyone who can calm down to the level where our consciousness can connect with whatever it’s doing. So in the face of catastrophes and atrocities and genocide and everything, it’s really freaking hard to get to that place of calm. I so believe that. I also think that it is from that place that we can do the most good, even in such horrific, awful situations.

All right. A follow-up from [inaudible 00:23:12], “I get societal messages to try harder, but maybe it’s a request to try something else. Yes, I’m applying for a lot of jobs in a particular field and I’m getting nothing back.” It could be that it’s the wrong time. I was talking to a very successful scientist one day and he made some big breakthroughs after working hard for decades. He finally made all these breakthroughs and I said, “Why do you think it suddenly happened?” And confidentially, he said, “I think the universe was telling me…” He said, I actually know that I had too much ego. If I’d made those breakthroughs with the ego I was carrying through most of my life, I would’ve been destroyed. But I lost that ego. I lost my sense of self-importance. And for that reason, the universe was willing to play with me more.” Not willing, again, it’s always willing, able to access that human energy, which is really hard to access most of the time, I think, by the incredibly calm and loving energy of the universe.

Jessica says, “Do you ever get bored if you find yourself out of sync with these other dimensional events? There’s a part of me that feels gluttonous if I expect synchronous as ease constantly, but I’m so bored in three dimensions.” Why would you do anything that made you feel bored? Why would you not just jump in and start expecting synchronicities all the time? Why not? It’s fun. There aren’t any harsh rules. This is not school. This is play. It’s play, it’s play, it’s play. I was writing about how whenever we say, “Let’s play with coincidences, let’s play with synchronicities,” and then we start talking to each other about them, they happen more.

And some of you may have been way out in, I think it was in the mountains of Utah that we did a seminar and we had about 125 people and we got to this day when we were going to talk about inviting synchronicities and playing with the universe. And so we divided everyone up into groups of five and we set everybody out. And everybody had to, in their group of five, tell the story… Each person had to tell the story of a coincidence that had happened to them. And then we brought everybody in together and the group of five would choose the most interesting coincidence, and that person would come up and talk to the whole group.

So we did that, and the very first person to get up was this lovely guy, and his group was like, “You go.” They were so behind him. And he got up and it was really hard for him to start talking. It was a very personal thing he shared, I’m not going to share it, but it didn’t have anything to do with the day he was born, which he started out by reporting. He started out by saying, “I was born on,” and then he said the day, the month and the year, and it was my birthday. Have I told you this? Did I tell you this last week? I can’t remember. Time is bending. Someone’s playing the ocarina. So he gets up in a lesson on coincidences, and it happens that the two of us were born in the same 24-hour period, and he happens to mention that.

Another time speaking of elephants, I had a hat that I bought in Canada. No, it was made in Canada, I bought it in California, I took it to South Africa. And we were sitting on the deck of my friend’s house in South Africa, and someone discovered a hidden pocket in the crown of the hat, and there was a little card in there. And he took it out and he started reading it. And it was a picture of a man with an elephant, a Canadian man in Canada with an elephant. And it said, “This is Michael,” I can’t remember what his name is, “… and his favorite elephant. This hat was designed by him, and his elephant ate his hat and pooped it out three different times and it still works.”

And so he read this out loud and the people on the deck there said, “We know Michael. He comes here all the time. That elephant is from here.” And then the elephants came out and started rumbling around in the bush right by us. And I was just like, “This is so weird. I bought this hat in California, it was made in Canada, I bring it to the place where someone finally discovers the card and reads it out loud, and it’s an elephant that comes from here.” Play, play, play, play.

A couple more questions and then we’ll be done. Dalyan says, “What’s the difference between trusting the universe’s timing versus being me, being disconnected from myself, my purpose, and my pursuits?” If you trust the universe’s timing, you’re not stressed. You feel super relaxed. When it’s time to do something, there’s a big burst of energy like it’s hard not to. I wrote my first novel years ago, and it’s part of a trilogy, and then I just didn’t have any energy for the second book, I wrote two other books, and suddenly it’s like, “I’ve got to write the second novel now.” And I tried to make it happen. Couldn’t make it happen. The universe wouldn’t play with me. So I went off and played with the universe in other ways. And now, the universe wants to play with that until it changes its mind. I don’t know.

And Donna says, “Is there a way to slip into timelessness when doing this?” Guess what? There’s no way not to slip into timelessness when you do this. It is bizarre the way time bends and morphs and stretches. I may have told you about Min, I can’t remember her last name. I think her first name is Min, she’s Korean. Her last name, I think, is Pyn, P-Y-N. But she is a violin prodigy, brilliant violinist. And when she was getting really good, she had a lesson from a piano teacher who told her, “The way pianists and violinists can play these incredibly fast runs, it’s too fast for your nervous system to actually make your hands move that fast. So what you have to do is slow time with your mind and stretch it out, and then you’ll be able to play everything.” And she was like, “And how do you stretch time?” “You relax and you slow down until you connect with something that is playing with time. And then you can stretch it, you can make it short. You can get places faster than you should. You can play runs that physically aren’t possible.”

I’ve seen a video of a samurai swordsman who starts with a sword in its sheath and his assistant fires a BB at him in windy conditions across a long space, and he pulls out his sword and cuts the BB in half as it goes by. I mean, Google it. You can’t move that fast. Your brain can’t send neurons that fast, even if it could see a BB coming at that speed, at that distance. Play with the universe and time becomes exactly what Einstein said it was, which is, “Nothing more than a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

So thank you for playing with me. It’s always such fun to play together. Thanks for dropping in like we did. And just realize, once you get down there, it’s not like, “We will be solemn and calm.” Once you get calm, things get fun, and they get magical, and you’ll have a blast, and the universe will just rub your tummy, but it doesn’t mean it will give you everything you want. It’ll give you everything you really want, and that will be fabulous. And I really want to be here with you guys once a week, whenever it’s possible. And I love you for coming. Go calm yourself down and play with the universe. And I will see you right back here on the Gathering Room. Bye.

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