Meditation and quantum gravity
In all mind-body practices (yoga, qigong, meditation, martial arts, dance, etc), we experience a palpable downward force pulling toward Earth. Gravity. We know it exists, and we know its constant influence is relentless: slipping on a wet tile floor, dropping a cell phone, knocking over a cup of hot tea. Gravity is so much a part of our daily life that it is easy to overlook its importance.
Newton explained gravity in a clean and tidy way: a force pulling toward the center of the Earth. Then Einstein came along and turned the Newtonian idea of gravity on its head. He explained that gravity is a product of the curvature of space. Bodies are not acted upon directly by a force exerted on them, but they are compelled to bend along with the curvature of space. Gravity is a phenomenon that continues to cause even the most cutting-edge scientists to scratch their heads. A theory of quantum gravity is in the works, yet much remains unclear. Science is certain gravity exists, but we still know very little about exactly how it functions in the larger view of things.Let us turn for a moment to a simple observation about gravity made by ancient yogis and mystics. For a person interested in discovering greater vitality and fulfillment, gravity is studied not by means of instruments or mathematical equations, but within the domain of direct experience. Using the body-mind as a laboratory, yogis understood that gravity was a constant force. As such, they sought to cultivate an active relationship with gravity in a way that supported their practice. They treated gravity as one of the many observable expressions of cosmic energy (prana, qi, ki). They found that gravity could be “harvested” to support the health of body and mind. They explained that gravity’s obvious effect was experienced as the downward pull toward the Earth. They described this as "descending energy." They also noticed another, perhaps more subtle, responsive force going the opposite direction. They called this "ascending energy."
Conventionally, we know that there is a reactive force corresponding to gravity. Visualize a falling object, say a ball. Once it hits the floor, it will bounce back up a certain distance, depending on its weight, speed, density, and so on. What yogis discovered is that this reactive force is also operative in objects as they remain in continuous contact with Earth—namely the human body. Because there is a constant “falling” of the body, there is also a corresponding “bouncing up.” This is going on even when our feet don’t leave the ground.
This is not observed visually as an up-and-down movement, but felt inwardly more like the movement of gentle winds. Yogis found that rising and descending energies are in perfect balance in the natural world. Rain falls down to Earth. Water in a pond evaporates up to Heaven. These corresponding movements are the basis of circulation. The same rising and falling energies are moving in and through our bodies. This creates a perpetually self-renewing flow of Vital Force.
Through awareness, proper alignment, and natural breathing, we harmonize with this circulatory flow of energy.
Gravity’s constant downward pull is a big help for spiritual seekers, meditation practitioners, movement artists. By its very nature, gravity can pull even the subtlest of things downward. When we cultivate good body mechanics and natural posture, even thoughts will “descend” to a lower center. The head becomes lighter and the belly more stable. In our practice of meditation, we allow gravity to guide the feeling of Being to a lower point. Gravity assists our journey from identification with thinking (head) to Presence (belly).
As we relax and notice this descending quality, the corresponding ascending property has a spontaneously uplifting effect. If we try to lift ourselves up artificially, we disconnect from gravity and waste energy. This produces, at best, a faint imitation of lightness. As it turns out, genuine lightness and authentic presence result from being grounded.
The force of gravity is operative at every level of our experience: physical, mental, emotional...in all Nine Petals. Learning to harvest gravity is an important and often overlooked aspect of meditative practice.