Certainty is not required

dive in

Bring all of your doubts and hesitations to the practice with you.

Pile them up in front of you, like so many treasures, as you sit down on your cushion to meditate. If you wait for certainty to arrive before you sincerely start practicing meditation (or any contemplative method), you’ll never begin.

As soon as you notice some desire in yourself to awaken — as soon as you receive some teachings that apply to your life — don’t wait another day. Don’t let your inner yearning be diminished by the excuse, “I don’t yet know enough.”

Allow the heart’s longing to pull you forward anyway.

Put to good use what you already know.

This is the secret of how to gain momentum on the path.

Uncertainty holds the promise of surrender within it. Even after twenty years of practice there will be doubts and hesitations. It’s wonderful news, actually. It means we don’t need to have all the answers to achieve profound results on the spiritual path.

We can embrace uncertainty unabashedly. We can take refuge in “I don’t know,” dive into the great unknown. There is an open quality to this, a hidden potency. It brings freshness and curiosity to our practice. This is what is meant by the expression, “beginner’s mind.” A beginner is unsure and a little excited to see what might happen if they just go for it. There is a sense of playfulness to the whole dynamic.

This is the spirit of our practice.

How is your heart?

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That’s what we need to be asking each other.

This simple act — performed with genuine interest and willingness to mindfully listen — has the power to change everything.

This one simple question can break the invisible walls between us. It opens a lens into our shared human narrative. It reveals a clear view of our common ground, and dissolves the artificial separation we’ve created by upholding an “us and them” society.

Husband. Wife. Parent. Child. Teacher. Student. Democrat. Republican. Christian. Muslim. Arab. Jew. Black. White.

We too easily polarize. Square off. Assume our defense postures.

There is no “them.”

We are all us.

Each of us is rich with experience and vast in complexity. At the most essential level, we all yearn for similar things: safety, acceptance, love, fulfillment. But we are too easily intoxicated by the shiny objects that so effectively distract us from ourselves: the rat race, the trivial moments of fleeting entertainment, the promise of immediate gratification. We too often hide from each other in our little bubbles of distraction, then suffer the pain of isolation in private. As a result, so many among us struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction, rejection, self-hatred.

More often than not, these aren’t pathological in and of themselves, but symptoms of a wider-spread pandemic: intimacy deficiency.

This is the pathology of our time.

Separation.

This affliction plagues us in body and mind. It ripples though all Nine Spheres of our lives; our homes, our communities, our countries. The implications are global.

The suffering of separation is not curable with pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.

The medicine we need is connection.

Human connection.

It doesn’t have to be sticky or complicated or expensive. Anyone can administer the medicine of connection. It just takes a dose of mindful courage and the willingness to ask an honest question: How is your heart? If we can listen without judgement or expectation, a space of trust and vulnerability is created. The speaker feels safe and seen. The listener realizes they are not alone in harboring an ocean of feelings about life’s joys and pains. We begin to see ourselves in each other.

Through presence and connection, the human heart can release its burdens. A sense of community emerges; one that is free of the us-and-them of culture, religion, race, sexual preference, etc. As separation breaks down, our basic sanity is restored — the heart lightens — and we begin to live together with a greater sense of awareness, cooperation and compassion.

 

A Divine Love Affair

Samantabhadra Yab Yum

Unmodified, all appearances are innately divine.

Each changing phenomenon — impermanent like a flash of light — is pristine and perfect as it is. Arising without end, dissolving without beginning, the primordial stream of appearances is equaled only by luminous awareness itself. Perhaps that is why She chooses only Him as her consort.

And yet the two lovers are not two at all; nor are they one.

For who can tell where the ocean ends and the horizon begins?

Who can gaze upon the moon without appreciating the great intimacy she shares with vast open space?

And when beautiful notes of music bring tears to our eyes, are those vibrating sounds not in love play with silence?

And the unbroken line of ancestors that came before us, that procession of copulating mothers and fathers as old as time itself, have they not all passed effortlessly into the great mystery; flesh and bones utterly and perfectly dissolved, like mist into sunlight.

And yet here we are, you and I, these bodies and minds, wonderful temporary appearances, like all phenomena. Every thought, sensation, dream, aspiration — every single experience, and all forms — self-perfected . . . then gone.

Absolutely gone.

This is the divine love affair; awareness and appearance dwelling in the constant bliss of non-separation.

Already and always, this union is the very foundation of our direct experience.

The question is: do we recognize it?

The Union of Movement and Stillness

Revital Carroll Sedona

Stillness and movement are part of a singular continuum. They are a dyad; like teacher and student, dancer and audience. Each half of the duet finds meaning only in relationship with the other.

For example, in the practice of seated meditation, we keep the body relatively still. This means we don’t intentionally move the limbs, adjust our posture, or control our breathing once we’re settled. However, inside of this relative stillness, there are many layers of movement.

The diaphragm lifts up and presses down. Breath moves in and out. The heart goes on beating its rhythm. Blood moves through veins and capillaries.

In seated meditation the idea  is to allow the inborn rhythms of movement to happen naturally by releasing tension and softening into a dynamic sense of stillness. We might say that it is the practice of entering stillness that allows us to begin to notice — and more deeply experience — the subtle expressions of movement.

On the other hand, through the practice of mindful movement (yoga, qigong, dance, etc.), we come to discover a sense of stillness within motion. It is through the open quality of awareness that we are able to have this recognition. When body, breath, and mind are coordinated in a moment of mindful movement, there is a feeling of no-time. It seems that the world stops, and in that pause, everything comes into high definition focus. The body moves while something else remains totally motion-less.

Awareness.


There is something almost eternal about moments like this.

Movement and stillness are always in union, like silence and sound, sky and clouds.

Everything we do in our practice is to re-discover this innate union, to become familiar with the feeling of abiding in the natural state of non-separation.

What is Natural Law?

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There are three undeniable laws that govern the way of all things: constancy, change, and interdependence. Change is the quality of movement and alternation. Nothing stays the same. Everything is becoming something else. Transformation. The body is always changing. Thoughts are always changing. Emotions are always changing. Physical sensations, always changing. Likes, dislikes, dreams, aspirations, intuitions — all are constantly changing.

The river of change is unstoppable. Not a single thing endures.

Nobody understands perfectly how or why the law of change works. Science has its ever-evolving theories. Religion postulates a god whose will is the driving force. Astrology has it explanation. Theories and elaborate equations are valid and interesting. Yet, in terms of spiritual awakening, it is not particularly relevant to understand how the Law of Change affects our personal story. It is essential to see how acting in contradiction to the law of change perpetuates our own Cycle of Affliction. To this end, it is helpful to investigate our relationship with change. When we pay attention to the changing dynamics within our own experience, we have the possibility of insight into the universal principles of natural law.

This insight is one of the most direct pathways to awakening.

Constancy is the complementary opposite of change. The reason we  notice change is because there is a continuous background that is unchanging. Openness. Constancy is the backdrop upon which change happens — like the silver screen behind a motion picture. In terms of visual observation, we call it space. While reading this blog, you see the words on the screen and give little notice to the white background. When you enter a room, you notice what stands out. If you look around the location you are in right now, what is the most plentiful thing you see?

Space.

Between and around every object is space. Between your eyes and the screen, space. Can you see it? Can you see the open space?

In terms of listening, constancy is silence. The reason we can hear musical notes is because of the silence between them. In fact, silence is always there. It is a continuous medium within which sound resonates. Like space, silence doesn’t stand out unless you notice it.

In terms of thoughts, constancy is awareness. Are you aware that you are thinking right now? At first glance, thoughts appear as a continuous stream. When we observe more closely, we find that thoughts are similar to musical notes. Between each thought is a gap. Like objects in a room, thoughts stand out because of the space between them. Just as silence is continuous behind sounds, awareness is constant behind and between thoughts. As we become more aware, we begin to notice the unchanging dimension behind all phenomena.

And yet constancy has two sides. On the other hand, the Law of Constancy refers back to the Law of Change. It says that change is the only constant. If this is the case, what appears to be unchanging must also change. Our dualistic mind, with its love for tidy boxes, does not like this idea at all. It threatens intellectual certainty. It rocks the boat. Change and constancy are supposed to be opposites; distinct and fundamentally separate.

But it’s not that cut and dried.

Observable things have shape, size, duration, texture, or some definable quality that stands out. These can be thoughts, sensations, emotions, plants, people, planets, galaxies. Anything. We can use the word Appearance to describe anything that has distinctive qualities. If we are uncertain whether something meets this description, we can ask four questions to clarify:

  1. Is it observable?
  2. Does it have a beginning?
  3. Does it change?
  4. Does it have an end?

A yes answer to one question automatically confirms the other three.

Appearances are anything observable, changing, and temporary. These parameters apply regardless of size, scope, duration, or subtlety: a passing cloud, a tree, the sun, a dream, a human body. Now, for the interesting part: Appearances only arise in conjunction with their partner, Awareness. Awareness is unchanging. Awareness is non-preferential. Awareness is vital, luminous, and cognizant. It is complete openness.

Total acceptance.

It would seem that Awareness and Appearance are polar opposites, like Republicans and Democrats, oil and water. Yet the Law of Continuity says that opposites are actually one continuum. Think of a magnet with two poles. Positive and negative are distinct, yet both are part of one magnet. If you cut a magnet in two, both pieces will have positive and negative poles.

The Law of Change says that everything is becoming something else.

When we apply the laws of continuity and change to Awareness and Appearance, we discover a singular unbroken reality with two expressions. The life-matrix is “more than one, less than two,” as mystics and yogis are fond of saying. Like a magnet with two poles, Awareness and Appearance are one body. Form-emptiness. Energy-consciousness. Samara-Nirvana. Body-Mind.

The Law of Interdependence states that nothing has singular individuated existence. All things exist in relationship.

No single thing exists by itself. All things are interdependent. And all things are composite; made of multiple parts. Even the parts are made of parts. These are the basic elemental building blocks of the natural world. In Asian wisdom traditions, these are referred to as the Five Elements (Chinese wu xing, Sanskrit pancha mahabhuta). The building blocks themselves are composite and continuously changing.

Think of water.

All living things contain it. The human body is about 60 percent water. Yet we don’t own that water. Water doesn’t stay in the body as it would in a bucket or balloon. New water moves in and old water moves out. Constantly. We know that water itself is not a singular thing. It is made of molecules. Molecules are not singular things either. They are made of atoms; in the case of water, two hydrogen and one oxygen. Atoms are made of subatomic particles. The further we zoom in, the more pieces we find.

There is no center to the onion.

When we drop our preconceptions, and look with openness and attention at the natural world, we eventually behold the place where Awareness is becoming Appearance, and Appearance is becoming Awareness. This is what science calls the time-space continuum, the quantum field of energy-consciousness. This is the heart of relatedness. That place is right here. There is no adequate name for it. Attempts to explain it are awkward at best.

We could call it Truth. Reality. Dao. The Way. Original Mind. Buddha nature.

Being.

Names are nice, yet our compulsive need to understand and name things causes us much confusion. We too easily mistake intellectual understanding of a concept for direct experience of reality. Perhaps it is best that we let the Unnameable remain as such, and place our efforts on the correct application of personal practice.

Because, as it turns out, what can’t be explained in words can be directly experienced through movement, meditation and inquiry.

What is True Freedom?

Amazing-Canyon-River-Wallpaper

It is possible to be without the limiting constraints of self-obsession, anxiety, and claustrophobia. It is possible to be free of the feeling of separation that results from exclusive identification with a finite personal reference point. Yet this freedom is not a license for reckless abandon. Freedom is not the liberty to do whatever we please. This type of freedom usually coincides with profound suffering; it is, more often than not, motivated by egotism. As much as our over-indulgent culture would have us believe otherwise, immediate and unrestrained gratification of personal desire does not bring lasting joy to the heart. In fact, in the long run, it serves to feed the Cycle of Affliction.

So, what is true freedom?

As human beings, the open dimension of our experience allows for a vast range of conduct. This range is significantly more diverse than that of any other living organism we know of. Yet the ability to do anything we want might be more of a liability than an asset when it comes to our own contentment. Ignorant of the repercussions of our choices, we exercise one of the most precarious powers we have: choice. Seemingly limitless are the possibilities of what we can do. We often do things “just because we can.” We can eat too much, drink too much, work too much, and stay up too late. We can clone sheep and grow hamburgers from stem cells. We can make nuclear weapons that can destroy the entire planet. Ego believes itself to be a god.

God or not, each of our actions has its repercussions. The law of cause and effect is undeniable. Ignorance says, “I’ll do what ever I please, I don’t care about the consequences.” Wisdom says, “I will do only what nourishes life and minimizes suffering.”

This is the highest use of choice.

Freedom is a great power that can easily be squandered. Through our practice, we come to realize that we cannot be lax in our relationship to freedom. Direct realization of inner freedom coincides with a firm adherence to upright conduct, routine, and respect for natural law. Quite different from morally imposed religious rules, these are innate expressions of wholesomeness. Centered in basic goodness, our actions accord with what supports life. No outwardly imposed rules are needed. When ignorance, deceit and self-obsession are given up, a good and simple life emerges.

By dwelling in the Center of Being, we know instinctively what virtue is. Behavior that might look like strict discipline from the outside often occurs as spontaneous action for a person practicing mindfulness. When there is ample space within, we feel great joy in simply flowing along with the natural course of things. What, in the beginning, we might call discipline turns out to be more like rhythm. Dynamic. Changing.

Summer follows spring. Night follows day. Exhale follows inhale. An adept follows what is natural.

To move like a river and blend with the changing times — to set aside our self-serving agenda and ask, “how can I use my unique gifts and talents to serve others?” — these are expressions of true freedom.

How to Sit Like a Mountain

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The practice of seated meditation holds special significance in Asian spiritual and artistic traditions.  An image of Gautama the Buddha, Shiva, or Guanyin seated in meditative equipoise evokes a powerful resonance within us. There is recognition of some inherent aspect of ourselves. Something inside us says, “I want to feel like that. I want to be like that; so serene and collected.” We intuitively know that we have this Buddha-like quality within us.

How do we bring it forth?

As we embark upon our own practice of seated meditation, a subtle resonance pulls us ever inward toward the Center of our own Being. We discover that Buddha is not a person, Guanyin is not a deity, Shiva is not an external image. These are mirrors reflecting what is shining within us all the time. Buddha is the qualities of presence, clarity and calm. Guanyin is our own compassionate heart. Shiva, our own pure awareness.  Each reflects aspects of our own intrinsic nature. On the path of rediscovering our Buddha-like clarity and calm, seated meditation is one of our most powerful tools.

The seated meditation position offers stability, comfort, and a near perfect balance of poise and relaxation. The attentiveness necessary to maintain a naturally aligned sitting position supports sustained focus and relaxed alertness. The relative ease most people experience while in the seated position allows for the possibility of a graceful transition from doing to Being.

The Sanskrit word asana means “seat,” and refers to the cushion a yogi sits upon to practice meditation. Asana also signifies any of the numerous bodily positions used in yogic practices. Yet the word asana implies much more than the shape and location of the body. A student once asked the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, “What is the best asana?” He replied, “Abidance in the Self is the only true posture.” The Maharshi’s loaded response hints at the importance of what we might call embodied presence.

As it turns out, remaining in our original nature is what matters most. If we strike an esoteric yoga position and lose our original breath and original posture, we have temporarily forfeited our original nature. In other words, we have lost sight of our natural way of being and breathing. Although such an asana may be technically correct and even display superior flexibility, balance, or strength, if we are not truly seated in our Center of Being, the pose is considered counter-productive in terms of spiritual cultivation.

We must apply the same caution to our seated meditation position. If our seated position becomes forced — our spine ramrod straight, or our legs forced into full lotus with screaming knees — our practice will serve to strengthen self-delusion and ego-clinging. Sitting, as with all aspects of inner cultivation, must first and foremost be a natural expression. We start where we are. With daily practice, our posture, breathing, and mental state will go through various changes. Our hips will open, spine will find more freedom, and legs stop falling asleep as easily. It takes time. Our thoughts, emotions, and sensations will go through innumerable transformations as well. The mirror is being polished. The store-house of latent tendencies is being emptied.

When we sit, we forget our external ambitions, we forget our personal preferences.  We let go of conceptual toys to entertain the mind. We remain attentive to our posture and breath, moment by moment. We take refuge in the Vital Center and embrace the living moment as-it-is.

Poised and still, we sit like a mountain.

Calm and serene, we rest like an ocean without waves.

Attentive and bright, we shine like an eternal flame.

This is the spirit of sitting.

Engaged Spiritual Practice

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Genuine spiritual practice is a full-time enterprise. The innumerable changing circumstances of each day provide endless opportunities for applying enlightened action. From the yoga mat to the meditation cushion to all Nine Spheres of our life. Walking. Standing. Sitting. Lying down. We’re always practicing.

It’s a matter of applying the teachings in our own daily life and choosing to embody what we know to be true and virtuous. This is engaged spirituality. Everyday enlightenment. The conditions have never been more ideal for this type of awakened action. It’s a matter of gathering our courage and resolve, discarding bargaining and excuses, and deciding to make spiritual life a priority.

As our formal practice matures, it will naturally spill over into all aspects of our life. We find ourselves practicing good posture, natural breathing, and meditative presence in everything we do. Sitting on the subway becomes a practice. Standing in line at the grocery store becomes a practice. In a sense, our practice has gone beyond the confines of a specific time and space. This is a wonderful confirmation that it has become rooted in our bones. After we have practiced consistently for some months, years, decades, there is an unstoppable momentum carrying us forward. Practice has become a central part of our life, forever.

It may seem at this point that formal practice is no longer necessary. Nevertheless, we keep attending to our formal practice. A sincere cultivator upholds their daily formal practice until the last breath leaves their lips (and even beyond). This is not done out of obligation. It is done in pure joy. There is no denying the fact that practice is difficult at times. It takes discipline and diligence. Sometimes we just don’t want to do it. Facing our laziness, fear and self-delusion can be excruciating. Yet the rewards vastly outweigh the investment of time and energy.

The heart opens. The body heals. The spirit soars.

The result of sincere spiritual practice is incomparable happiness, peace and bliss. Radiant Awakening. This is why we place practice at the center of life, and choose not to go a single day without it.

Doubt is Holding You Back

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The path of inner cultivation clears the dust of conditioning from the body-mind. As our practice unfolds, a type of clarity naturally dawns and we see the hidden lies in so many things. Religion. History. Politics. Academia. Science. Medicine. Spirituality. It becomes evident that hidden agendas too often distort the truth. Much of what we’ve been taught is simply not so.

When clarity begins to emerge, an overwhelming sense of doubt arises. We realize that most ideas we see propagated in the world are simply not true. Looking within, we come to distrust the authority of even our own beliefs. We see that the basis of our own thinking is steeped in assumptions and projections, concepts that are pre-established by our culture’s dualistic worldview. Clarity gives us the ability to observe our thoughts closely. We are free to believe them or not. During meditation, as we watch intently, it becomes apparent that we are not our thoughts. We understand that thoughts are temporary, changing and relative, and can never represent the whole of universal truth. Doubt becomes very useful here.

Freedom from identification with our own thoughts is a healthy sign that the knot of self-delusion is starting to untangle.

However, doubt is incomplete without its partner. At some point we must come full circle and rediscover doubtlessness. After the initial stage of awakening matures, the usefulness of doubt wanes. To rely on doubt exclusively produces a new kind of cleverness. Spiritual cynicism. “I’m too awake to be tricked by dogma and spiritual fantasy. I don’t believe in anything anymore.” Although this kind of razor sharpness is helpful in not falling prey to spiritual materialism, it becomes a new kind of guarding, a new limitation. It causes the heart to constrict. Doubt gone stale turns out to be the greatest undermining force for mature spiritual practitioners. Becoming doubtless is the next step we must take on the path.

This requires even more audacity.

There is only one way to become doubtless. Contrary to popular assumption, faith and belief are not the way. Anything that requires faith is somehow defective. Universal truth is self-evident. The need to believe in something co-arises with the intuitive sense that belief is contrived. Belief is unreliable because it is based in thought; and thoughts are always changing.  Behind our most cherished beliefs, we intuitively understand that we actually do not know. Rather than admit “I don’t know,” we try to silence this non-knowing with the boisterous voice of conviction. Yet the silent watcher within us know this is just an act. Belief requires a corresponding concept. Concepts are mind-made models of an incomprehensible reality. They are incomplete. We manufacture beliefs to give ourselves something to clutch to, because we are secretly afraid of three harmless words: I don’t know.

Behind extreme confidence is extreme doubt. The outward display of conviction always co-arises with secret inward doubt. Self-doubt. Perhaps this is most obvious in fundamentalism. With a quick scan of history, it is easy to see how belief in ideas, especially ones set forth by charismatic leaders, can disengage people from their humanity and innate wisdom. Under the spell of concepts, people easily lose their human-heartedness. Ideals place a wedge between you and the immediate moment. They block your ability to feel. And feeling is your umbilical cord to Life it self.

An honest seeker must confront fear and doubt, and go directly to the one thing they can actually be certain about. Certainty must come from our own direct experience, nowhere else. No book, teacher, or doctrine has any business here. This is an intimate and personal meeting between you and the great Unknowable. All spiritual paths lead here: to the moment you confront what mystics call Divine Ignorance. To know that you do not know. You must realize that the observer, limited to the point of view of “I,” cannot comprehend the whole of reality. Only when the certainty of “I don’t know” dawns will you pass through the tunnel of “I” and become truly doubtless.

It is disastrously ironic that the one thing that can restore true courage and establish doubtlessness is “I don’t know.” This is the antithesis of what religion, politics, academia, and advertising have so desperately propagated. Our cultural addiction to ego-glorification makes the story seem believable. Self-obsession lives within the domain of the hope-faith / doubt-belief conflict. This is the proverbial struggle of good and evil, based in the erroneous assumption of a divided world. God above. Hell below. Sacred. Profane. Such distinctions only exist in the conceptual mind.

To place full confidence in “I don’t know,” and to no longer harbor the secret feeling that something is wrong with you because of it, is the great leap beyond illusion and self-doubt. It opens the gateway to doubtlessness. Once we are doubtless about the fact that we do not know, we can discard hope, faith, belief, and all other spiritual playthings that once kept us separated from the immediacy of our direct experience.

When true doubtlessness dawns, we are free to play the ball where it lands. Unfettered by the exhausting game of needing to conceal our doubt with cleverness and contrived confidence, we can live our life with unprecedented openness. We can relate to people and situations with natural presence, and embrace life with an unguarded heart.

Meditation and Quantum Gravity

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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 Spheres. Learning to harvest gravity is an important, and often overlooked part, of meditative practice.