Gravity (or: Being Loved by Earth)

I’ve never been able to sit cross-legged for long. It seems my right hip sees no good reason to hang outward, and whines about it when I try. Having taken up serious meditation later in my life, however, I thought a little exercise, stretching and practice might change its mind. The effort has been mildly successful.

Yesterday morning during meditation I noticed that my body was using minute muscle tension to keep my knees ever-so-slightly elevated. I consciously relaxed all those muscles, and suddenly had a clear awareness of the pull of gravity—not only on my legs but on my whole body.

It wasn’t that I felt especially heavy; in fact I seemed to be able to draw a clear distinction between when I felt my own weight (which is actually a measurement of the pull of gravity; when beyond the immediate reach of gravitational force, we are “weightless”), and when I was aware of the Earth exerting its pull on me. An extremely fine distinction, I know, but there is a definite difference between the two.

They are not different measurements, though. This is a distinction of the mind, not of matter. When looking through the lens of “my” weight, it feels like one thing; when using a more global filter, it feels entirely different.

Weight is something we (women especially) fret about: too much, too little, distribution, maintenance, covering up, enhancing … the marketing moguls have worked hard to form a perfectly natural experience into an extremely effective sales pitch for everything from “edible foodlike substances” (thank you, Michael Pollan) to clothing and weight management programs. Very big business.

But gravity is a force. It’s way larger than any one human — even than the whole six-billion-plus lot of us. It’s bigger than our entire planet, for that matter; it’s a critical factor in the existence of the entire Universe.

So sitting there yesterday morning as the sky gently lightened around us, what I felt was attraction, the ever so gentle but incredibly significant, pull of Earth. It wasn’t about my weight at all; it was feeling the embrace of my Gaian “mother”, holding me safely to her.

And my hip didn’t hurt at all.

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