By James McCaig
The purpose of this writing is to outline a meditative technique that can bring progress in physical health and spiritual perception. Users of this technique will discover that gravity, along with other phenomena such as time and space, is a matter of perception and its effect on individuals can be altered with the application of mind and body. the great Indian mystic and Sufi, Hazrat Inayat Khan said:
“The rocks, the trees, the animals, and man all in their turn show an inclination to seek perfection. The tendency of rocks is to form into mountains reaching upward; and the waves are ever reaching upward as if they were trying to attain something which is beyond their reach. The tendency of birds is the same. Their joy is flying in the air and going upward. The tendency of many animals is to stand on their hind legs; and man, who is the culmination of creation, has this tendency from infancy to stand up. An infant who is not yet able to stand, moves his little hands and legs showing the desire to do so.
This all shows the desire for perfection. The law of gravitation is only half known to the world of science, which believes that the earth attracts all that belongs to it. It is true. But the spirit also attracts all that belongs to it, and that other side to the law of gravitation has always been known to the mystics. The law of gravitation is working from two sides: from the side of the earth which draws all that belongs to the earth, and from the side of the spirit which attracts the soul towards it. Even those who are unconscious of this law of gravitation are also striving for perfection, for the soul is being continually drawn towards the spirit. They are striving for perfection just the same. In the small things of everyday life a man is never satisfied with what he has; he always wants more and more, be it a higher rank, wealth, or fame. He is always striving for this.”
Quoted from THE ALCHEMY OF HAPPINESS, From Limitation to Perfection
It should come as little surprise to the seeker that the common perception of gravity, promulgated by science, is that of an absolute, measurable force, constant and subject to absolute laws. We have seen the laws and pronouncements of the scientists crumble as quantum physics has replaced the static Newtonian view. No doubt the future will also have the scientists aware that gravity is also malleable. Hazrat Inayat Khan has also said:
“Every atom of the universe, having come from the sun, from the divine sun, makes every effort to return to it. The tendency of the waves is to reach upward, of the mountains to point upward, of the birds to fly upward. The tendency of animals is to stand on their hind-legs. The tendency of man is to stand upright, ready to soar upward. An angel is pictured as a man with two wings ready to fly upward. Science has discovered the law of gravitation, but the mystic knows the other law, which is also a law of gravitation but in the opposite direction.”
Quoted from THE PATH OF INITIATION, Sufi Mysticism, The Secret of the Spirit.
We have learned from this Master that there are many interpretations of scripture and that the mystical meaning is not always apparent. Perhaps the passage in the Bible that has Christ walking on water has deeper meaning about the ability to alter the effect of gravity.
Yogis have long understood that the combination of mental visualization and bodily control is a powerful tool in awakening the Kundalini energy that lies within each of us. Those of us who have spent considerable time with yoga have learned it is very difficult for the Western mind to grasp and hold. Perhaps this is due to the culture differences and it may be suitable for some to consider the concept of meditation in motion as an alternative that is rewarding to Westerners, who crave physical action in pursuit of goals.
The practice of meditation in motion relies upon the fact that there is an alternative, counterintuitive, method of locomotion which has somehow been lost to modern man. Use of the nerves and muscles in this counterintuitive fashion requires intense concentration. Unwavering concentration, coupled with the increased circulation, and intense nerve action as we integrate more and more of our body into the required coordination, brings rapid progress. We should remind ourselves at the outset that progress along this path is relative and it is not possible to evaluate the heart of anyone by observing them in motion. Where did they begin?
POSTURE: Perhaps no one in history has said more succinctly and definitively how we should hold ourselves in life than the great Japanese swordsman and mystic, Miyamato Musashi in his BOOK OF FIVE RINGS, written in 1645.
“Adopt a stance with the head erect, neither hanging down, nor looking up, nor twisted. Your forehead and the space between your eyes should not be wrinkled. Do not roll your eyes nor allow them to blink, but slightly narrow them. With your features composed, keep the line of your nose straight with a feeling of slightly flaring your nostrils. Hold the line of the rear of the neck straight: instill vigor into your hairline, and in the same way from the shoulders down through your entire body. Lower both shoulders and, without the buttocks jutting out, put strength into your legs from the knees to the tips of your toes. Brace your abdomen so that you do not bend at the hips”
From this platform the seeker is ready to begin the mystical journey into the realm of meditation in motion.
EXERCISE 1……….DEVELOPING COORDINATION AND BREATHING TECHNIQUE
Take a ball in each hand. A golf ball or racquet ball is about the right size for the beginner. As you begin to walk, squeeze the ball in the opposite hand at the exact moment your foot strikes the ground. For example, as your right foot touches the ground, squeeze the ball in your left hand, and so on. Breathe in for three steps. Breathe out for four steps. Keep this rhythm with the breath and steps coordinated.
The beginner should walk at least 20 or 30 minutes per day in this fashion and should keep in mind during the rest of the day what has been learned in each session.
EXERCISE 2……..BECOMING CONSCIOUS OF CENTER OF GRAVITY
The value of being aware of our centers of gravity is easily demonstrated in the physical world and there are hidden benefits as we discover that at the center of gravity lies an important Chakra (body energy center). Awareness of this center will facilitate later perception of more Chakras.
Take a long stick, a shovel, broom or a rake and hold it by the end. Now move the object around in every which way. Next, find the center of gravity of the stick and move it around. It is clear that much less energy is required when moving from the center. We must become aware of our center and be sensitive that it is that point which me must consciously move when we are meditating in motion.
The great American Mystic, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his first series of essays, in FRIENDSHIP said:
“I have seen a criticism on some paintings, of which I am reminded when I see the shiftless and unhappy men who are not true to their senses. The last Grand Duke of Weimar, a man of superior understanding, said: — “”I have sometimes remarked in the presence of great works of art, and just now especially, in Dresden, how much a certain property contributes to the effect which gives life to the figures, and to the life an irresistible truth. This property is the hitting, in all the figures we draw, the right center of gravity. I mean, the placing the figures firm upon their feet, making the hands grasp, and fastening the eyes on the spot where they should look. Even lifeless figures, as vessels and stools, — let them be drawn ever so correctly, –lose all effect so soon as they lack the resting upon their center of gravity, and have a certain swimming and oscillating appearance.”"
The Raphael, in the Dresden gallery, (the only greatly affecting picture which I have seen,) is the quietest and most passionless piece you can imagine; a couple of saints who worship the Virgin and Child.Nevertheless, it awakens a deeper impression than the contortions often crucified martyrs. For, beside all the resistless beauty of form, it possesses in the highest degree the property of the perpendicularity of all the figures. This perpendicularity we demand of all the figures in this picture of life. Let them stand on their feet, and not float and swing. Let us know where to find them. Let them discriminate between what they remember and what they dreamed,call a spade a spade, give us facts, and honor their own senses with trust.”
To develop center of gravity awareness is quite simple. Continue with the balls as described in Exercise 1. Simultaneously, visualize the center of gravity as the eye of a needle. Imagine that as you walk, a straight string is extending in front of you to infinity and you are walking this line, which passes through your center of gravity. If this is difficult to visualize and experience, try taping a small weight to your abdomen, just at the point where you guess your center of gravity to be. For this purpose a roll of pennies (in the US we get 50 small copper coins in a roll) is about right. This weight will create a little inertia in that area and may make the center more perceptible. When awareness comes, discontinue the weight, while being conscious of your center with every step. Pay no attention to time. This awareness may come in a minute or a month.
Continue with the balls as in Exercise 1 and be aware of the center of gravity. As you walk, turn your head from side to side in such a manner that as you squeeze the ball, your head will turn in the direction of the hand that is squeezing, i.e., in the direction opposite the foot. For example, as the right foot touches, squeeze the ball in the left hand and swing your head to the left. Paavo Nurmi, the great Finnish runner, was the master of this technique. If one has the opportunity to view film of Nurmi, it should not be missed. Another practitioner was Emil Zatopek, The Czech master, who ran like a clock set to a certain rhythm.
It will be useful to experiment with different head positions. One person will be comfortable with the head level, while another might tilt it back slightly and turn from side to side. Others might simply tilt the head slightly from side to side, without turning. The head is relatively heavy and considerable leverage is gained through the lever, the length of which is its distance from the center of gravity or fulcrum.
Perhaps the best example of this technique is to watch birds walk. The head shift is almost imperceptible (they are light and have long fulcrums), but careful observation, especially in larger birds, will clearly show this technique.
When this technique has been mastered, we find the additional relevance of the motion in Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Zikr. If we learn to rotate our heads and our entire trunks in the proper rhythm, this rotation begins to involve the entire upper body in the locomotion process and it is quite stimulating.
When this stage has been reached, one can begin to employ Sufi breathing and light visualization techniques. There is no end to this quest of course, we are each a universe and infinitely complex.
Any discussion of this subject would be incomplete without mentioning our Sufi Brother, Matthew Zuppas, who first made me aware of this method. We send it with our love and warmest regards.