Relax into Gravity: A Strategy for Overcoming Life’s Difficulties
We readily embrace all the good in our lives, but when we encounter difficulties, our instinct is to fight, flight, or freeze. We can build resilience by surrendering to, accepting, and learning from life’s challenging experiences. In this article you’ll learn what it means to relax into gravity and come through tough situations stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
The whole secret of life and of creative energy consists in flowing with gravity.
~ Alan Watts
You were most likely in elementary school when you first learned about the Law of Gravity. We know gravity as the force field that draws objects toward the Earth’s center. We don’t float in the air as we would if we were on the moon because of the Earth’s gravitational pull. The Earth’s force field pulls us toward its center and grounds us.
The Khan Academy definition of gravity is “a force of mutual attraction between two objects that both have mass or energy.” Aristotle explained gravity as “All bodies move toward their natural place. For the elements earth and water, that place is the center of the (geocentric) universe.”
For this article, let’s say that gravity is the force that pulls us to the center, and that is symbolic of the natural flow of life.
Instinctive Response to Life’s Difficulties: Fight, Flight, Freeze
Imagine you are encountering disappointment, failure, loss of a relationship, an illness, or another life circumstance that threatens your happiness or well-being. The most instinctive reaction is to fight, take flight, or freeze. That’s what our primitive brain, the amygdala, will guide us to do. We are accustomed to defending ourselves, fighting back, running from the problem, or freezing out of fear.
Anytime we fight, take flight, or freeze, we resist gravity. We are moving in the opposite direction, which takes an enormous amount of energy, physically and/or mentally. To fight the circumstance is resisting gravity. It’s exhausting and usually futile because the gravitational force is strong.
Let’s put this in real-life examples. Imagine you’re in a relationship. You feel something has changed. Your feelings or the feelings of your partner are not the same. You find yourself arguing over insignificant things (fight), spending more time away from one another (flight), or ignoring the problem and refusing to talk about it (freeze). The relationship continues to deteriorate, and tensions mount. It’s only a matter of time before the relationship ends.
Relax into Gravity: A Strategy for Overcoming Life’s Difficulties
Is the end of the relationship inevitable? Maybe, but maybe not. Here’s where the concept of relaxing into gravity comes in. You may also know it as resting into gravity or befriending gravity. The main point is to recognize the natural flow, the reality of the situation. Instead of resisting it, you yield to the flow. I learned that aerial yoga is an exercise form that works with gravitational pull. By acknowledging the strength of gravity and working with it, the yogi can hold poses longer with less friction, which leads to more excellent health benefits. The same is true in other life situations. You lean into the situation, observe it, and become curious about what it teaches or guides you toward. Instead of fighting, taking flight, or freezing, you accept the situation for what it is. In the end, you experience less tension and more peace and ease.
Let’s look again at the example of the relationship that is deteriorating. Instead of resisting gravity (the natural direction the relationship is heading), you relax into it. That means you notice it, own it, and become curious about what is happening. You acknowledge with your partner that something in the relationship has changed. You don’t feel the same, or you inquire into their feelings. You accept that all relationships evolve over time. You come to a mutual decision to take a break and give each other space. You both feel a sigh of relief and mutual love and respect.
That’s one possible outcome when you learn to relax into gravity. It could easily turn out that after talking through your feelings, you both discover the root cause of the problem. You agree to work on it together and feel a huge weight lifted. Either way, by relaxing into gravity, into the force field, you let go of the tension. You let down your guard. You don’t assign blame. You are open to discovery. The result is a more peaceful and supportive resolution.
You can take any situation you’re facing and relax into gravity by asking yourself these two questions:
- If I accepted this situation as the normal flow of life (the natural gravitational force), what action could I take that would work with gravity instead of against it?
- What can I learn from this situation to help me now or in the future?
Think about a situation you’re resisting. Are you fighting getting older or gaining weight, adjusting to a new manager or organizational structure at work, a diagnosis, getting laid off, disappointing feedback, or financial shortfall. Take any situation and decide you will relax into gravity. Work with the force and learn from it instead of resisting it. The outcome will be that you’ll come out stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
We think relaxing into gravity is not easy, but maybe it’s the easiest thing we can do. I once read a story about a woman who had cancer. For months, she fought it. She had an adversarial relationship with her diagnosis. Then, one day, she decided she’d try another strategy. She’d accept that she had cancer, and she’d work with her body and the disease. She learned all that she could. She gave her body what it needed, food, rest, and fresh air. She stopped complaining and started practicing gratitude. Her story ended well. The cancer went into remission, and as of her writing had not returned in several years. Of course, this is not the outcome in every situation. But her realization that fighting the disease was not helpful began her journey toward healing. She had learned to relax into gravity.
We can learn to relax into gravity in other areas as well – not just when dealing with difficulty. Anytime we find ourselves pushing, striving, grasping, holding on tightly to a person, thing, or idea, we can stop and ask ourselves, “What would happen if I let go, if I became more curious, if I let the natural course of action flow, if I relaxed into gravity?” It requires a great deal of trust in the belief that all things really do work out for our good.
“To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.”
I want to thank Keith Ferrazzi, an American author and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a Los Angeles, California-based research and consulting firm. He wrote the New York Times bestselling books Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back? Keith gave me the phrase, “relax into gravity.” When I heard him say it, it immediately resonated with me. Now it will forever be part of my lexicon and practice. I hope it’s useful for you as well.
#yourahalife #flow #resilience #relaxintogravity #gowiththeflowofyourlife
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