Science – Gravity of Thought
As we roam our planet in search of purpose and destination, we experience forces that influence our thoughts and actions. Most are temporary. However there is a force we experience every moment of our lives from conception to our final breath. It affects everything we do, think and feel, and virtually all of us have never known or experienced anything outside of it – Gravity.
The physical effects of gravity continue to be studied, but little consideration has been given to the metaphysical impact of gravity on our thoughts, feelings, perception, beliefs, imagination, creativity, and ultimately our consciousness and state of being.
I recently had the opportunity to “defy” gravity by taking a Zero-G flight, where I was able to experience the impact of gravity, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.
NASA uses Zero-G flights to train their astronauts for life in space by recreating the zero gravity effect in a plane. On an early Saturday morning, my fellow passengers and I boarded a hollowed out Boeing 727 known as G-FORCE ONE where the pilots would take us up to approximately 34,000 feet, dip the plane’s nose 20°, dive to 24,000 feet, and then pull up into a climb at 45° until we reached 34,000 feet and dive again.
During each of fifteen dives, we were gravity-free for 20-30 seconds. We would know we were about to pull back into a climb when the pilot announced “feet down” and we quickly accelerated to the floor. Once the plane reached its full angle of the climb, we were suctioned to the floor feeling twice the normal gravity as we waited for our next dive.
The pilots simulated different gravitational pulls by adjusting the angle of the dive. For the first dive, they simulated what gravity would be like on Mars, which is about one-third of earth’s gravity. I found I could do one-arm pushups fairly easily. The next 2 drops simulated gravity on the Moon, about one-sixth of that on Earth, which allowed me to do one-arm pushups in a handstand!
During these first few drops, I was still adjusting to this new environment, very much awestruck at how much easier everything seemed to feel. During the next 12 drops, I started noticing the effects zero gravity had on my thoughts and feelings.
On the fourth drop, while lying on my back I felt myself slowly levitating above the floor. The higher I rose, the more compelled I felt to keep one foot on the ground, although no force made me do so. I could tell my mind was programmed to feel some part of me connected to the ground.
It wasn’t until several drops later, after kicking and waving my arms as if I was trying to swim, that I realized I had to find stability within myself by creating inertia and momentum through my body’s own movements. I also realized I had to feel secure mentally first, since it was only during a relaxed state – when I let go of my preconceived notions and presumptions – that I was able to navigate my body elegantly through the cabin.
By the sixth drop, I was fairly well adjusted, floating and somersaulting through the cabin. With the slightest push against the wall, I would send myself flying with nothing to slow me down until I came into contact with a wall or person. Just as Newton’s First Law of Motion predicted: “Every object in motion remains in motion unless an external force is applied to it.”
More interestingly, I also experienced Newton’s law internally within my mind as I noticed my thoughts coasting in a certain direction until someone would fly into me and I was jolted into thinking about something else.
On the ninth drop, we opened a package of M&Ms and watched them float through the cabin. At first, I would chomp at them like Pacman. But moments later, a cherry-red M&M caught my attention and I paused to observe it, entranced by its every movement and subtle rotation as it like me, rolled across the cabin.
Suddenly, I recognized that the only difference between the M&M and me was that the M&M had no internal inertia or way of creating momentum from within. Instead, the M&M was ruled by the external forces that set its direction. I found myself wondering how many of us actually ignore our gift of consciousness, coasting through life based on external forces such as the economy, society, and our personal circumstances, and never learning how to navigate toward a destination or purpose of our choosing.
On the twelfth drop, we released water from a bottle and observed droplets floating through the cabin, organically changing shape, held together by their own internal gravity and surface tension. I was in complete awe of their beauty.
As we pulled back up into our climb, the water droplets, my fellow passengers and I slowly fell toward the floor, watching the droplets flatten into two-dimensional puddles upon impact.
In the metaphysical realm (our mindspace vs. physical space), our assumptions are the gravitational force that grounds our ideas into a certain shape. When our assumptions change ideas take on a new form, but always within the constraints of the new assumptions. However, if we drop most or all of our assumptions and biases, we can observe how an idea or thought might gain dimension and blossom toward a much greater potential.
As an artist, I’m constantly shedding myself of assumptions and perceptual biases to allow a creative work or innovation to emerge, and then use my tools of ‘desire’ and ‘intent’ to give it shape.
During the three final drops, I chose to be in the moment without any purpose or objective except to have fun. I felt no physical tension, no mental stress, and no emotional anxiety. In fact, the only thing I felt was complete freedom – a state of bliss – my consciousness expanding as I experienced a deeper level of understanding of myself and the world around me.
I thought about the times I had “fallen” in love and wondered, had I fallen or floated? And if I was floating, why? And what had pulled me out of love?
The revelation: In those moments of being in love, I was floating because I had been void of any judgmental thoughts. Therefore, I realized, love and judgment can never co-exist. The moment one begins to judge or compare, we stop floating and begin to fall “out” of love. Judgment is just another form of an assumption, which creates gravity and limits the potential of an idea or an emotion, in this case love.
After the flight was over and we were back on the bus, I reflected on what had taken place and realized that my final state of bliss was really the ultimate product of my experience. Yet, I didn’t have to be in a falling plane to achieve bliss. I could recreate this same experience anywhere by closing my eyes and letting go of my assumptions, perceptual biases, preconditioned thoughts and judgments, slowing down the inertia created by all the thoughts whirling through my mind until a sense of stillness grew within me.
Whether we achieve this stillness through mediation, relaxation, or being in love, we can consciously and intentionally free ourselves from the gravity of thought and levitate within our mindspace to reach the same state of bliss and freedom I experienced in the plane. In this way, we can all defy gravity!
Ravé Mehta is the Editor-in-Chief of Fulbright Publishing with a mission to inspire dialogues that deepen human understanding through intellectual, international and cultural exchange. An internationally recognized artist, composer and writer, Mehta’s work has been seen, displayed and experienced around the world including the Museum Tower, which houses the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 2009, he was the City of Orlando’s featured artist with his Gateway to the World: India exhibition showcased in Orlando’s City Hall.
Mehta is also a successful businessman, recognized by the Wall Street Journal in its 2003 Business Men of the Year list as the engineer and entrepreneur who pioneered the experiential learning technology approach originally used for DoD simulation and training.
He is currently the CEO of MEHTA Group, a 30-year transportation infrastructure holding company, a founding member of the American Council on Foreign Relations, Orlando Chapter; and was recently appointed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist to the board of directors for Space Florida – the official Florida Space Agency that oversees all space related activities across the state.