The Art of Falling

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By Jair Lucena

Falling is the secret ingredient in every authentic spiritual experience. If we know how to fall, we know how to live and die in every moment.

Most of us are taught from early childhood that falling is not what we should do. We are supposed to learn how to walk, ride bicycles, study, learn things and share them with others so they think that we are clever, talented, full of potential, etc. But no one teaches us how to fall.

Yet, how beautiful it is to fall, how thrilling? When we allow ourselves to fall freely, adrenaline rushes through our nervous system, and the crowded spaces of our minds become empty, filled only with uncertainty. When falling consciously, we are willing to touch the ground, feeling the Earth not as a visitor or a divinely chosen manager but as an active and humble part of it, remembering our inherent sense of belonging.

Falling is a wake-up call, an art that reconnects us with who we are.

In one of his poems, Rainer Maria Rilke painted it with his colorful words:

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

​Each thing —
each stone, blossom, child —
is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

​If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

​Instead, we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

​So like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

The Fear of Falling

Returning to the dilemma of childhood, we got used to believing that falling is painful and that pain is not pleasant; therefore, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to fall.

Yet, no matter what we’ve done to prevent it, we’ve all fallen to the ground and tasted the flavor of defeat, the disappointments of a meaningless life, and the sorrows of a broken heart. We’ve been pushed to our limits and brought to our knees, holding on to whatever form we believe in, intently asking for a significant change. Life as we know it became empty and challenging.

We have feared falling, and still do, but there is always a moment where it is unavoidable. Such moments are the beginning of an inner revolution that ends up expressing itself through a radical change of lifestyle. When enough is enough, falling is the way forward.

Many of us discovered the spiritual path because of moments that shook us to our roots. In such instances of despair, where the way ahead is foggy and dark, an unexpected force appears. This force brings us back to a standing position with a new vision and understanding of reality, opening possibilities and encouraging passions that inspire us to explore the unknown.

Pain, though we ran from it our entire lives, turns out to be the secret spark that kindled the process of finding Truth. This new understanding is not a socially-imposed belief but comes from the Heart, which guides us through life with straight spines and less and less fear of falling again.

Falling Into Ourselves

True meditation is nothing but falling — falling from conceptual ideas into silence, from what we believe ourselves to be toward our inherent reality. We fall like a leaf that doesn’t care where it lands, like a coin dropped into a well by a child curious to see how deep it is.

The supreme act of falling is not even our choice as separate human beings; it is an act of grace. Returning to Rilke’s poem, just like gravity, Stillness does it all. It pulls us back into itself, saving us from the ego’s grasp when we’re distracted and taking us on a journey toward the Heart.

In this journey, we can taste the sweetness of love mixed with anguish, the aching of longing mixed with the bliss of union, and the beauty of belonging to a far away yet always present land where Heaven and Earth are intertwined and dancing. Even if it only happens for a few seconds, the experience of falling into grace changes our lives forever, and there is no way back.

Falling in Love

The great Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa shared: “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.”

It may sound scary. But what is there to be scared about if there is nowhere to land?

Sitting, walking, and living, we become fascinated by the insights we experience in meditation — where there are no guarantees, no places to go, and nothing to achieve. Some meditation sessions might be full of the mind’s endless chattering and uncomfortable feelings in the body, but something else is happening. Results start becoming less and less relevant. We don’t meditate to get anywhere; we start falling in love with falling, honoring, trusting, living, and being.

There’s more. We may start experiencing a precious closeness to the beauty of the Earth or a powerful gravity that pulls us back toward our hearts in moments of despair. Sometimes, a burst of mesmerizing laughter comes out of nowhere; other times, a tremor in the chest brings us back into presence, or our gaze spontaneously turns inward. Some things indeed start changing.

Today, I would like to invite all of us to allow ourselves to fall, to let falling take us to an unknown realm where there is no plan or certainty. A space where our physical eyes are closed and our inner windows open, allowing the light to shine within, illuminating corners that we have not previously noticed.

At first, they may be uncomfortable to look at, but this is nothing to worry about. Breathing in and out, relaxing more and more, we fall deeply, becoming familiar with the aroma of self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-love.

These sweet fragrances will make us fall further into ourselves, returning us to a place where falling is no longer necessary.

Jair Lucena is a Hridaya Yoga teacher serving at our center in Longeval, France.

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