As a newborn, you are physiologically very similar to what you were prior to birth. However, one large and important physiological difference is that the lungs of a baby in the womb are mostly collapsed, filled with fluid where not collapsed, and completely non-functional. To be sure, you need oxygen as much before as after birth. But, in the womb, the constant supply of oxygen necessary to sustain your life is delivered through the umbilical cord; your mother does all of your breathing for you, and you have no idea what it’s like to have to constantly expand and contract the diaphragm in order to bring more oxygen into the lungs and to the body. Upon birth, you take your first breath. It’s the most forceful breath you will ever take, for it has to open up your collapsed and fluid-filled lungs, and the force required is said to be 3 or 4 times that of a normal inhalation. Once the lungs have opened, the constant need to breathe is a shock. Your body is doing something new, something that it will now need to do always but has never done before – something it wasn’t even capable of doing before! Very quickly, however, you get used to the need to breathe; breathing is so necessary that your body will continue to do it whether or not you pay attention. So once you are over the shocking new experience, you stop attending to your breath or, except under special circumstances, even noticing it at all.
In the womb, you are in a weightless fluid-filled environment. You have no consciousness of gravity’s effects on your body, no awareness at all of your body’s weight. Just as your mother did all of the breathing for you in the womb, she also insulated you from all of the effects of gravity. Imagine waking up one morning and finding that your body, without any change in size, has come to weigh ten times as much as it did the night before, and you’ll have some idea of your first experience of gravity. But only some idea: for as a newborn you experienced a weight gain that’s more than tenfold, more than one hundredfold, and even more than a million-fold. Your feeling of your body’s weight increased by an infinite amount – you went from having never felt any of the effects of gravity to feeling its force pulling every part of you downwards at the rate of 32 feet per second squared. Just like breath, gravity will be a constant connection between you and the universe; from birth to death you will breathe, and from birth to death the force of gravity will be pulling you downward. At birth, feeling the weight of your body is a shocking experience. But, like breath, you will get used to this feeling, and quickly stop paying attention to it, or even noticing it at all.