Expansion and contraction are really one experience. Just as life and death are one. The breath is one, an inhale and an exhale. There is not one without the other. Nature shows us this in numerous ways. Nevertheless, we have a tendency to separate the natural conditions of life and label them. One is good, the other bad.
Being able to be with the fact that there is no separation, only a continuation of a life experience, is one of the most challenging concepts we face. We always want more of the “good” one and less of the “bad.” But by shutting down, wishing away or struggling against any natural condition of life, we are missing out.
Most of us only allow for enjoying the expansion, the spring and summer, the times when we feel strong and capable and business is growing, when are relationships are growing. For me, as a weightlifter, I must admit that I really love the times when I am able to lift the most weight. I love the times when my relationship just seems to work effortlessly and I feel connected to life. Who doesn’t enjoy when the magic just works?
But there is a natural order. What happens when life seems to contract around you? It is an important time to pay attention to the attitude you hold during these times. Watch your thoughts the next time you see or feel things are a little off. The common reaction is to make yourself or life wrong. Then, we try to figure out how to fix or change the situation. At best, we wait impatiently until things get back to normal so that we can get on with our lives (meanwhile secretly worrying this state will never change). Being less strong, less connected, less busy, more introspective, and quiet is a rich experience if allowed.
If you “cant” allow it, pay attention to what your mind is telling you. Some reeducation might be needed. Not many of us were ever told it’s OK to not be on top. Most parents do not tell their children that it is wonderful to have a day to just lie in bed and do nothing.
It is OK to go dark, to not want to talk or be productive. In fact, our ability to create, to get in touch with the rich gifts of our internal lives is available only when allowed to flow naturally.
The next time you feel yourself contracting, I recommend the warrior meditation. Here’s how it works.
- Sit quietly, allowing enough time when you will not be disturbed.
- Bring to your mind a specific situation or problem.
- Breathe deeply and focus specifically on this one problem.
- Then, allow your mind to take this problem as far as it wants to. Invite every negative outcome to present itself.
- Do not stay with any one thought, just let your mind do what it does and return over and over again to the situation you chose.
- Feel the feelings as they come to you. All of the “what ifs” and “oh no” and ” how dare they”. Watch them come, and invite the next one.
- Do not look for a solution as best you can, just stay with the problem, and breathe.
As you allow for every thought, and watch it float away, the tension around this problem also dissipates. Your mind, on its own, when not interfered with, will find a way to a possible solution.
If you practice paying attention to the negative thoughts you have while in a contracted state, you will see a pattern. We think the same thoughts over and over in a vicious cycle. Most of these thoughts are negative and were formed at a young age. They mostly have to do with the attitudes and beliefs that we formed about life before we had enough psychological sophistication to realize that life can be difficult and is not automatically fair. Life just is. Our thoughts give it the meaning that we then live into. If you are not aware of these thoughts, it can feel like life does you rather than you doing life.
Being in a contracted place gives us the gift of being able to watch these thoughts that are always there, in the background. The opportunity is to feel the feelings associated with these thoughts and bring consciousness to them. As an adult, you can reeducate the parts of you that are still stuck in the either or thinking of a child.
Life is one, but a child does not know this. To live a full, rich, creative life with consciousness it has to be seen for what it is. One.