Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Embracing Life's Contractions and Times for Rest

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you may have heard me say words like "expansion" and "contraction." They're always pared because like breathing, they are the complete cycle. In the Trimurti concept of Hinduism, the three main gods are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (Creator, Protector, and Destroyer--There are many traditions of Hinduism, and they each discuss the deities differently). So things are created and expanded out from nothingness, and eventually, they are destroyed and returned to dust. We live within that sphere of reality, and so for every time in your life when you are expanding, growing, and challenging your boundaries, there will come a time for shrinking, letting go of many things, and self-nourishing. From this space, I am writing you today.

The Gift of Being Small
We live in a world lost in the illusion of perpetual growth. From my times in business, start-ups would idealize the hockey-stick growth curve. If you can see the visual in your head, the line of growth starts out small until it sky-rockets perpetually. It's a very juvenile thing to imagine, and even if you have growth of that kind for awhile (assuming you can keep up with it), it will eventually end.

Furthermore, in this constant striving for more and growth and continued consumption, we miss the gift of being small, doing less, and resting. We can really get ourselves in trouble when we try to perpetuate this growth during times of contraction, of shrinking. This is typically when people get sick. I'm half-convinced that humans are very seasonal. While a whole bunch of people going indoors makes it easier to pass diseases, I sometimes think that people get sick in fall and winter because it's a time for many of us to be in a contracted energy--doing less, but we keep pushing on. We push past limits that--at least in this case--are there to let us know that it's time to stop pushing.

Finding Out What You've Left Behind
Because we are in such a hurry to get somewhere and achieve things (at least some of us fall into that category, anyway), we forget what we've left behind. For others, you never try to go anywhere and live in a contracted space. For you, this blog is an encouragement to look at what's holding you in place. Being in a contraction whether naturally or whether you are afraid to grow and challenge your borders gives you a chance to see what needs cleaning inside you. Contractions take us down to the lowest energy level that we naturally hold, and part of healing and cleaning this space out means that for our next contraction, we won't have to go to this low level of energy again. This takes a deft touch because the rigorous energy of expansion has gone, and we don't have a lot of energy really available. Rest is so important as is focused and mindful healing and clearing during the times when we do have energy.

The Constant Contraction: Lost in Your Small Kingdom
But for those of you who aren't in a free-flowing expansion and contraction state, I really challenge you to challenge your borders. The reason you don't have a lot of energy is because you're cut-off from yourself. You're cut-off from the deeper flow of energy in the Universe. Until you make a concerted effort to break through your self-erected barriers, you're going to always be afraid, thinking that the world is unsafe and constantly after you. You'll live under a cloud of drugs, sex, booze, over-eating, or whatever it is you choose to do to make yourself feel better for the short-term, and you will grow increasingly depressed, despondent, and possibly angry if you've got enough energy to stir some up. It's a bad place to be, and it's where most people live now-a-days as our anti-depressant prescription culture tries to numb away the feelings. Which is potentially even worse, although some people genuinely need this kind of medicinal intervention.

If this is where you are, you need to make a new beginning. This blog post isn't really aimed at this. I'm writing for people who have a more natural expansion and contraction happening in their lives. For you, I'd encourage you to check out my Starting Out section to begin to find out what's going wrong.

Dusting Off the Old Issues
Naturally, you're going to find some of your old issues hanging out down here. It's normal. We all scrub through issues multiple times as we grow and have more resources for deeper and deeper cleanings. We keep going until we finally release the issue fully. When we no longer need this issue in any way and on any level, we are free of it. And that's the real gift of a contraction. We can see all of our issues in blinding detail. Consider a contraction to be like coming home after a trip or your day of being out and about. During your trip or your local excursions, you're trying on new things and seeing new places. You're perhaps doing new things and learning new things. You're growing in a brand new way, but eventually, you have to go home. And at home, the dishes still needed to be cleaned; the laundry needs to be done; and the cat has to have its litter box emptied out. You've done this before, and you'll do it again. While this isn't a perfect metaphor, you get my drift about the work that needs to be done "at home."

Awakening and Rapid Expansions and Contractions
For those of you in the initial parts of your spiritual awakening, expansions and contractions can come extremely quickly. It can feel like being on the end of a yo-yo. You have the awakening energy driving behind you, which makes it easier than ever to clear out contractions, but at the same time, getting flung down into the middle of them can be extremely challenging emotionally, physically, energetically, and mentally. Nothing is left out. This is why spiritual awakening can be so exhausting, and just when you think you've cleared a little bit, you're launched back skywards into an amazing expansion, absorbing so much love and beauty and truth. And then you plummet back down into contraction. It really is a marathon of sorts, and you have to do a lot of personal work to keep your breath. Just keep breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Expansion. Contraction. You'll get through.

Sleeping It Off
I'm at a point where I can do a little work on myself and kinda sleep off the rest. I know that this is a temporary state, and I've learned to come to peace with it. There's not much to do, but to rest. If I don't, I'll get sick. I am on a very short leash these days, and it's for my own good. Obviously, I still balance other activities and some work. But my students have already noticed that I am a little less available. This isn't because I don't want to serve and help; this is exactly because I want to serve and help. Until I help myself, I'm not much use to anyone else. If I have a broken leg, it's not time for me to go running with others. There will be other times for that once I've healed.

So, I encourage you to pay attention to what this contraction means. What is it showing you? Why are you so low energy? Don't get caught up in astrological signs and portents and yada yada. Pay attention to you and what's moving through your life. It's so easy to try and blame external situations, and even if you wrap them up with "spiritual speak," it's still the same avoidance technique. If this contraction is showing you something that needs to change in your life, prepare to make that change. If it's simply telling you that your own internal seasons have turned, then let it be winter. Let the fields of your life go fallow for awhile. Spring will come, and with it, a new possibility and cycle of beautiful growth and expansion.
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