Have you ever run farther than you have ever run before, and felt like an super hero? You were ready to leap tall building in a single bound. And possibly even stop a train?
Only to find the next morning, your body hurt so much that you can hardly move at all? Guess what? That's called "expansion" and "contraction". Our hearts do that to with all kind of emotion and intimacy.
Sometimes we even do this on Facebook. We feel really close to others, share out guts - and then we want to run away. We get pissed off (contraction) and we feel like we can't expand anymore. Or we expand through a piece of writing and we feel too exposed and run for the hills. Expansion and contraction at work!
It happens in our love lives. That lover of your that feels so close to you last night. You were swooning over the intimacy that opened up in your relationship. The sex is extraordinary. And then, something happens - that beautiful closeness turns into distance the very next day. Your lover who was in expanded intimacy with you has contracted and closed down. You haven't heard from them. And you feel alone and confused.
Welcome to the world of "Expansion" and "Contraction". Sometimes the bigger we expand, the tighter we contract. We do this with ourselves too, have you ever noticed? You could be making tremendous breakthroughs in your weight loss, relationships, writing, coaching work, and you are starting to get really close to what you think you want and then you shut down and run away - instead of continuing to expand. What is up with that?
When we expand our heart to take on new things, open to our deepest desires, allow ourselves to be seen as vulnerable - we grow. And it can be pretty scary. Sometimes, we can only take a certain amount of growth at a time, before some of us feel like we need to separate from the action. The contraction can be very painful, and sometimes - if it is not managed in a conscious way, you can lose all of your beautiful expansions. Kind of like gaining back all the weight you lost in a year long diet. It sucks.
We all expand and contract. It's how we move through personal growth and relationships. It helps to be conscious of what we do in each movement. Be conscious of your expansion. Notice it. Think about what kind of support you need to keep most of the expanded space open so that you do not go completely backwards in your contraction. Or worse, completely wreak your fabulous expansion with a contraction that is so hard, that you have messes to clean up as well as broken glass (been there done that - NO FUN)!
Prepare ahead of time. If you know you are going to have an incredibly expanded experience with someone, plan for check in phone calls after the experience is over. Make sure your friends are around to support you. Plan for self care, like talking to your coach or therapist, or getting a massage if you are able.
Expansions and Contractions are a part of every day life. Every time we move forward, there is a tiny contraction. Notice them. Become conscious of how you handle expansions and contractions in your life.
Both of them are very important - and they need some managing. Often just knowing that every expansion is followed by some kind of contraction is enough. You can recognize what is happening, and welcome it so that it can also pass quickly. Hard contractions after an incredibly expanding experience can be very confusing and upsetting. Prepare for it - even talk about it - while you are still in an expanded experience. Make the disaster plan! How are we going to support each other after we leave? Or after this experience is over?
When we think of life as a series of expansion and contractions, it really becomes clear that we are on a constant trip down the birth canal. Life begins with expansion and contraction in our mother's labor. Once we leave our mother's womb, we are left to our own birth canal to continue the process of birthing ourselves the rest of our life. Just like she taught us! Breathe. Expand. Contract.
Understand that we are always hopefully moving down the canal, and managing these shifts. Dig into your expansions. Love them up with two hands. And when you feel a contraction coming - simply breathe and know it will pass. Plan for it and take care. Contractions can be short and hard - or very soft. You can stay in a contracted space for a long time - or you can choose to move out of it quickly. Get to know your patterns, and remember - you are in charge. The heart, mind and body finds expansions challenging! That is why we contract. When you feel a contraction coming on - know you have done some great work. Now it's a matter of not letting that contraction take over and make you lose your ground. It takes practice! But I know you can do it.
Expanding and contracting in this very moment, and still loving you from here, Pamela Madsen