It can be very helpful to learn how to notice our own contractions. What are the typical symptoms? What happens on physical, emotional, mental and relationship levels?
When we notice contractions, we can make a conscious shift into more spaciousness.
And there are several techniques we can use for these shifts. One is to be whatever comes up – I am confusion, tension, contraction. This takes away the separation, and allows it to unstick and flow in whatever way it needs to. Another is to be with whatever comes up. This also allows it to unfold as it needs to. And there are also others which include coming to the breath and the weight of the body, and change of posture (more upright, relaxed).
Hooks & Rings
We can also examine what is prior to the contraction. There is a trigger in the inner/outer situation (a hook) which triggers a physical/emotional/mental pattern. This in itself is only a potential contraction. If awareness get caught up in this pattern, if it identifies with it and fuels or tries to push it away, we have a contraction. Awareness contracts from its inherent spaciousness, into being identified with something more limited.
Uninvestigated thoughts can be hooks. When we – or a part of us – believe a particular thought, and this gets triggered, there is a contraction. And this is independent on the specific content of the thought – whether it is related to attraction, aversion or seemingly neutral.
Any thought is always a limited perspective, and when we believe it, existence has a way of letting us know we are settling for something less than the fluidity and inclusiveness of existence. And this pointer is suffering.
All this is written from the perspective of wanting to avoid suffering, which is an understandable and valid orientation. But this too is limited. The other side of it is appreciating what is – whether it is contraction or spaciousness, delusion or clarity. It is all a part of existence.
And for each of us, there is a wonderful fluidity in shifting from one to the other. It is part of the richness of life.