I continue to work with contractions and openings, and asking myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
Habitual Ways of Contracting
Each of us have habitual ways of contracting, with symptoms on all levels – physical, emotional and mental. For me, it is shallow breath, contraction of the calf muscles, a sense of aversion and resistance, and circular mental processes including judgment and blame. There is a sense of everything contracting, shrinking, becoming more rigid, of cutting myself off from life, of resistance to what I am experiencing. And I revisit old situations in a way that only brings the spiral further down.
When we become aware of our habitual ways of contracting, we can also notice it sooner. It becomes a reminder that we are indeed contracting, and that there is a process to open up. For me, this consists of breathing more deeply, of bringing focus to spaciousness, coming to my breath and the weight of the body, and of asking myself the question.
I also ask myself what else I can do to allow it to open, which could be going outside for some fresh air, taking a walk, playing with the cat, do some self-breema or breema bodywork, talk with a friend, go to the library, listen to some music, eat an apple or some other food that I know helps my clarity, or something else.
Sometimes, it lifts the contractions right away. Other times, I have to work with it for a while. I have to let a little bit of light in, allow for some opening, before I can allow it to open further. It is a long and iterative process sometimes, although it works. And each time I do it, the habitual patterns soften a little and a new habit forms. The habit of allowing myself to open up when there is a contraction.
Contraction & Opening of Awareness
I also notice that the contraction and opening is quite literal, and is a contraction and opening of awareness.
In the contracted state, awareness is very much identified with and caught up in the processes of the personality – the sensations, emotions and mental processes. It is literally a contraction of awareness, to a point where there is very little spaciousness and sense of overview. I am blindly caught up in the habitual processes of the personality.
In the open state, awareness is aware of itself. There is a sense of space and overview. The phenomena of the personality unfolds within awareness, within a larger space. The experience is held in a gentler way. And the space and overview gives more of a choice in how I relate to whatever arises in the inner and outer world. Awareness is literally more open, expanded.
And as we engage in this process of being with whatever we are experiencing, maybe combined with another (intensifying) practice such as mediation, the sense of spacious awareness deepens. It unfolds further.
Until, at some point, it recognizes itself as the spacious and luminous awareness in which all phenomena of the outer/inner world unfolds. It is the space in which the fluid and seamless universe unfolds.