How do we respond to and meet contractions in ourselves? Do we struggle with them? (Avoid, join in, try go make go away.) Or do we befriend them? (Notice, allow, welcome, get to know.)
And what are these contractions? They are body-mind contractions. They are muscle contractions and have a physical component. And they are mind contractions, in the form of beliefs, identifications, hangups, wounds, and trauma. (All names for the same dynamics.) The two go together and come from the same overall contractions.
If we struggle with these when they surface, they tend to be reinforced. We relate to them as if the stressful stories within them are real and true and possibly threatening, so we reinforce the impression that they are real, true, and threatening.
And we can struggle with them in many different ways. We try to avoid them, distract ourselves from them, pretend they are not there, and so on. We join in with them and their stressful stories, and fuel and elaborate on the stressful stories and see the world from their view. We try to make it go away by fixing and healing it, and do from a compulsive place.
We meet contractions from a contracted place, and that reinforces the contractions all around.
If we befriend these contractions, they have the opportunity to relax and unwind.
How do we befriend them? By noticing, allowing, welcoming, and meeting them with respect, patience, and a gentle curiosity, as we would a suffering friend, child, or animal.
We notice they are here. We accept they are here, since they already are here. We allow them to be as they are, and notice they are already here as they are. We can actively welcome them. (“You are welcome here”.) We can treat them with respect. We can honor them as they are. We have patience with them. They have their own processes and life.
We can have a gentle curiosity about them. We can listen to what they have to tell us. (“If it could speak, what would it say?”) We can listen for their advice. (“What advice does it have for X? (X=this human self.)) We can find the stressful story or stories behind it, and find what’s genuinely more true for us.
We can recognize that they are here to protect us, to protect this human self. Many of them were created in childhood, to protect us, and they were created from that child’s way of looking at the world. They come from innocence. And they come from care and love. In a very real way, they are confused love.
Through seeing they come from love, we may more easily meet them with genuine love.
We may notice they are created by sensations and mental images and words. The sensations give a sense of solidity and even truth to the stories, and the stories give a sense of meaning to the sensations. If we pay attention to one side of this at a time, we learn to differentiate the two and the “glue” holding them together tends to weaken and soften.
We may notice they happpen within and as our sense fields. They happen within and as what we are. They have the same true nature as ourselves. (They are capacity for themselves, they are awake space.)
LIKE CREATES LIKE
When contractions are met from a contracted place, they are reinforced. We reinforce their scary nature for ourselves.
And when they are befriended, they are allowed to relax and unravel.
WHAT A CLEAR AND KIND MIND NATURALLY DOES
When we befriend our experiences, and especially the contractions in our system, we meet them as a good friend, as a good parent meets a scared child, as we would meet a frightened animal.
We also meet our experiences as awakening naturally does. As we do when we notice what we are, and notice these contractions as happening within and as what we are. We are mimicking something that naturally happens within awakening.
This is all a very natural process, and since most of us don’t always do this naturally – for instance, when especially scary contractions come up in us – it’s often something we need to explore more intentionally.
We need to get familiar with how to befriend our experiences, and especially the more (apparently) scary ones.
We may even need some training wheels, in the form of specific practices. And then, as we get more familiar with it, it gets simpler and more natural. It gets more intimate.
HEALING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LIFE
This is a very simple process (although not always easy!) that heals our relationship with our experiences, and it invites in healing for our human self.
And if we are interested in noticing what we are, it helps us notice that even these contractions are what we are. They happen within and as our sense fields. They happen within and as what we are, and we share the same true nature. And this makes it easier to notice what we are even when these contractions surface.
Befriending our experiences, and in particular our contractions, in this way… is simple, natural, heals our relationship with our experiences, invites in healing for our human self, and supports noticing what we are.
We find healing for our relationship with life, all around.
Life finds healing for its relationship with itself.
How contractions are maintained vs allowed to unravel
Separation consciousness maintains itself in certain ways, perhaps mainly by struggling with itself. And awakening invites all of this, the bubbles of separation consciousness in our system, to join itself, mainly through recognizing it for what it is.
How separation consciousness maintains itself, and how awakening invites contractions to join with the awakening
Separation consciousness maintains itself in certain ways, as does awakening. And if we are in an awakening process, we may notice both operating in us.
Separation consciousness struggles with contractions when they come up – in the form of beliefs, emotional issues, hangups, identifications, traumas, stress, and so on. (All names for the same type of dynamic.) The struggle can take the form of reactivity, reinforcing stressful beliefs, distractions, and so on, and it all tends to be habitual and compulsive. It’s a programming. Through that struggle, these contractions are maintained.
The contractions are formed and operate from separation consciousness, and when our mind relates to them from separation consciousness – and struggles with them and joins in with the contractions – they are maintained and reinforced.
Awakening relates to contractions differently. Here, when they surface, they are noticed and allowed. They are recognized as having the same true nature as all of what we are – as capacity for themselves, awake space taking that temporary form. They are recognized as a flavor of the divine. As the play of consciousness and an expression of the inherent creativity of consciousness.
They are recognized as coming from separation consciousness. As having been formed often early in life, in order to protect this human self. They come from the consciousness of a child. They come from care and love, and also confusion and unbefriended fear.
They are like confused and scared children coming to us for safety and love. They are like confused devotees coming to us as their guru to find liberation. They want what we want when we feel confused and scared, they wish to be met with respect, kindness, listening, patience, and a gentle curiosity. They seek us as a boat in a storm seeks a safe harbor.
LIVING WITH BOTH, AND FEEDING ONE MORE THAN THE OTHER
I can find both in me, both the impulse of separation consciousness to struggle with itself and reinforcing itself, and the impulse of awakening to recognize itself in the contractions and confusions that comes up, and meet it with kindness, patience, and love.
I imagine this is a common phase in the awakening process, and that it can last for quite a while – although the balance between the two and which one we typically feed may shift over time. As we get more familiar with both of these dynamics, we get to see more in detail how each work and what the consequences are. So we’ll naturally be drawn to support the awakening way of relating to contractions.
It’s a natural process, and it’s a process we can intentionally support and consciously join with.
AWAKENING IS NOT REQUIRED
Awakening is not required for us to explore this process. We can notice when we reinforce contractions, and we can explore noticing and allowing what’s here, and meet contractions with a welcome, respect, kindness, patience, and gentle curiosity.
That, in itself, helps the contractions to soften and unwind. It’s an example of mimicking what happens more naturally when we are familiar with noticing what we are and living from it.
We mimic how we tend to relate to contractions when we are more clear, and it invites in similar effects.