Our contractions appear quite differently to us depending on how we relate to them.
If we identify with them – with the viewpoint of the stressful stories within them, we feel they are us and who we are. We take on their view on the world.
If we battle with them and try to avoid or get rid of them, they appear as other and a problem.
If we meet them and get to know them, they reveal themselves to us in a very different way. We see their innocence.
In the first case, they appear as a subject, as who we are. In the second, as an object, as other. And in the third, and if we look closely, as both. They appear as an object we relate to, and happening within and as what we are.
We can look at this in a bit more detail.
WHAT IS A CONTRACTION?
First, what are these contractions? They have psychological, physical, and energetic components.
The psychological component is made up of what we can call a belief (holding a stressful story as true), identification (identifying with the viewpoint of those stressful stories), hangups, emotional issues, or even trauma. All of those are names for the same essential dynamic.
Our mind associates these stories with certain physical sensations, and the sensations lend a sense of solidity and reality to the stories, while the stories give a sense of meaning to the sensations.
The physical contractions seem to be the mind’s way to make sure there are particular sensations available to support certain stressful stories. Some of these patterns come and go, and some are more chronic and lasting (chronic muscle tension + belief).
IDENTIFYING WITH CONTRACTIONS
When we identify with a contraction, we take on the viewpoint of the stressful stories creating the contraction. In a sense, we become the contraction and the way it looks at the world. We perceive, act, and live from the contraction, and as if the stories creating it are true.
We may habitually and stably identify with some of these contractions, and especially the ones that are older, more ingrained, and perhaps supported by our culture.
And we identify with some of the only in some situations, when they are triggered, and may later feel a bit foolish and ashamed.
TRYING TO MAKE THEM GO AWAY
With some contractions, we try to make them go away. We avoid them and distract ourselves from them. We may deny they are there. We may battle and struggle with them. We may try to fix them so they’ll be gone from our life.
All of this is really creating and going into additional contractions, in opposition to the initial ones.
And it can take almost endless forms, including any form of compulsion or addiction. We may get into spending hours online or watching movies. We may go into ideologies that distract us from the discomfort of the contractions. We may scapegoat and blame. Or go into victimhood, or hopelessness, or depression. We may try to achieve status and fame. We may try to prove to ourselves we are liked and loved, in whatever way we go about that. And so on.
BEFRIENDING THE CONTRACTION
Getting to know these contractions can have several angles and layers.
In essence, we notice how we habitually relate to the contractions and how that maintains them, and then to the reverse.
We may identify with it, so we instead see if we can notice it as an object.
We may try to make it go away, so instead, we welcome it. We can say: You are welcome here.
We may wrestle with it, so instead, we notice and allow it to be as it is (as best we can), and notice it’s already allowed (by life, mind, space). You are allowed to be here.
We may try to manipulate and change it, so instead, we see how it is to meet it with respect.
We may act on or dismiss the stressful stories within it, so instead, we identify and examine them, and perhaps find what’s more true for us.
We may try to contain it, so instead, we allow it to be as big as it wants.
We are often impatient with these contractions, so instead we can find some patience with them.
We may think we know what it is, if only that it’s something to act on or react to, so instead, we can see how it how to find curiosity about it.
We may see the contractions as other, and perhaps even mostly see them in others and not ourselves. So we can find it in ourselves and as part of who we are.
The contraction wants and needs something, and instead of denying this or trying to get it from the wider world, we can give it what it needs and wants here and now. (Often, love, respect, sense of safety, patience, etc.)
We may secretly hate the contraction, see we can see how it is to find genuine love for it. It comes from a desire to protect us, and it comes from innocence. It’s confused love, and seeing that makes it easier for us to find genuine love for it.
All of this helps us shift how we relate to the contractions. It helps us get to know and befriend them, and this helps the contractions relax.
YET ANOTHER STEP IF WE NOTICE WHAT WE ARE
If we notice what we are, there is more we can do.
We may find ourselves as capacity for our experience of the world, and what our experiences – of ourselves, the wider world, and anything else – happens within and as.
Our habitual pattern may be to notice ourselves, in a general way, as this, and yet not consciously or intentionally notice the contraction as this. We instead react to or on it.
The remedy here is to notice that the nature of the contraction is the same as our nature. We have the same nature. We know this intellectually, and it’s different to actually notice and rest in that noticing and allowing it to transform us.
And since all of this happens within and as what we are, we can invite the contraction itself to notice its own nature. We can ask it… Do you know what you are? Or a similar question. And we can also have a wordless intention for the contraction to notice its own nature.
This can be profoundly transformative.
MOVING AWAY FROM VS GETTING TO KNOW
So we can have the same contraction, we can relate to it in a few general ways, and the effect will be wildly different in each case.
The main two ways of relating to contractions is to move away from it or getting to know it. We can move away from it by (ironically) identifying with it, or struggling with it and reacting to it.
And we get to know it by treating it as we would like to be treated. With respect, welcome, allowing, gentle curiosity, and perhaps even for our true nature to be recognized and acknowledged.