Exploring contractions & why the term is useful

These days, I mostly explore contractions – by making friends with them and rest in recognizing their nature.

Why? The simple and honest answer is that I am, for whatever reason, drawn to it.

Another answer is that it’s direct, intimate, simple, and effective. It draws on essential dynamics I am familiar with, including through a diverse set of practices. And it supports healing, awakening, and living from awakening.


I like the term contraction for several reasons.

Contraction seems an accurate description of what’s happening. It refers to a contraction in our system, which is reflected in our psyche (reactivity, defensiveness, etc.), body (muscle contractions), and perhaps even in the energy system.

For many, the word contraction has less baggage than related terms like emotional issue, trauma, hangup, and so on.

It’s direct and visceral. It’s often something we can find and connect with here and now, without too much difficulty.

It gets to what’s in the way of emotional and human healing, awakening, and living from awakening.

It captures more of the whole of what’s going on, while some other terms refer to aspects of the dynamic.

It doesn’t require any reference to healing or awakening.


When we work with a contraction, we work on something that distracts us – and our system – from healing, awakening, and living from awakening.

Befriending contractions opens for healing as a human being. And resting in noticing its nature supports that healing, and also makes it easier for us to more consistently notice our nature in general and live from that noticing.

A contraction is a psychological issue. When contractions come up that we haven’t befriended, we tend to act on them or react to them, which means reinforcing the contraction. We tell ourselves its substantial, that the stressful story creating it is true, and so on. We get caught up in it, and go out of a more healthy way of responding and living. And if we generally notice our nature, we tend to “forget” that this contraction too has the same nature. We get distracted from noticing our nature and living from our nature.


Contractions in our system are expressed psychologically as reactivity, defensiveness, hangups, compulsions, persistent emotional states, and more. They are expressed as chronic or recurrent muscle contractions in our body. And if we work with energies, we may notice them as blocks in our energy system.

In a sense, contractions are created when we believe a thought. When we identify with the viewpoint of a thought. This creates a sense of I and Other, and a view and self that needs to be defended and protected. And that, in turn, creates a psychological, physical, and energetic contraction.


There are innumerable ways of working with contractions. Any healing modality that works, works with contractions. And anything that supports noticing what we are and living from it tends to directly or indirectly work with contractions.

These days, I am enjoying a simplified way of exploring my own contractions.

I notice the contraction – perhaps in the form of reactivity, stress, discomfort, defensiveness, compulsions, or similar.

This is a remedy for not noticing the contraction (!), and for getting caught up in it or in reactivity to it.

I notice the physical sensations making up the contraction. This helps “anchoring” my attention there, while also being aware of the other aspects of the contraction.

This is a remedy for getting caught up in the stressful stories related to the contraction, and getting caught up in reactivity.

I befriend it. I intentionally allow and welcome it, and notice it’s already allowed. (By life, mind, space.) I thank it for protecting me. I allow it to get as big as it wants. I rest with each of these as long as is needed for a shift to happen into genuinely welcome, thanking, and so on.

These are remedies for how we often respond to contractions – by wanting it to go away, seeing it as a problem, wanting to contain it, and so on.

I check out what it needs and wants. This comes from a sense of lack and is typically something essential and universal like love, safety, support, being seen, and so on. I do this by saying each word and noticing how the contraction responds. Does it relax? If so, I rest with it and allow it to receive what it needs. I do this for quite a while until I feel it has relaxed more deeply.

I notice its nature. I tend to first notice my own nature, perhaps with a dip into headless experiments or the big mind process. Then notice the nature of the contraction. And that its nature is my nature and the nature of everything in my world. I rest in this noticing until I notice a good shift. And then I invite the contraction to notice its own nature and rest in that noticing.

This is the simplified version, and there is a lot more to it depending on what seems helpful for the contraction in the moment. For instance, any contraction has a stressful belief within it creating and maintaining it, so I may find this belief and see if a more thorough inquiry into that belief is helpful. And when I notice the nature of the contraction, it seems that noticing and resting with the stillness and silence aspect of our / its nature is especially helpful.

I often explore contractions before falling asleep, if I wake up during the night, and after waking up in the morning. Sometimes, I take my time and go more in-depth. Other times, for instance in daily life situations, I just do the first two or three steps. I especially find “thank you for protecting me” helpful in shifting me out of getting caught in the contraction or in reacting to the contraction.

I find that this is an effective process, it’s intimate, and I can draw on a lot of what I am familiar with from having exploring these dynamics through a range of practices.


  • contractions
    • useful term
      • makes it less scary, has less baggage (than issue, hangup, trauma, may even stressful belief, identification)
      • is accurate, points to something important
    • psyche + body contraction, reflected in both areas, parts of same whole
    • supports healing and awakening
    • how created
      • belief, identification
      • to protect this self
    • how to work with
      • befriend, listen to, give what needs, notice its nature

Psyche + body
Like to talk about it that way
Makes it less scary
And is true


Contraction is a useful term since it’s accurate and has less baggage than terms referring to the same.


And it’s more visceral and immediately relatable for many than terms like identification, belief, and so on.


Working with contractions supports healing, awakening, and living from awakening.

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