Contraction and expansion happen within a bigger picture

How do I relate to contracted parts of me?

Do I get caught up in them? Do they fill my metaphorical field of vision?

Or do I recognize them as part of a bigger picture?

And what happens when I do?


It’s all happening within a bigger picture.

Any sense of contractions – bodily and mental – happens within who I am, and who I am is much more than this and much more diverse than this.

Any sense of contractions or expansion happens within and as what I more fundamentally am. It happens within and as the consciousnes I am. It happens within and as consciousness, just like any other content of experience.

And when I notice that, there is a softening of identification with the contracted parts of me. My center of gravity shifts more into the whole of who I am as a human self. And it shifts more into what I am, as this field of consciousness any and all experience happens within and as.


My muscles contract and relax, and there are some chronic contractions in some areas. (Mostly shoulders, and a bit in calves and jaw.)

My mind also contracts at times. Part of me takes stressful thoughts as true and are contracted. Other parts are more relaxed and expansive. And different situations trigger one or the other or a mix and bring them to the surface.


At a human level, all of this is happening within me.

Some parts of my body are relaxed. Some are more tense and contracted.

Some parts of my psyche are relaxed. And some are more contracted and tense.

It’s all happening within a bigger picture.


And more fundamentally, it’s all also happening within and as me.

At one level, I am this human self in the world. That’s how most others see me, what my passport tells me, and so on.

And more fundamentally, I find I am something else. In my first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally capacity for all my experiences. I am capacity for this field of experience as it is now.

I am what the sense fields – sights, sounds, smell, taste, sensations, mental imaginations – happen within and as.

To myself, I am consciousness, and the world, as it appears to me, happens within and as this consciousness.

I am what any and all experience happens within and as.

I am what any sense of contraction, relaxation, or expansion happens within and as.


If I don’t notice this, it’s easy to get caught up in whatever happens to be most on the surface.

A physical contraction gets strong and comes to the foreground of experience, and it fills my experience.

A mental contraction gets triggered and comes to the foreground, and I get caught up in it.

I get lost in what’s most salient and miss the bigger picture. I get caught up in it and perceive and live as if it’s all there is.


And when I notice the bigger picture, it’s different.

A contraction may be strong and in the foreground, and I notice it as part of a bigger field.

At my human level…

I notice it’s a part of my body, and other parts are more relaxed.

I notice it’s a part of my psyche, and other parts perceive things differently and are more relaxed.

I notice it happens as one of many parts of who I am as a human being.

This helps me not get so caught up in it. I notice it as an object within the content of experience. I can relate to it more intentionally.

As what I more fundamentally am…

I notice it’s happening within and as the consciousness I am.

I notice it’s happening within and as what I more fundamentally am.

I notice I am fundamentally capacity for it.

This too helps me not get so caught in it. It helps me recognize that its nature is the same as the nature of everything else in my field of experience. It helps soften and release identification out of it.


This is something we use in conventional psychology and therapy. It helps us when we are reminded of the bigger picture. When we notice that contracted parts of us are parts of us and not all of what we are. It gives us a mental distance to it, and it’s a little easier to not get caught up in it.

And it’s also something we explore when we investigate what we more fundamentally are. Here too, the bigger picture helps soften identification and shift our center of gravity into the bigger picture.

Exploring who we are (psychology) and what we are (spirituality) is not so different here. We find very similar dynamics.

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Exploring my struggle with silence

When we are in silence, without our usual distractions, we may notice a part of us struggling with this silence.

This is a current topic for me. In my twenties, I seemed very comfortable with silence and loved sitting in meditation on my own or with others. I would do it at least one or two hours a day, and often longer.

Later, when several layers of trauma surfaced, this got more difficult. Instead of a peaceful and quietly blissful silence, silence meant a meeting with very deep pain.

So my practice now, when I go into silence and absence of distractions, is to notice and meet the parts of me struggling with the silence and the pain. How is it to notice and befriend these parts of me? How is it to notice their nature?

How is it to notice the stillness and silence in my nature? How is it to notice it taking the form of contractions, discomfort, and so on?

The essence of this exploration is very simple, and it can also have several different aspects:

Notice the parts of me struggling with the pain, and associating silence and absence of distractions with this pain. Notice they are parts and objects within consciousness.

Befriending them. Getting to know them. Listen to their views and stories.

Find their needs, wants, and sense of lack, and give what they lack and want to them. (Often love, safety, support, and so on.)

Notice their nature. Rest in that noticing. Inviting them to notice their own nature and rest in that noticing.

And do the same with whatever contractions come up, both the ones reacting to the trauma and pain and the ones in trauma and pain. (Not that they are very different from each other.)

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.

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Befriend & awaken contractions – a simplified version

I thought I would make a brief note of a simplified befriending & awakening process I find helpful these days.

  1. Contraction
    I notice a contraction. Any reactivity, tension, stress, defensiveness, and so on.
    I notice the physical sensations – where they are etc. – and ground my attention there while also being aware of any stories and images connected with it. (Any contraction is a mind-body contractions, it has mind and body components.)
  2. Allow and thanks
    I allow it as it is. Notice it’s already allowed as it is. (By mind, space, life.)
    I thank it for protecting me. I keep thanking it for protecting me for a while. (All contractions are here to protect me, to protect this human self and this imagined separate self.)
  3. What does it need?
    I try out a few universals to see what it needs and lacks. (Contractions all have needs, wants, and come from a sense of lack.) This may be love, safety, being seen, support, and so on.
    When I find one that resonates, I stay with it. I allow the contraction to receive it here and now. (Sometimes, it’s a combination of two or three, and I may do it first in series and then combined.)
  4. What is its nature?
    I can ask it: What is your nature?
    I notice my own nature – as capacity for all my experiences and the world as it appears to me now. I notice that the world, as it appears to me, happens within and as what I am. (What a thought may label consciousness, awakeness, space, and so on.)
    I notice that the nature of the contraction is the same, it’s part of the field. I rest in this noticing.
    I invite the contraction to notice its own nature, and rest in that noticing.

Although this is the simplified version I am drawn to right now, there are a lot more possible wrinkles and variations to this process. I may have a brief dialog with the contraction. I may notice the stressful story within the contraction needs more examination. It may lead me to other contractions. I may go back to situations early in life where I first remember experiencing a similar contraction. And so on.

I often do this with contractions up and activated right now. And sometimes, I go back in time and remember a contraction, connect with it here and now, and explore it. (It won’t be as strong, but it’s here in my system, and connecting with it is enough for this process to work.)

These days, I tend to do this before falling asleep at night, if I wake up at night, and after waking up in the morning. I may also do a briefer version during the day, for instance just thanking a contraction for protecting me if it comes up in a situation.

Contractions and dreams

I woke up this morning, having dreamt a man was about to kill me. The man was big, strong, heavily armed, and unyielding.

Obviously, that’s a part of me. It’s another part living from unloved fear and unexamined scary stories.

Unloved fear, unexamined stories, identifications, emotional issues, hangups, trauma, those are all names for the same dynamics.

Yet another name is contraction. This man in the dream is a contraction in me. A part of me that has contracted because of unloved fear, unexamined stories, and so on.

I can explore contractions showing up in dreams as I explore any other contraction.

After waking up, I took time with this man and the contraction he represents.

I noticed the physical sensations associated with him. (Very faint.)

I welcome the sensations and him. I notice all of it is already allowed, and join in with the allowing.

I allow it to get as big as it wants.

I thank it for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. (The contraction is here to protect me and comes from care for me, it’s confused love.)

I am curious about its needs and wants, and the lack it comes from. I give it love. Am a safe harbor for it. See it. Notice which one(s) resonates the most with the contraction.

I notice its nature and rest in that noticing.

I invite it to notice its own nature and rest in and as it.

Working with contractions: a puzzle where we find the shapes that fit

When we work more initmately with our contractions, it’s a kind of puzzle where we try out and find the right shapes.

I experience a contraction. I bring attention to the physical sensations of the contraction for grounding, while being aware of the images and stories connected with it.

From here, it’s really quite open. What holds the contraction in place, will be a little different for each contraction. And that means that the remedy, the puzzle piece that fits, will be a little different for each contraction.

At the same time, there are some universals, and it may be good to go through a set of universals to see what the contraction responds to and what’s needed.


When there is a contraction, there is usually a part of me not welcoming it. The remedy here is to intentionally welcome it. To help shift into this, I can say to the contraction: You are welcome here.

A variation of this is that parts of me likely don’t want to allow the contraction. So here, I can intentionally allow it. And I can also notice that the contraction is already allowed. It’s allowed by mind, space, life, and I can more consciously align with the allowing that’s already here.

Parts of me likely wish to contain the contraction. So I can allow the contraction to uncontain itself. I can say to it: Get as big as you want.

Parts of me may see the contraction as a problem and up to no good. The remedy here is to recognize that it’s here to protect me, to protect the imagined separate self. It’s innocent. It’s a bit confused. It comes from care and love. It’s confused love. (This step may require some additional exploration first, unless we are very familiar with this terrain and have explored a lot of other contractions before and regularly found this.) To help connect with this, I can say: Thank you for protecting me.

Similarly, several parts of me may not genuinely love the contraction. When I see it’s innocent, here to protect me, and comes from love, it’s easier to find genuine love for the contraction. Thank you for your love for me.

The contraction has an unexamined stressful story. It’s created and maintained by one or a set of stressful stories. It can be helpful to identify and examine these, either in the moment or more thoroughly through structured inquiry.

The contraction has needs and wants, and comes from a sense of lack. What are those needs and wants? What is the lack it comes from? Can I give it to the contraction here and now? If it needs and lacks love, how is it to give it love? If it wants and lacks a sense of safety, how is it to be a safe harbour for it? If it wants and lacks a sense of acknowledgment and being seen, how is it to see it here and now?

Typically, there is a part of me that resists contractions. This part wants it to go away in any way possible, through distraction, pushing it away, trying to fix it, pretend it’s not there, and so on. This resistance is innocent, comes from unexamined and unloved fear, and is another contraction. So it makes sense to explore this contraction in the ways described above, and to do this relatively early in the process.

In general, it makes sense to check if I come from a contraction when I explore a contraction, and explore this contraction first.

Even if there is a general or global kind of recognition of our nature, I may not recognize the nature of the contraction. So how is it to recognize its nature? What happens if I notice its nature? What happens when I notice the different aspects of its nature? That it happens within and as what I am? That it’s part of the seamless whole of the field? That it has no real substance? That it happens within and as what a thought may label consciousness? That it is stillness and silence taking that particular form? That it is love taking that particular form? How is it to rest with and as this noticing?

Similarly, the contraction may not notice its own nature. How is it to invite it to notice its nature? How is it to invite it to rest in and as that noticing? What are you really? Do you know your nature? Do you know what you are made of?


Trying these and more out is like trying out puzzle pieces. Which one fits in this spot? And usually, it’s a set of different pieces.

There are also some orientations that are helpful here. For instance, sincerity, respect, curiosity, receptivity, playfulness, and a sense of adventrue.

It may also be that what worked in the past, doesn’t seem to work anymore. Perhaps life is asking us to become even more intimate? To explore a bit more closely? To find another angle that’s a bit different from what we are used to?

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How contractions appear depending on how we relate to them

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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Why we feel lighter

Why do we sometimes feel lighter? For instance, if something desirable happens, or we have a release through inquiry, Vortex Healing, TRE, or something else?

Stressful beliefs (identifications, trauma) come with muscle contractions. In order to believe a thought, the thought has to be associated with sensations, and these sensations give the thought a sense of substance and reality. The thought feels true. The easiest way to have these sensations readily available is through muscle contractions. So when the mind needs to believe a thought, it contracts associated muscles to provide sensations, and these in turn give the thoughts a sense of solidity and reality. These muscle contractions feel dense and heavy. We – almost literally – feel the weight of our stressful beliefs or identifications.

So when we are either distracted from these stressful beliefs, or they are released, there is a sense of lightness. The muscle contractions lighten up or go away, so we feel lighter.

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Body contractions as a component of trauma, anxiety, depression, addictions, low self-esteem and more

Body contractions are an important component of trauma, anxiety, depression, addiction, low self-esteem and more.

The mind needs sensations to give imagination a sense of solidity and reality and to give it a charge. So it tenses muscles to create these sensations.

They are sometimes temporarily amplified as needed in the situation. And if the mind wishes to create a more lasting experience of trauma etc., then the body contractions can be more lasting and chronic.

These contractions are somewhat individual and can be just about anywhere on the body, although they are often in the torso along the mid-line and also in the throat and head area. They can be on the skin or deeper in the body. (They can even sometimes be experienced as outside of the physical body, when imagination makes physical sensations appear in the space outside of the body.)

There are many ways to work with these contractions and what they are a component of. We can do inquiry on them and see how we relate to them and also what imaginations are connected with them.

Through inquiry, we get to see how we relate to the contractions and also what imaginations (memories, images, words) are connected to them.

We can tap on them, hold, massage.

Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) can help release the physical contraction. This will, in turn, take some of the charge out of what the contraction is a part of whether it’s trauma, anxiety, depression, addiction or something else.

We can use different forms of energy and/or bodywork to (a) shift how we relate to the contraction (befriend it), or (b) release the contraction.

Exploring the contraction both from the mind (inquiry) and the body side is often helpful and sometimes essential.

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Body contractions follow and make possible stressful beliefs

It’s easy to think of body contractions as an effect of stressful beliefs (Velcro, identifications), and that’s accurate enough. It does seem that stressful beliefs create bodily contractions, and persistent and persistently retriggered beliefs may create persistent and chronic body contractions.

And the reverse may be true too.

Body contractions fuel stressful beliefs, and with it unquestioned fears, deficient and inflated selves, reactivity, and compulsions. Without body contractions, it may not even be possible to believe a stressful thought.

As I have written about before (long before I got into the Living Inquiries), it seems that in order to believe a thought, it has to be associated with sensations. These sensations lends a charge, and sense of solidity and reality, to the thought, so it’s possible to hold it as real and true.

So in order to believe a thought, the body-mind tenses certain muscles to create sensations which in turn can be used to give charge and lend a sense of solidity and reality to the thought. That’s, at least, one way to look at it.

It’s really not easy to believe a thought, so tensing muscles is one way to make it easier and more possible. And when the stressful belief is persistent and recurrent, it tends to require a persistent and/or recurrent body contraction.

This is one reason it can be very helpful to work at this – stressful beliefs, anxiety, depression, compulsions, addictions – from both the mind and body sides. We can do inquiry, loving kindness, ho’oponopono, natural rest and more. And we can massage the contraction, release tension through therapeutic tremors (TRE), do yoga, receive bodywork, and more. These approaches go hand in hand, along with working with the larger social system if possible, spending time in nature, engage in physical activities, improving the diet, and whatever else is helpful.

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Even the strongest contraction happens within boundless space 

That’s it, really.

Even the strongest contraction happens within boundless space.

If I don’t notice that, attention may get absorbed into the contraction itself and the stories creating and reacting to it. I may experience my world becoming hard and small, and experience and act from that hard and small world.

When I do notice the boundless space it’s all happening within and as, something shifts. It’s all allowed to be as it is, and it feels less small, less contracted, perhaps even less real and solid. The qualities of the space I am noticing becomes my experience, and what I am. It always was and is what I am, and by noticing it there is a shift.

It’s pretty obvious. When all I notice is my contraction and contraction-inducing stories, that’s how I experience myself and my world. When I notice the boundless space it’s all happening within and as, that’s how I experience myself and my world.

Why is it boundless? How can I explore the boundlessness? The easiest is to notice that any boundary is imagined, it’s created by my own images and perhaps words, sometimes associated with sensations, and these too happen within space. Any boundary happens within space, so the space itself is boundless.

Self control vs seeing through 

A client mentioned a few times that he needs more self-control.

If we take our urges to be solid and real, then it seems we need self-control to deal with or oppose them. That’s stressful. It creates a sense of struggle, and we may even lose that struggle.

Fortunately, there is another way.

We can examine the urge. How is it created? What images, words, and sensations makes it up? Can I find the urge in any one of the images, words, and sensations? Do any of them tell me to do something? And if it does, what images, words, and sensations tells me it does?

As I explore this, and get to see the images, words, and sensations making up the urge, the urge itself may soften or fall away. And as it does, self-control is revealed as not needed. (Of course, self-control can be explored in a similar way. Can I actually find what self-control seems to refer to? What images, words, and sensations makes up what appears as self-control? What’s the threat if I don’t have or use self-control?)

I should also mention that urges are often connected to a persistent body contraction, and this may need more exploration and work. There may be more images and words connected to the contraction,  creating and reacting to it. Physical activities, including TRE, yoga, and massage, may help release the tension and the contraction. As the contraction soften and releases, the urge may too, since bodily contractions seem to fuel urges and compulsions.

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Taking stories as true, and bodily contractions

When I believe a story, it seems to come with a bodily contraction.

There are good reasons for this.

To believe a story, it seems that it has to be attached to sensations. Sensations associated with images and words gives them a charge, and lends them a sense of reality, solidity and truth. It seems that it may not be possible (?) to believe a story unless it’s attached to a sensation in this way.

And to create sensations, we need to tense up muscles. In other words, create a contraction.

As usual, there are different ways to explore this.

Rest with the sensations and any images and words that come up. Notice and allow.

Inquire into the associated images and words. See what’s there. See if they are a threat. See if they are X. (A deficient self or whatever the contraction seems connected with.)

Perhaps also meet it with kindness. See it’s there to protect, it comes from caring, from love.

Neurogenic tremors (TRE) can also be helpful, releasing the tension out of the body. (Of course, this tends to come back unless the stories creating the tension have been examined and perhaps loved.)

These contractions – and really the beliefs creating them – seem to fuel reactivity, anxiety, depression, compulsions, addictions and more. That’s why it can be very helpful to not only explore this from the belief (velcro, identification) side, but also the physical side.

What’s the mechanism that leads from beliefs to bodily contractions? One way to look at it is that beliefs often come from and create (unloved) fear, and that’s why the muscles tense up – in order to prepare us to flee or fight.

Scott Kiloby: Dissolving Inner Fists With Gentle Attention and Loving Kindness

Once these contractions were seen like little fists, just gently bringing thought-free attention to them in the moment they began to contract was very helpful, and very loving. For years, I was highly unconscious of these little fists. They were essentially ignored. I was in my head mostly. But bringing awareness to these little fists whenever they contracted was a loving gesture.

I remember spending hours each night, before sleep, resting attention very gently in those areas where contraction was felt. This felt like the most loving thing I had ever done – to care enough to pay attention to these little fists.

Paying attention, along with the Living Inquiries, conscious breathing, some Tong Ren and Acupuncture, was really all that was needed to dissolve these little fists.

It took time. Some contractions didn’t dissolve for months, or even years. Infinite patience was part of the love. To be infinitely patient is not to wait in time or forever, with the idea of some future moment when everything will dissolve. It is to rest right now with whatever is there.

To rest without expectation that anything will happen is truly a peaceful and loving way to work with these little fists. I often work with clients at the Center on these contractions. They want a quick fix. They want them to dissolve immediately. This is a natural inclination. We live in a culture where we are taught to look for quick fixes.

But these contractions were often formed long ago and solidified through years of unconsciousness. They usually don’t dissolve right away for that reason. And whenever we are applying pressure to the contractions as a way to dissolve them, they often just stay contracted. Infinite patience, loving kindness and paying attention directly is just the right medicine.

– Scott Kiloby, Contractions: Dissolving These Little Inner Fists With Gentle Attention and Loving Kindness

Throat contraction

Over the last year-and-a-half, I have noticed a body contraction that seems to move up.

It started with a strong contraction in the solar plexus. Then the heart. And now the throat. Each one has lasted for a few months, and it has corresponded with old wounds and traumas surfacing relating to each. For instance, with the heart contraction, there was a lot of wounds around being unlovable and unloved that came up…. to be seen, felt, loved, rested with.

Now, with the throat contraction, I find my voice sounding held back and contracted as well, and I cough quite a bit. There are also wounds (identifications, beliefs) surfacing relating to being visible in the world, being seen as an authority, taking more of a leadership role, communicating my truth, and more.

These movable contractions is in addition to a more persistent contraction in my shoulders, and some in my calves, which I also hold in presence when I remember.

Body contractions seem to come from identifications and beliefs at odds with the world (which beliefs necessarily are). And they also seem to fuel reactivity and compulsions, including the compulsion to go to ideas and identifications for (a sense of) safety.

When I explore images and words associated with these contractions, what comes up range from abstract images, to personal memories, to family and cultural patterns.

Compulsive seeking

Nothing new here, and it’s something I have noticed from myself and also seen in others.

Compulsive seeking comes from trying to escape from (or fix) an uncomfortable feeling. And behind that feeling is a body contraction.

The seeking can take any form….. a seeking of comfort, understanding, status, love, enlightenment, being saved, money, house, and anything else.

None of these are wrong. And even when the compulsive seeking finds rest, and the feelings are felt, and the contraction perhaps softens or dissolves, we will still aim for a good life, and do the “inner” and “outer” work needed. Although now from a different and more restful place.

Scott Kiloby: Body Contraction Exercise

1. Start by feeling the contracted energy as yourself, without thoughts.  Do not try to stand outside of it and witness it from awareness.  Feel it fully.  Without thoughts means without words on it or with a quiet mind. If your mind cannot quiet enough to feel that energy directly, use the Living Inquiries to relax some of the stories in the mind that are pulling your attention away from the contracted energy.

2. As you are feeling the contraction, look for any shapes or mental pictures on or near it. Sometimes there is a picture or shape on the energy itself. As you are looking at that shape or mental picture, continue resting as that sensation while looking at the shape or picture.  If there are no shapes or pictures on the energy, simply feel the contraction gently by itself.

3. As you are feeling the energy and noticing any shape or picture, say to the contraction, “Thank you for arising, I love you, stay as long as you like.”  This helps quiet the resistance to the contraction.  After saying this phrase, rest and let the energy and any pictures or shapes be as they are for a bit (10 to 30 seconds).

4. Tap seven times with the ends of two fingers in each of the following places in order: right between the eyebrows, right next to one eye where the eye meets the temple, right under the same eye at the top of that cheek bone, and then right at the base of the neck at the top of the collarbone.  Finally, tap seven times right where the contraction is.  For example, if the contraction is in the stomach, tap seven times there.

5. Grab one wrist with the other hand. Take a deep and long inhale and then a deep and long exhale.

6. Rest and be aware of the present space within and outside your body, as one space.  Do nothing at this point.  Just let the contraction merge with the space.

7. Notice how the contraction feels. Is it denser?  Has it relaxed?

8. Go back to the beginning and repeat steps 1 through 7 until the contraction has released or has substantially dissolved.

– Scott Kiloby from Tier One Body Contraction Exercise 1: Tapping

Read the full article at his website, and also related articles that gives some context. Also, feel free to contact me to explore this further. I am a certified Living Inquiry facilitator.

Body contractions

It seems that body contractions are created by beliefs, and also hold beliefs in place. There is a “mutual support” between identifications and unquestioned beliefs and fears, and body contractions. And these contractions and identifications also fuel compulsions and reactiveness, and create traumas and wounds.

This contraction-identification “knot” can be explored in different ways.

I can release the physical tension through, for instance, Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). This may also soften the identifications, although they will still be there as long as they are unquestioned.

I can explore the body contractions through the Living Inquiries, looking at the different words and images associated with a specific contraction, so the sensations can be felt as sensations.

I can examine and question the beliefs and identifications creating the contractions, through – for instance – the Living Inquiries or The Work.

There are also other options, such as…..

Exploring the beliefs and identifications as subpersonalities, through – for instance – Voice Dialog or the Big Mind Process.

Finding love for the identifications, fears and contractions, through loving kindness, tonglen, ho’oponopono, placing it in the heart flame or similar.

Holding Satsang with what’s there – any subpersonalities, beliefs, identities, fears, contractions.

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Things to do when there is contraction

I am in a phase again where there are occasional strong contractions. My mind contracts into beliefs (complaints, self-pity), my breath gets shallow, I resist the contraction and think I am doing it wrong, and when it goes far enough, I partly forget and partly don’t want to use any tools in my tool box. At this point, time is what seems to help the most.

Here are some reminders to myself of what I can do.

As the contraction starts

  • Notice the trigger, the situation and beliefs
  • Give mind/body over to the divine, including the contraction and resistance to the contraction
  • Drink water (herbal teas, beef broth), take Chulen
  • Use the body. Shake, neurogenic tremors / TRE + walk outdoors
  • Breathe and stay with the sensations/feelings
  • Rest, notice what’s here is already allowed

As it happens

  • Walk outdoors
  • Notice sensations, and beliefs about what they mean, take to gentle inquiry
    • Is it true this sensation means I am doomed?
    • Is it true this sensation means something terrible happened? Is it true it means something terrible will happen?
    • Do these sensation say anything about what’s real?
  • Breathe and stay with the sensations/feelings

When it’s lighter

  • Inquiry on triggers and the contraction itself
    • Some beliefs: I made a mistake, I lost what’s important to me, my life will be miserable
  • Set intention to remember these things when the contraction starts
  • Pray for guidance and support
  • Training stable attention (attention on the sensations at the nostrils)
  • Rest, allow what’s here + notice it’s already allowed
  • Bring attention to the heart flame, put mind/body in the flame, put contraction and resistance to it into the flame