By definition, expansion means broadening, opening up, widening. I notice when I feel expanded, especially through my writing. I am able to have my awareness spread out and through into the space and time I am in. For example, this summer I was in Paris (which is always a good idea) and felt everything come alive. The scents, scenes and descriptions all came together. So did my social circle and love life. My life there, while only two short months, felt like an entire lifetime. Everything came together so easily, organically and naturally. The feeling of expansion, of being able to take everything in, have your life click and blossom, is something I thoroughly miss, especially when I think about the duality of expansion.
Contraction, as its opposite, indicates shrinking, narrowing of focus, becoming smaller. In this chapter in LA, I find myself contracting. I don’t feel inspired by my current surroundings: a tiny studio apartment in a city by the beach where the waters aren’t safe to swim. Life feels a bit slower in coming together. In a year of living here, I haven’t made a bunch of friends. Yet I feel it is as important as a chapter of expansion. It allows me to hone in my focus, tending to my inner world with care and attention.
I read something recently that teaches the art of detachment. Not to not feel, but to realize and apply that thought of the impermanence of life and everything that happens to it. When contracting, perhaps in a sad/angry/fearful mood, allow it to go naturally and know that it won’t be forever. Yet when expanding, happy/joyful, revel in these moments to make them last as long as you can.
Like waves in the ocean, ebbing and flowing, emotions arise and come and go. You decide to choose what to react to and with. And with each choice, you start to paint your canvas of life. If I react with more optimism, joy, resiliency, that is what my canvas of life will mirror back to me. If I react with anger, fear and sadness, it will also reflect that. There are no good or bad emotions to paint with, just like there are no wrong colors. All of them are part of the rainbow colored spectrum of our human beingness…you get to pick your favorite colors to work with. And perhaps, sometimes, even a color you don’t like is necessary for your work.