Expansion Versus Contraction – The Nature of Being

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Perhaps today’s political polarization is an inevitable part of our human history. Cycles of expansion and contraction have characterized all eras of human history, ruling over the natural order of human evolution. Today Trump repeatedly asserts that in order to make America great again, “We must build a wall to keep out all who…” Perhaps this contractive statement is best understood through human nature itself.

We are born as infants, owing full debt to our primary caregiver, without whom survival is not feasible. We begin life in this contracted state of full dependence, unable to exercise our  will for anything but survival, unable to care for our developing emotional needs without risking that vital connection to caregiver. We learn quickly by embodied experience that we depend on our bond to whoever controls our destiny; we give of ourselves completely to appease their whims, their moods, their needs, lest they should reject us.

Life begins in a contractive state that compels us to identify with our need of connection for survival, that above any other self-need. Only as our nervous system (including our cognitive function) develops are we able to begin the journey into expansion by separation from our caregiver through the process of individuation (i.e. discovering our personality). We evolve by seeking definition between our self and those around us. We marvel at any small act of self-empowerment. For a young child, the impact of throwing a stone in the water and watching its ripple effect provides a thrill as the product of their unique effort. There is a first time where we experience our self as a cause rather than an effect, and this sets the wheel in motion; forever seeking greater autonomy. We develop a sense of self, gaining step-by-step sovereignty over our self… until the “effect” mistakes it self for “cause”. At some undefined point, the ever-expanding ego becomes confused, believing itself to be the “cause” of who we are rather than the “effect” of our need for self-expression. It is then that we are prone to becoming lost in egoic delusion. The moment our mind is deluded by the mistaken belief that we are our ego, (i.e. confusing subject and object); at that moment we re-enter the contractive state. We move away from potential self-realization by ceasing to see our individuation as a mechanism for self-expression, contained within the vaster experience of our soul.

Once the ego eclipses our primary connection to the wholeness of humanity, we have lost our power to connect with the infinite. Our source of power is the infinite in us. All that responds to expansiveness, that is open to creativity, growth, and gaining experience that lends meaning to our lives, serves in recognition of our humanity and our wholeness. The benign in us, is any aspect that holds self-limiting, self-judging beliefs, and exports its power to systems outside our self. The ego is clearly defined by the latter.

Yet we must not disparage the ego, for it is an essential part of our evolution, our transformation. We must acquire it in order to master it. All the events of our life are but opportunities for us to recognize the deceptive nature of the ego and grant us the wisdom to re-assert true control over what we are. Expansiveness must follow nature’s order in evolving; it must wrestle back control from its counter-point of contraction. Contraction remains as vital to our growth process as does expansion, since they represent the yin and yang of life. We cannot have one without the other. One serves the purpose of affirming the existence of the other.

 

Advice For Reclaiming Self-Power –

It is essential to appreciate your sense of individuality, love yourself for all the unique traits you embody today. Don’t stop at that however, remember your individuality is but an aspect of your wholeness, designated to reveal the fullness of your truth at a deeper, more profound level. You are a spiritual being living in a physical body. You needn’t be confined to the narrow limits of physical awareness. You have the potential of living from all that you are. Your wholeness exists through your spirit-nature where interconnectedness is our common birthright.

Through the highly social character of our human nature, we feel the power of connection through satisfaction and joy derived from all loving and compassionate relationships. We are buoyed by feelings of synchronicity with others. As we gain maturity, we practice attunement with others as our basis for emotional self-regulation. We gain comfort as we share breath through speech, feelings through touch, and energy through movement. The bliss of human interaction lies in the fine art of synchronization, just as the skillful hands of the conductor coax perfect symphonic harmony from disparate instruments.

The whole of who we are is infinitely more gratifying than the sum of our parts.

I Know This Much Is True

I try to live by the guidelines of The Four Agreements. While they are simple in essence, they require our ongoing inward attention in order that we embody their words of wisdom.

One – Be Impeccable With Your Word – Say what you mean and mean what you say. The implication here is to speak truthfully. In addition, one must discern what should be said from what is better not spoken. Speaking one’s truth is important, yet there are times when silence is golden. The overriding objective of any life well-lived is to purposefully create conditions consistent with the greater  good, (i.e. collectively as well as personally). While we are not required to sacrifice self-integrity by committing to words or actions solely for the sake of pleasing (i.e. people pleasing behaviors), we are wise to discriminate when to speak up and when to hold our tongue.

Two – Don’t Make Assumptions – The human intellect offers us many advantages. Along with advantages, there are some very consequential drawbacks. Active minds are forever seeking something to mull over, searching for activity is the nature of the mind much as a dog will seek a bone/toy to chew on. Without concrete information, the brain masterfully spins a yarn. It weaves together loose fragments of data, i.e. sensory input, old memories (i.e. stored for what they actually were as well as mistaken through lost pieces of processing or retrieval) and knowledge gained through outside sources (i.e. learning). It is then beholden to confabulate some fantastic narrative. Triggers can awaken memories of long past events, particularly those laid down in haste (i.e. cases of insufficient metabolism of what occurred). We understand that PTSD is the brain’s erroneous retrieval of memories that were hastily stored (i.e. traumatically), resulting in memory retrieval at the suggestion of something even remotely related (i.e. being triggered), perhaps as the brain’s never-ending attempt to achieve resolution. To a lesser degree, we each are triggered by unresolved events of the past, (i.e. feeling rejected, abandoned, or judged as “not enough”). These emotional traps cause us to conjure up new scenarios representative of unresolved past events, in order to reframe them in the present. Our unwitting desire for resolution causes confusion and lends us to believe that whatever our mind is thinking is true. In truth, nothing could be further from the truth!! The mind is a vast compositor of misinformation.

Three – Don’t Take Anything Personally – What goes on around us is the result of many circumstances, past and present, seen and unseen, known and unknown. We engage in an act of arrogance when we assume that another’s actions or words (particularly as they affect us negatively) are specifically directed at us, i.e. by assuming words/actions of others are fully under their conscious control. A general life rule is people react outwardly according to how they perceive the world inwardly. In other words, people see the world as they are, not as it is. This suggests the onus for others’ actions lies upon their self-perceptions rather than on anyone or thing external to their self. When we believe what others say and do is attributable to our sense of being, this is akin to viewing the sun as orbiting the Earth. People make mistakes, all the time; get over it. The very fact that we all are prone to exercise judgment of others is evidence enough that we are all prone to error.

Four – Always Do Your Best – This agreement is subject to the greatest confusion. Unless our actions are undertaken with positive attitude and motivated by a pure heart, as we are rooted in present-moment awareness, they cannot be qualified as our best. Yet in truth, the effort of our sub-optimal actions may be “good enough” at times. Is it a reasonable expectation for anyone to always do his/her best?? We live in a cyber-paced world today, where multi-tasking is used to achieve simultaneous competing tasks. Brain studies show that brain circuitry does not favorably accommodate multi-tasking. The cerebral cortex can only be tasked with one assignment in any given moment so that each additional mission merely compromises its efficacy. In order to do our absolute best, we are required to dedicate ourselves fully to whatever is in front of us. In order to apply our selves in a task with an open heart, we must be free of negative attitudes, such as resentment, distrust, anger, and hurt. Being human makes us subject to a high degree of variability in our emotional state and unless we are in touch with our core truths, we are unlikely to know when we are being compromised. We owe it to ourselves to hold the light of self-compassion for our human frailty. Our limited ability for maintaining single-minded focus in application to any task is of constant challenge to us. Still, focus of our dedicated attention merits our sincere efforts.  So long as we bear this in mind, we are more apt to grant ourselves the compassion necessary for growth and evolving throughout our life. In the interim, we are only responsible for maintaining the best possible attitude and greatest degree of effort towards best possible outcome; albeit by doing our relative best at any given moment.

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