Slice of Sunshine: Expansion and Contraction

I like big growth and I cannot lie.

I cherish it in nature: the first blooms pushing through the spring soil; new sprouts on my houseplants as they unfold into tender leaves; watching my puppy turn into a 72-pound hunk of dopey love. 

I celebrate it in humans: seeing friends (and clients) moving from indecision into action, stepping into their more authentic self, or weathering troubled times and emerging even more resilient.

My innate “Go-go-go” attitude easily converts to “Grow-grow-grow!” Channeling, supporting and nurturing expansion is, well, life-giving.

And then there’s opposite of expansion: contraction.

Shrinking back, drawing in, going dark, or—the ultimate contraction—ceasing to exist.

Meh. Who wants to contract? Boring, wasteful, depressing.

Not my jam.

Or so I thought.

I have recently had a change of heart. One could even say I have had some expansion around contraction.

Recently tilled field with blue skies and fluffy clouds, mountains in the background.
What will grow in this field?

It turns out to be critical to honor periods of contraction as much as those of expansion.

In nature, pulling back conserves and replenishes resources; things are happening in the soil to allow the sprouts to push through.

In humans, turning inward allows lessons to settle, and pain to be transmuted into wisdom; these unseen shifts prepare an individual for their next phase of growth. 

Contraction has its own arc and energy; though not as palpable as expansion, it is life-giving in a different way.

Expansion and contraction. Sometimes we must let the land lay fallow.

Try it!

Contraction as a Practice

Though I feel like a semi-pro at expansion, I am actively learning about how to embrace contraction. Here are some of the things I am practicing:

  • Trusting that stillness doesn’t mean nothing is happening
  • Allowing time for pauses
  • Believing enough can be enough, more isn’t always more
  • Remembering that enough for now doesn’t necessarily mean its enough forever
  • Movement or action for the sake of movement or action is often a waste of energy
  • Contraction in one area may create space for expansion in another
(other) Smart People

“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.

If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding.

The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.” – Rumi


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Try it!