We live our lives in periods of contraction and expansion, one always follows the other, even when we are unaware of the process. If we wish to grow with purpose rather than simply superficially, we must first go within (contract) to pause and listen to that inner voice granting us the wisdom and the awareness, which is then ignited with a spark of creativity to propel the next phase (expansion).
This process sounds simple but there are many obstacles, real and imagined, from external sources and of our own machinations which lie in wait to keep us stuck and from achieving that next level of personal development. The greatest of which is our own thoughts, association within our projected psyche and especially the stories we tell ourselves and the misguided sharing of said beliefs adding further fuel to the fire.
Repeated thoughts and stories are almost always fuelled by an unacknowledged feeling or emotion underneath.
Repeated physical pains or difficult moods are also often associated with accompanying stories or beliefs, through extended awareness we can begin to acknowledge these and then, usually with another’s help, dig a little deeper and look beyond the effect in search of the root cause.
Failure to lean in, to this place of discomfort, pain, or repressed trauma leads to us perpetuating those unrealised feelings. This lack of awareness of these unrealised feelings allows for the continuation of those familiar harmful thought processes and those destructive narratives we all have buried deep inside.
By learning to drop below the repeated recorded messages to access and feel the trapped energy that fosters it, gives us both the courage to go further within and the sure footing upon which to uncover the hidden truths. Both real and imagined.
Coming to terms with the feeling results in a decrease in the repetitive cycle of negative thoughts thereby diminishing the stranglehold of the pattern and liberating you from this attachment and associated suffering.
In Buddhist psychology bringing consciousness to feelings is critical to awakening. Our feelings if unrecognised, understood, or acknowledged can cause us to become entangled. Either grasping (pleasant feelings) or avoiding (unpleasant feelings) increases our suffering and results in us getting caught up and stuck. However, the goal is not to become free from the feelings rather to be free to allow each one to flow through us without the typical attraction or aversion and thereby escaping the desires and/or fear which keep us locked into the harmful repetitive behaviours.
Picture yourself sitting beside a fast-flowing river, appreciate the momentary calm then bring your attention to the myriad of objects (thoughts) which stream by you and rather than recoiling in shame and/or running at the very sight or conversely diving in after every one that appeals and being swept away, simply focus your attention on noticing and naming and if experienced enough tracking back upstream towards that true source, before then simply letting go.
Resistance is another trap – known by many names such as aversion, fear, or judgement each of which can lock us into another cycle of suffering. Acceptance and compassion are the keys to alleviating this. Ask yourself what is it that seeks my attention and can I touch it with loving awareness (mindfulness in action) to thereby transmute it and then release it.
Open to the thoughts, behaviours, and actions you associate with this, being mindful that you are not adding anything else on top. Once again be bold to look ever deeper, for what we first perceive is not always what we truly resist (or attract). Accept it and accept you with self-compassion and again allow the feelings/doubts/recriminations to be informative and then to recede.
Now expand your attention. Move from the mind into the body.
Patterns of holding in the body are expressed through aches, pains, agitations, and irritations. Otherwise known as trapped knots of energy – typically a mixture of emotions, memories, and traumatic experiences causing the bodily contractions. Through heightened awareness, we can focus on releasing our identification with it (contraction) and thus liberate ourselves (expansion).
Awareness of the body practice:
Begin by taking three conscious breaths in and out to focus on the present and focus your attention. Then start by scanning your body from the bottom to the top, paying attention to what you feel and where. Highlight the area in the body then utilise the physical elements within it:
Earth (hardness or softness),
Air (stillness or patterns of vibration),
Water (cohesiveness or fluidity).
Next sense the emotions associated with each e.g., fear, pain, sadness, longing, hunger, etc., and then name them accordingly.
Next what images arise?
(Often back to inner child experiences/deeper healing work/repressed shadow side)
NB: belief + associated feelings + identification = contraction
Look deeper. Remembering. Acceptance. Allowing. Unattachment. Liberation. Harmony.
Only when we follow the thread to its root cause, rather than being fooled by a primary effect positioned there to divert our attention, as is often the case and why the cycle persists even when we feel it is healed, can we recognise the contraction for the necessary life lesson we require to expedite our own evolution.
This is simply one avenue we can embark upon together in the exploration of hidden truths and assumptions and to the higher goal of excavating our truSELF and reuniting with our soul purpose in this lifetime.
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