As someone who works with and talks about birth on the daily, I get to use this word contraction more than most. Labor contractions are no doubt intense and my clients definitely question their mysterious nature and the ability to cope with them.
As a yogi, I can feel this energy of contraction in my body through powerful breathing techniques and shapes.
Ask yourself whether you are expanding or contracting in your life right now. Look at your career, your relationships, your energy levels, and your emotional state. The thing with contraction- no matter how low and dark you feel, and no matter how long it lasts, is that it is always followed by expansion.
Let’s trace it back all the way to your conception.
It started with an orgasm, which is a series of rapid muscle contractions. Very short lived.
Once you implanted, your mother’s uterus expanded more and more and more. For 9 whole months.
When that expansion completed, it became time for labor contractions. These can last for hours or days.
Once those ended, expansion again. A new life. A family multiplies.
Nurturing a newborn. Keeping them warm, holding them close, nourishing him with your body. Contraction again.
The newborn grows into a toddler, a child, a teenager, an adult. Expansion for quite some years.
Life happens. Eventually we die. Contraction.
So, as we take a step back and see the greater picture of our lives- we might also start to realize that these rhythms are occurring on a smaller scale as well. It’s only natural to have moments in your life to both expand and contract. Observe nature- plants do not bloom all year long. Yet, I find we consistently seek expansion and fear contraction. We say yes to life and no to death. But the truth is, there is no life without death. We can’t have it all, live forever, and never let go. This is a good thing.
When I hold space at a birth for new life to be born, I’m also holding space for death whether the parents know it or not. Death of who they were before this baby, the ending of pregnancy, closure of their previous lifestyle.
When I hold space in a yoga class for people to expand themselves physically, energetically, and emotionally, I’m also holding space for them to release old patterns and habits. They let die their slightly less aware selves, as they step into a heightened awareness.
Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty contracted and have been wanting to spend most of my time alone and turned inward. When I start to get caught up in my head about how terrible this all feels, I try to observe my breath as a reminder that the deepest contraction is always followed by the most full expansion. I’m trusting in the rhythm of life~