Expansion and contraction
It’s often said that all of life is expansion and contraction. It’s there in how we breathe, a heartbeat, the change of seasons, the ebb and flow of the tide, day and night. The examples are within us and all around us. These seemingly opposing forces are necessary. They depend on each other.
I was struck by a chapter on this subject in Dr. Habib Sadeghi’s book, “Within”. Specifically, when he talked about how we humans tend to want to stay in a constant state of expansion. In many ways, we’ve been taught to feel this way. We want to feel great and constantly be moving forward. We fear contraction as something bad, or worse, something bad about us.
Dr. Sadeghi writes “We may think contraction stalls our life progress, but nothing could be further from the truth. The movement of life isn’t in either expansion or contraction, but in the momentum generated between the two as they constantly trade places in our lives.”
He uses the example of a caterpillar, how he uses the rhythm generated between the two states of expansion and contraction to propel himself forward and get him to where he wants to go. If he stayed in one state or the other he wouldn’t go anywhere.
This timely reading helped me move forward out of an extended contraction period that I recently experienced with my painting process. I became stuck. I forgot what I was doing, where I was going. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt, and the more I stayed stuck. But reading the passage in this book helped me see that I was getting more hung up on the thought of being in this place, instead of just accepting it and trying to glean something from it. What I learned is that I don’t have to show up and do great things in the studio every day. I just have to show up. Some days will be better than others, but all of them combined will get me closer to my where I want to go. If I just stopped and kept thinking about it, that’s where I would be... stopped.
“Every contraction in life is setting you up for another expansion, it has to. It’s the rhythm of life.”
—Dr. Habib Sadeghi