Contraction is as Important as Expansion

Letters from Alay’nya

“Contraction is as Important as Expansion”

December, 2003

Dear Ones –

Recently, I was home alone with one of those “seasonal” flu-colds. You know – the sort where a person feels all sorts of vague symptoms, coupled with fatigue. The kind of illness where all a person wants to do is crawl under the bedclothes and just stay there.

But like most of us highly-driven professional women, I felt guilty about just “staying at home” for a day. There was so much that just had to get done!

Feeling thoroughly miserable, I called my friend Kathy. She too was recovering from a wintertime illness. And as usual, she had some perceptive wisdom to offer.

“Times of contraction are as important as times of expansion,” she said. She went on to say,” When we are feeling energetic and involved, we feel that everything is ‘right’ and ‘good.’ We like those times. But those times when we need to contract, or withdraw into ourselves – for any reason – are just as important.

I thought about the wisdom of what Kathy had said. So often, in an effort to feel good, we push ourselves unduly. Even when the time of year dictates that we should withdraw, curl up a little bit more, and even allow ourselves to sleep a little bit longer, we push ourselves to do more than at any other time of the year. We ask ourselves to contact almost everyone whom we’ve not contacted in a year or more. We ask ourselves to buy and put up decorations, to make special recipes, to buy and wrap and mail gifts, to go to parties, and to travel – often under threat of blizzard conditions!

And all our bodies and psyches – so much wiser than our rational minds – really want to do is curl up and sleep. No big wonder that this is a time of year that we come down with a little something!

Winter is a time for going inward; for touching our inner wisdom. We can only do that when we are quiet, and we give ourselves sufficient time for the inward attention. Note that I’m not saying “focus,” but “attention.” In winter, we are more prone to enter a more diffuse dream-like state of reverie; the kind that comes about as we watch a fire for hours.

This year, if you feel that your inner being is calling you to do so, consider easing back on your commitments as much as possible. Allow yourself to go “inwards.” Relish the experience of contraction, as an opportunity to connect with your inner wisdom. And be gentle in your expectations of yourself. While this is a great time for journaling, and very soft-focused “inner gazing,” don’t pressure yourself to come up with life-plans, or New Year’s resolutions. Any changes that you need to make will emerge at the right time, and carry their own impetus – they will not need to be forced, or even listed.

If you are feeling called to inner experience, and can’t yield right now, then make a promise to yourself to take “inner time” as soon as you realistically can. Perhaps going someplace where you can be quiet for a few days later in the season will help, or even a spiritual retreat. If you can, do some journaling.

And however it is that a period of quiet manifests for you, remember: Contraction is as important as expansion.

All my best – and best wishes for the Season – A.