Can you feel it? The first breaths of fall creeping in at the edges of our beautiful (though hot) summer? I can. This used to throw me into a bit of a tizzy because winter can feel a bit long here in the Midwest. I used to dread the end of summer's big, expansive energy and feel cooped up, trapped almost, when winter arrived.Then caged as the winter progressed and the cold hibernation made me go inward into things I spent the rest of the year trying to avoid. Sometimes I still do dread the change, but as I grow, I'm beginning to be more comfortable with the rhythms of nature, even welcome them. Also, I've gotten more comfortable with the similar rhythms of life.
Did you know we breath in and out approximately 22,000 times per day?
In other words, just being alive requires us to expand and contract on a physical level all day every day. As noted above, nature follows a similar pattern with her seasons; she expands all spring and summer, then contracts through fall and winter. Perhaps it should not be surprising then, as a part of nature, that our lives also seem to regularly expand (we make big plans, take leaps, grow and connect and create) and contract (we feel tired, do less, desire quiet and space). Even still, sometimes it feels surprising, doesn't it?
For instance, you have a new project on the horizon, an idea maybe. And you're brimming with energy, making things happen, and feeling excited for what's to come. Then, suddenly you feel your energy level drop. You're less motivated than you were. You might wonder what the heck just happened. What does this mean? Did something go wrong? Did I fail? Did the Universe give up on me? The contraction, although normal, can feel sudden and discouraging.
Of course, there can be many reasons for a particular contraction, and those are worth exploring in a given situation. But it's also important to remember that contraction is a normal, and necessary part of being human. It does not necessarily indicate that something is wrong, only that perhaps a pause, a respite, a gathering of resources may be necessary.
Additionally, we live in a culture that values productivity over almost everything. "Not doing anything" is seen as lazy. "Just sitting there," is a definite no-no. As such, it's not surprising that we often feel a sense of disquiet, or even guilt or shame, when contraction arises. (Can we say problems of the patriarchy?)
As with many difficult feelings and situations, it can help to simply name them. We might take a moment and simply acknowledge: I am in a period of contraction (or insert whatever word feels best). Sometimes this feels uncomfortable for me. Then, we can affirm that, Even though I might feel resistance, I recognize the important of rest and allow myself to be in this space for as long as I need to be.
We ride the wave, and just as naturally as we contract, we expand again.