Expansion, Contraction, and Rest are the three movements experienced by all of creation. Nature shows us Her expansions, contractions, and rests with the regeneration of trees, the movement of a wave, and the four seasons. Similar to Mother Earth, we experience these same movements with our breathing, our day to day life, interpersonal relationships, and our creativity. I first learned about Expansion, Contraction, Rest while studying Full Permission Living.
"Expansion in its harmonious form is expressed as creativity,
growth, a building force, forward movement, outgoingness, generosity,
searching for union with that which appears outside of the self, with
the "Other". In its negative expression, expansion
manifests as aggression, hostility, destructiveness, cruelty,
impatience, often leading to quarreling, ultimately in some cases, war.
Contraction in its positive form is assimilation, balance,
introspection, inward movement, caution, patience, thoughtfulness, a
self-searching, reflective, integrating force. In the negative,
contraction manifests as a regressive, backward movement, resistance to
progress, selfishness, egocentricity, avarice, separateness.
Rest in its positive aspect is healthy passivity, preservation,
gestation, a state of beingness, timelessness, a gathering of momentum
before a new growth cycle. Rest is necessary for fruition to take place.
In the negative, rest will appear as stagnation, lifelessness, inertia,
Each processes has its importance and is intended to be experienced without judgement. It's easy to have a positive relationship with an Expansion, "This has been such a great day! I got so much work done and I enjoyed spending time with friends". And it's easy to have a negative relationship with a Contraction or Rest, "Wow this was a horrible day. Work was tough, and I got into a fight with my husband" (Contraction); "I'm so lazy! I got none of the housework done"(Rest). But, without placing a positive or negative judgement on an experence we can connect with the process we are going through in the Now and enjoy the benefits!
The author Eknath Easwaran uses Expansion, Contraction, Rest when he explains the Eastern concept of Gunas, the very fabric of existence:
"[An] individual will have times when he is bursting with energy and times when inertia descends and paralyzes his will, times when he is thoughtful and other times when he is moving so fast that he never notices those around him. This person is the same; he is simply experiencing the play of the gunas."
We are made up of energy. We expand our energy, contract our energy, and harness our energy as we experience life; it is who we are. Each experience of our energy without judgement is for our highest good and greatest growth. Expansions aid in outward movement and expression, helping us to connect with others and collaborate ideas. Contractions allow us to ground ourselves by looking inward to understand our inner conflicts so that we can surface and free ourselves from their confines. Rest allows us to conserve our energy so that we remain centered, aware, and compassionate during our next expansion. It's all for us. It all IS us.
Since this is a blog about our expression and creativity, I'll conclude with applying Expansion, Contraction, and Rest to this very natural part of our existence. Expansion is the easy one. It's when we feel right at home in the element of creation. The moments where our vessels are open and the creative expression feels like it is flowing through us. Wouldn't it be great to be there all the time?! Not really. We have to reset. As artists we are continually deepening our relationship with our body, mind, and spirit. Expansion is only an outward movement of energy. Contraction and Rest are our inner movements of energy. It is during those periods of time where we can deepen our relationship with ourselves. Contractions allow us to see what blocks still exist within our physical and emotional being, and it gives us the time to surface them and work through them. Where there is a road block there is a traffic jam. Rest allows us to let go of creative expectations and tap into what we have to access in the Now. It's also a time to plant our seeds of manifestation so that our garden will flourish during our next Expansion and we can share the fruits of our labor.
Expansion, Contraction, Rest. Which are you in Now?