Life is funny sometimes. With every contraction and expansion, it really is all about the surrender.

I’ve found myself saying this in almost every client session and conversation with friends and peers lately. I’m constantly on the look out for patterns and topics that keep coming up in our collective, and after saying this for maybe the 100th time in a few weeks, I decided to dive deep into what exactly this contraction and expansion pattern is, and how it applies to what you need to know now.

I find this contraction/expansion dynamic shows up most often this way: Just when you think you are rocking and rolling and things are going great, life likes to come along and throw curve-balls, stop you in your tracks, slow things down and remind you of what really matters.

You know those times:

You get a big promotion at work and on your way home, get in a car accident.

Your business hits an all time high, and then you get sick or a bad diagnosis.

You’ve been feeling for ages it’s time for a big change to step into your Calling and ‘all of a sudden’ you get fired.

These events – essentially contractions – stop you from expanding any further. And often, make you rethink if you deserve that ‘great thing’ in the first place.

Back in the day, I used to take these seemingly random emergencies, illnesses, and the like as just that – random. Or in more extreme cases, as signs from above that I was bad. Not enough. That I’d messed up or everything in my life was wrong, and I had to fix it. NOW. In some circles, I hear these random acts of contraction being referred to as “Upper Limiting” {from an amazing book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks}: when you reach an expansive edge or ceiling in your life, career, or relationship and somehow sub-consciously hold yourself back from expanding any further or truly enjoying the ride.

While I love the concept, the danger I find in calling it Upper Limiting is that when we are expanding and hit an edge or ceiling, there is a tendency to then push, pull, heave ourselves into it to bust through it. I see it in the entrepreneur communities and many corporate settings all the time.

I must be at my ceiling because something bad happened- ‘life was funny that way’- and so I must work my ass off to get past this ‘block’ between me and my future awesomeness.

Sound familiar? We all do it, especially those in the self-development arena. Guilty as charged!

In my latest exploration here, I realized something: Quite frankly, it gets really fucking exhausting to constantly be trying to bust through our ceilings and blocks. In this ever increasing momentum to be more, get higher, have more success, I see so many burning out or worse in trying so hard to bust through these Upper Limits. I’ve been there myself, more times than I’d like to admit.

With the aid all of my years of deep studies in yoga, anatomy, esoteric theory and the priestess arts, I’ve come to a new conclusion:

THIS SENSE OF HAVING TO CONSTANTLY BUST THROUGH YOUR BLOCKS TO CONTINUOUSLY EXPAND IS REALLY JUST ANOTHER WAY OF FORCING YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR FLOW AND OFF OF THE PATH THAT IS YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL DIVINE HEROINE’S ODYSSEY.

Instead, what I’ve landed on (softly, gently) is that at the end of the day, everything in our universe, even the ocean and trees,  is constantly in a state of contraction and expansion. It’s a dance. A flow. In each moment, you are either in one of these two states or in a space in between. The more you can recognize which state you are naturally in, the more you can surrender to what is happening and allow it to work it’s magic – instead of forcing it to be something else.

WHEN WE FORCE OUR RHYTHM TO BE SOMETHING IT IS NOT IN THE MOMENT, WE HURT – OUR BODIES. OUR SOULS. OUR LOVED ONES. OUR TRIBES. OUR PLANET.{CLICK TO TWEET}

Here are the basics: In every moment you are breathing. You inhale, your lungs expand. You exhale, your lungs contract. There are pauses between these actions that are necessary and part of the flow as well – the space in between.

GO AHEAD, TRY IT: DEEP INHALE {FEEL THE EXPANSION}. HOLD {FEEL THE SPACE IN BETWEEN}. EXHALE COMPLETELY {FEEL THE CONTRACTION}. HOLD {FEEL THE SPACE IN BETWEEN}. REPEAT.

It’s basic anatomy. Every living creature, every cell and atom experience their own version of contraction and expansion. In yoga, the energy behind it is called prana – the life-giving force. Prana at it’s core is simply this flow – in varying speeds and rhythms depending on where you are in your life and the circumstances you are in.

What is important for you to remember is that each part of that life-giving flow is essential to the process. You can not have life without each part of the process. It simply can not exist.

THE CONTRACTION IS JUST AS ESSENTIAL AS THE EXPANSION.

In every moment too, it is not just your lungs that are breathing – your entire body and presence is breathing. Your soul is breathing, your relationships are breathing, and yes, even your business or job is breathing.

Expansion= The times of growth, learning, going past your edge, testing your boundaries, releasing new ideas and offerings to the world. Making more money, growing your family, acquiring more things, being more ‘out’ in the world.

Contraction= Those times where you need to pull back, slow down, recover, take two steps back or maybe even change course entirely. End relationships, stop producing, go hide on an island for a while or simply be in the energy of destruction.

The Spaces in Between= This is where the real magic happens- it’s the time of Empty Presence, where you can hear your soul speak and not have to be doing anything- this is the space of pure being. It’s also the most difficult to master being comfortable in. 

Now, in reading that, what felt like the one you desire the most? For most of us, there is a deep desire to be in the expansion state ALL the time- more more more, grow grow grow. Keep going, keep expanding.

DOES THAT SOUND SUSTAINABLE? DOES THAT HONOR THE NATURAL PROCESS OF LIFE-GIVING FORCE?

The key is to be able to identify in every moment – is this a contraction, an expansion, or a space in between? Where am I in my flow? What, if anything, do I need to surrender to in this instance?

Am I being asked to take action, or wait? To do, or to be? To end something, or begin? To hide in the cave or to step out into the light? Or just learn to be comfortable in the discomfort?

Because the real power in your life for change and growth comes not from forcing yourself OUT of one state to get to another. And real power definitely does not come from trying to be in a state of expansion all the time- it’s practically impossible and you would metaphorically explode if you did (and unfortunately, many people eventually do).

No, the real power comes from:

1. Identifying exactly where you are, with no judgement that it’s good or bad, and using your position in that state as the fuel to determine your next step.

2. Learning to use the spaces in between as the magic making stage where anything is possible, anything can be ‘figured out’ and anything can be created. The space in between is where you find the answers, ask the questions and surrender to guidance on your next steps.

3. Having the courage to take action on the guidance you hear, trusting it’s what you need, even if it logically does not make sense.

Once you get a hang of this and learn to ride the rhythm by surrendering to it fully, a magical thing happens:

YOU CAN BEGIN TO CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE THE CONTRACTION THAT’S NEEDED – INSTEAD OF A RANDOM ACT OF CONTRACTION CHOOSING YOU TO GET YOUR ATTENTION.

Often this comes in the form of releasing things you need to let go of that no longer serve. You might not like the answer you know you must choose, but you learn to trust it when it comes.

And on the flip side, when you open yourself to the expansion and surrender to it fully, the sky really is the limit.

Most importantly, you learn this valuable lesson: it’s in the spaces in between that we open, listen and learn what’s next. It’s the spaces in between that we see that the expansion is possible and isn’t as scary as we thought. We see that the contractions can feel good, necessary, fun even.

AND IT’S IN THESE SPACES IN BETWEEN THAT WE LEARN HOW TO TRULY LIVE.

ONCE YOU ARE ABLE TO MASTER THIS, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO LIVE AN UNBRIDLED LIFE- TRUSTING YOUR PATH AND SURRENDERING TO EACH STEP YOU TAKE ALONG IT, EACH LEADING YOU TO YOUR DESTINY.

I invite you to take a deep look at your own patterns and identify what phase you are currently in, and what actions you need to take to honor your flow.

To help you with the exercise, I’m going to give you a real quick ‘behind the scenes’ look at a critical stage of my own path to show you how I’ve used this:

Back in late 2012, it became clear to me that I was no longer meant to be offering in-person bodywork as my primary service. I was exhausted, tired, ruined my relationship (thank goodness he took me back eventually) and overall just needed a break. One day, I realized that I was in a contraction phase in my life, but behaving as if I was in expansion- bringing on more clients, producing content, pushing my man to take the next steps. And my body felt broken. I was about to explode by forcing myself to expand, when really, I needed to contract. After several months of this

I SURRENDERED.

I stopped forcing and allowed the contraction.  I announced that I was closing my doors, stopped taking new clients, released the new website announcing that I had new services starting in December. I scheduled the sabbatical for in between. I sat in the contraction for a few months. I didn’t stop working, but I didn’t try to expand either. I just lived in that state. Eventually, I felt a release happen at the beginning of November- my sabbatical month. I was ready to come out of the state of contraction, and move into expansion. And I had a whole month planned to just BE in a space in between. To sit and listen to the answers and divine guidance of how to move forward next. And that’s exactly what I did: for 2 more months, while I brought in a few clients, I waited for what my next step would be. Then, the inspiration for the Celebrating Abundance program came through, and so much more that you all haven’t even seen yet that I’m cooking up behind the scenes.

I COULD HAVE FREAKED OUT. I COULD HAVE ‘LOST IT ALL’ OR KEPT FORCING IT UNTIL I GOT SICK. BUT INSTEAD, I READ MY BODY AND GAVE MY SOUL WHAT SHE NEEDED- A TIME TO CONTRACT IN ORDER TO EXPAND. AND A HEALTHY SPACE IN BETWEEN.

I’ll be honest, this past month has also felt like a ‘space in between’ stage in The Unbridled Life. I’ve been expanding greatly in a lot of areas of my life– my relationship, my community, my business, my offerings. It’s been so amazing, and has really shown me what my edges are and when to play with them and when to step back. With all of this expansion, I needed to spend the last month in Empty Presence, to give the expansion a break and listen to what my soul needed for me to do next.

It’s clear that there is more expansion ready to take place, and this time, I want to do it honoring this rhythm and contract where I need to contract in order to make it happen smoothly and gracefully.