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EXPANSION, CONTRACTION AND INTEGRATION 

Growth occurs through a process of expanding, contracting and integrating.  Each of these phases is an equally important part of your healing journey.

 

EXPANSION

Expansion occurs when the total energy of a system grows or stretches (similar to a balloon being filled with air), or when the overall vibration of an energetic system increases (like tuning to a higher frequency).  After a healing session, many people are in an “expanded” state, either because trapped energy has been released, new energy has been taken in, or the overall vibration of their energy system has increased. 

 

The expanded state generally feels good, with positive sensations such as increased confidence, peace, clarity, lightness, calmness or joy. Your energy body is flowing more freely.  Expansion can occur on any and all levels of your system (i.e., emotional, mental, physical or spiritual). Your physical body may feel more relaxed or more energized. Your mind may feel quieter, sharper or clearer.  You may have a new understanding of a challenging situation or even feel the presence of divine grace.  Expansion is similar to breathing in, expanding your lungs and filling your body with much-needed oxygen.

CONTRACTION

Although the expanded state usually feels good, it’s an unfamiliar place.  Most people have learned to live in a contracted state, with their energy bodies closed off in many places, or with their bodies, emotions or thoughts held in contracted or rigid states. However pleasant the expanded state may feel, it’s natural for an energy system to want to return to the more familiar, contracted state.  Generally, if the expansion was intense (i.e., you had great epiphanies, experienced many physical or energetic shifts, had a big emotional release, or reached high levels of clarity or peace), then it’s likely the contraction will be intense, as well.

Contractions can be hard and quick, beginning within a few minutes of an expansion, or they may be more gradual, occurring slowly over days or weeks. Contractions can feel unpleasant and may be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as digestive issues, dizziness or fatigue.  Emotions can be stirred up, especially negative ones, such as confusion, defeat, depression, grief or anger. Having a contraction isn't bad, however. In fact, it's actually an indication that the healing process is deepening.

Energetic Defenses 

To get a better understanding of this process, we need to look briefly at the concept of energetic defenses (for a deeper exploration, please visit Understanding Defenses).

 

In your natural, undefended state, energy flows through your system in a balanced way.  As an infant and young child, your energy body was very open and sensitive.  You could feel your own life force coursing through you. Although this free flow of energy felt good, you were also very vulnerable and dependent upon others for your survival.  You had a lot of very real needs, and sometimes those needs weren't met. Sometimes, you had to face difficult experiences that your system wasn't mature enough to process in a healthy way. Sometimes, more energy was flowing through your system than you were capable of holding. The emotions were too strong, or the pain was too great.

 

You simply didn't have the capacity to understand or face what was happening, and so you had to find a way to lessen the flow. In order to avoid a catastrophic system overload, you closed off channels within your own body, likely where the pain was being experienced.  You "defended" against the free flow of energy through your system. The overall amount of energy flowing through your system was reduced or contained, and your system was able to regulate and withstand the challenging experience. 

The problem with defenses is that they work. In fact, they work so well, most of us use them often enough that they become habits.  Over time, the habitual way of containing or redirecting energy becomes so ingrained, some of the free-flowing energy starts to solidify into energetic structures (like fragments of ice forming in a river).  These energetic structures then create channels for energy to run through and continue to direct or contain the flow of energy in very specific ways.

 

At some point, the fact that we're making a choice against our own free flow of energy becomes unconscious, and the structures continue to block or redirect energy without us even noticing that they're there. When that happens, all of the difficult feelings associated with your challenging experiences, as well as some of the limiting choices you made in the moment, go into your subconscious.  Although you're no longer aware of these energetic structures and the history they contain, they continue to impact your physical health and limit what you're capable of experiencing. Because of the principle of resonance, they also work to attract experiences that match the emotional tone of the original challenging experience.

When Defenses are Challenged

Now, imagine a glass of clear water with a layer of silt or sand at the bottom of the glass. In this analogy, the water will represent your conscious mind (all the things you're aware of).  The silt or sand will represent all the negative intentions you have toward life, the feelings you've suppressed, etc. that are being held in your subconscious (all the things you don't remember, haven't fully processed, or aren't even aware of). On the surface, things may seem clear. This is because the water isn't moving, and so the silt remains at the bottom of the glass, hidden from sight.  

Now imagine that hidden within what seems like clear water, there are places where the water has frozen. In some places, the ice is so thick that it forces the water to flow through narrow, predictable channels or prevents it from flowing at all.  We don't see these frozen structures, however.  To us, it just looks like clear water. 

 

As long as nothing challenges it, the system seems to function just fine.  However, any experience (positive or negative) that increases the amount of energy running through the system will stir up the water, and potentially some of the "dirt" in the subconscious.  Then, everything gets muddied, and it feels difficult to make clear or empowered choices.  It's hard to see or think clearly. The danger of being overwhelmed feels quite real. 

 

If your energetic defenses are strong (i.e., if the ice structures hold against the increased flow), the burst of energy will be contracted, collapsed or displaced in the usual way.  Some of the water may be forced out of the glass and spill onto others, but most of the dirt will get pushed back down into the subconscious and disappear.  If, however, the challenge is strong enough, the force of the water moving through frozen channels will break off or melt some of the thinner fragments of ice.  Now, not only are the difficult experiences and feelings of the subconscious unable to be contained, but the energy that was trapped in the defense at the time of the historical trauma will also be present.  Not only is there a rush of difficult feelings or memories, but you're also less able to defend against feeling or remembering them.

  

Healing Work and the Contraction Phase

The process of expansion through energy work is similar to adding heat and slowly melting the defensive ice structures.  As some of the energy trapped in the structures is freed, it moves the water, and some of the silt may get stirred up.  The contraction is the part of the process where the old stuff has been stirred up, and you're given an opportunity to look at some of the material that's been trapped in your defenses or hidden in your subconscious.  

You can think of the contraction like an out-breath.  It's a releasing process that allows you to look at a lower vibration belief or feeling that you're holding onto (i.e., fear, anger, doubt) and potentially transform it. This usually feels challenging and can even feel like a regression or a movement in the wrong direction. It may feel like all the progress you made in the expansion is being reversed.  Healing occurs, however, anytime you're willing to feel what at some point in your history seemed "unfeelable."  As a young child, with an immature energetic system, you may not have been capable of processing such a surge of energy.  As an adult, you have far more resources and access to support. The challenge in a contraction actually lies in letting yourself feel the discomfort, without trying to push it down or make it go away.  The contraction phase of the healing process is where you get to reclaim your own trapped lifeforce.  It may feel icky, but that's only because this energy has been held frozen or relegated to the shadows of your subconscious for too long.  As you meet and hold these difficult feelings with compassion, they quickly transform (usually in a matter of hours or days).  

  

Despite the discomfort of the contraction, the contraction phase is a vital part of the healing process.  In the contraction, all the things that are preventing you from staying in the expanded state are revealed.  In fact, much of the clearing work takes place during the contraction. This is when you get to feel the disowned feelings as well as the discomfort of your habitually contracted energy system. Remember, these habits of restriction are oftentimes unconscious. The contraction brings these unconscious patterns into the light, like the silt being drawn up into the clear water to be looked at more closely and cleared.

Contractions can be challenging, but they're also great opportunities. Contractions offer you a chance to decide which of the limiting beliefs and situations you’re ready to let go of.  Rigid, contracted patterns in your energy field are the responses you made to defend against uncomfortable feelings or against difficult experiences.  Those patterns aren't bad or wrong, but their yours to change or not.  No one can hold your energy in a contracted state but you.  No one can choose to live in the expanded state but you.  What are you willing to change?  Are you willing to feel the uncomfortable feelings now?  Do you still wish to continue holding limiting beliefs about who you are? Are you willing to rest?  Is there a way you can "let yourself off the hook?"  Can you practice self-care as a priority?  These are all questions that a contraction can help you explore. The specific beliefs, feelings and relational patterns that are blocking you from holding the expanded state will be shown to you in the contraction. In this way, contractions offer contrast and thus choice.  During a contraction, your doubts, fears or negative emotions are being drawn out, and you're being given an opportunity to respond differently.  Rather than shutting your life force down, can you allow it to flow?  

Working with the Contraction Phase

If you’re ready to make different choices and hold more empowering beliefs, much can be released during the contraction. Like breathing out, your system is releasing waste material. This may be difficult or easy, depending upon your attachment to the old beliefs and patterns. 

You can make the most of your contraction by:

  • Feeling everything that arises, without judgement and without trying to make it be different or go away.  Try not to rush the process, even if it's uncomfortable. Your willingness to sit in the discomfort will free you.

  • Being a kind observer of yourself and the things that are triggered, as well as the habitual reactions that still hold sway over you.

  • Drawing, dancing, yelling, kicking, screaming, singing, or in some other way expressing what you're feeling and experiencing.

  • Journaling as a way to explore the connections to other times/situations and to help you gather all the wisdom of your history.  A good question to consider is, "When have I felt like this before?"

  • Meditating or journaling about the new intentions you'd like to hold for yourself going forward. 

INTEGRATION

Integration is the process through which your healing spreads to every part of your life. Integration occurs on every level of your field, because healing is always about wholeness and about connection.  As you navigate the contraction, you’re given the chance to make different choices.  During the integration phase, those different choices slowly rewire your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies.  As energy begins to flow through these new channels, you'll find that you react to situations differently.  In the coming days, weeks and months, your inner shifts will begin to be reflected in your physical body and in your outer world.  As your energy flows differently through the relational level of your energetic field, your relationships will also change.  Patterns of relating will evolve or dissolve.  

Most ingrained patterns need to go through the cycle of expansion, contraction and integration many times for the full potential of deep healing to be realized. Change can feel scary. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate this territory.  During both the contraction and integration phases, it’s helpful to support the body’s natural elimination and clearing processes by eating well, exercising in moderation, drinking lots of water and getting extra rest.  

Growth and healing are very natural processes.  The cycle of expanding, contracting and integrating repeats itself, like a spiral, where we revisit the same core beliefs, symptoms or issues. With each new turn, you'll find yourself slightly higher on the spiral. Perhaps you are viewing the same pattern, but it’s presented in a different form. You are different, too, and so you can see things differently. You can let go of a little more, or the way you’re accustomed to thinking about an issue no longer makes sense to you. Your relationships change. Your body changes, too. With each turn of the spiral, you become more whole and aware of all that you are.

 

For more tips on how to support yourself during a contraction, please see Care After a Healing Session.

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