Contraction. From the Latin, con - trakere...to draw together.
I have been expending a lot of energy for some time now--okay years--in working to deepen my understanding of defendedness or the contraction of the heart. Why does it happen? 'Cause it seems to happen all the time...even when we are conscious and have strong intent...fear, the great contractor, is ever-present it seems. Through our conscious practice, we can intercede and remain open, we can choose to act, speak, risk, connect. But isn't it interesting that a word that means something as simple as to draw together, has such painful associations.
Here's just a few...
Of course, the one that is still pretty present in my mind...the contractions of labour...lots of pain--got to keep thinking about opening--and on the other side a new life is born into the world.
And then there's the contraction of the heart...that cold and painful feeling when the heart closes in on itself in the presence of fear. The feeling of smallness, of failure, of loss of self...when our courage doesn't match our intention. And if our courage is up to the test, there's the pain of stretching open the heart, of surrendering to the emergent moment. Drawing together is always a significant act of faith.
Ken Wilber describes the ego as the contraction of the Self. And i have experienced this so far, only when sitting with and exploring the nature of defendedness. Then i can feel the painful contraction, the drawing in, the shortening, the narrowing, of the expansive Self. The ego at these times feels like some little creature fluttering fearfully, heart pounding, subject to so many judgements, desires, and attachments.
Contraction--to draw together. Not so simple. And just that simple. When we talk about drawing together, when we form the intention to create intimacy, we will encounter contraction. And what can keep us moving forward, what can open the heart in the face of fear, is faith in the significance and the joy of what can be born on the other side of uncertainty.
If we want more intimacy, if we want more peace, if we want to truly know each other, then we have to practice jumping into space without a net--often. (Now you don't have to start out with a mountain cliff, mind you...the couch will do for a start...) (Certain readers of this blog will recognize this as a note to self...i have a habit of cliff jumping...problem with beginner's mind and all...)