Mary O’Malley – Have you noticed how everything in life opens and closes, ebbs and flows? We can see this most clearly in the unfolding of the seasons. Everything closes in the cold of winter and opens in the warmth of summer.
Life opens too with the light of day and closes in the darkness of the night. We can also see it in the tides as they come and go and in the rhythm of your breath. Even your heart valves open and close and if this didn’t happen you wouldn’t be alive!
Where opening and closing is not so easily seen is inside of us. We open and close too. One day our mind is fairly calm, and we are more easily delighted by life. And then the next day we contract into some of the denser states of mind like anxiousness, restlessness, irritation, self-pity and sadness. One day our body is easy to live in and the next, it is not.
Peace comes when we see that closing doesn’t come because we have done something wrong or ‘they’ have done something wrong or we are being punished by life. It comes because it is a part of life and there is always something to learn from every closing, no matter how painful.
One of my favorite sections from a Rumi poem is:
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding! And yet what our minds want is to always be in the more open space and get rid of all those pesky contractions. But as long as you are alive, your mind, your body and your feelings will open and close. And you, like most of us, have not been taught how to stay open when the contractions come.
Also, when you know more of the openness of your true nature, it can be very disconcerting to go back into the tightness of your conditioned reactions. Oftentimes the mind will start to flail and judge, believing that something is wrong.
What would happen if you could trust your contractions – that you come to know that contractions are a part of life and are an invitation to see something more clearly? For that is how we discover the art of unhooking from our compulsion to struggle – not by getting rid of it or rising above it or even understanding it. We become bigger by getting to know it.
Yes, it is hard to trust life when it shows up as a contraction inside of you, but it is also startling to realize that you do trust life. You trust the flow of day and night, the seasons and even your heart valve. What I am offering here is that it is also possible to trust the difficult times – not only trust them but gather the treasures that are always there. Or as Rumi is saying, the openings and closings of life are as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.
Still, when you lose sight of the spaciousness of your heart, which has room for everything, it can be very scary, and you can even feel a sense of loss when spaciousness turns into contraction again. But as you learn how to trust contraction whether it’s in your relationships, your finances, your compulsions, your health or even rush-hour traffic; and you discover how to relax a bit and have at least a moment or two of being curious about what is happening inside of you, you will slowly and surely discover how to stay present for your life, deeply trusting the flow, no matter what it brings.
Life is not always likable, but it is trustable!
SF Source Mary O’Malley May 2019