Protect or Express: Our Choice

I’ve lived my life predominantly under a cloud of self-protection. In some darkness. Some hiding.

It’s a natural response to the world for some people. As kids, particularly sensitive children, we hold our breath or body to protect ourselves from the bombardment of stimuli from the world, including arguing parents or unexpected barking dogs, etc.

Constriction is not bad. Left unconscious, though, it can leave patterns of stress and pain in the body-mind.

I notice that shining the light of awareness on it through presence practices, it has been releasing its hold. And that is releasing me in to a new pattern, a new state of being. This process is unfamiliar, and disconcerting, and at times challenging – feeling a pull back and forth between constriction/protection and opening/expressing. The old pattern is doing what it was intended to do – protect me from the unfamiliar and potentially harmful.

But now I’m at a point of consciously choosing. And I choose the light of opening. I choose to let myself live in a state of openness, consciously using the constriction when I want or need to – as a means toward the ends of self-expression.

So I believe, as we practice awareness of what is, we have the opportunity to choose more consciously:

Do I experience this moment with constriction/protection? or

Do I experience this moment with open acceptance of what is – allowing myself to self-express accordingly?

The first leads to expression that is more defensive, based on fear from past experiences or worry about what might happen in the future, or based on our assumptions of what others think or feel.

The second leads to expression that is based on the current conditions, and leads to current-experience-appropriate responses.

At least that’s I’ve noticed as I practice presence in my life!

This is a much more self-responsible state of being and way of living in the world. Also something that can be challenging – as I in the past – and I notice many others – have “given up” power and choice to others, wanting others to make decisions for me; making others responsible for my life because of their choices and impact on me. That was a constrictive, protective way of being, ironically.

Now I choose to let the light of my self-expression guide my actions. And I am aware of that expression’s impact on others around me – so I adjust my expression for my best estimation of the greatest good (not wanting to harm myself or others).

PRACTICE: The next time you experience a strong emotion, ask yourself – is this based on what’s present, or my thinking about the past or future?