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Journal Crafting & Expansion

Journal Crafting complimented our Dancemeditation work at the recent Summer Movement Monastery…I think of Kate (Temple-West, herbalist extraordinaire and Dancemeditator), who conducted our session that evening, as I continue on with the wildly unfolding journey with my journal. I have gotten quite elaborate in the pages now, as well as taken to adding pockets where needed. (They are always needed, for interesting articles, or notes & phrases jotted on loose scraps of paper.) Also I’ve gotten into ornamenting re-cycled tea tins and Burt’s Bees salve tins that can be used for…what? Something dry. More tea perhaps, or pens, or cotton balls. If I was an herbalist, dried herbs. Maybe I can coil up my veils and each one can have its own tea tin perfumed with slivers of fragrant sandalwood….Dreamy.

This happiness points to the subject of Contraction and Expansion. I talk about this often in longer retreats as it is fundamental spiritual process of Dancemeditation. Contraction and Expansion have their roots in Sufism and refer to an oscillation of efforts and energetic states. The Contraction period is where we apply undivided attention to the practice we are engaged in (in Dancemeditation this might include Slow Movement, Breath Dances, and other movement mantras) and pursue a deepening inner-ness. This a process is common to many meditation traditions; in Dancemeditation, we actively fold in embodiment. These Contraction efforts draw us away from habituated patterning and tend to result in a sense of detachment from known signposts of identity and self-ness. This initial detachment might be uncomfortable; perhaps the body feels overly tight-skinned, overly electrified; emotions can be edgy and raw; or one might feel listless, awash, scattered, to name a few of the temporary states. Contraction must be tolerated, however, in order to arrive at a fresh perspective and to heal.

The Expansion that will inevitably follow at some point, if not right away, is a period of clarity, renewal, and creativity. It is generally characterized by a sense of well-being, heightened energy, abundant creativity, and freedom from emotional reactivity or at least freedom from feeling snared in a reactivity.

Expansion. I am in that phase.

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    1. As so often happens, Dunya’s words seem spoken just for me. I am surprised again after all these years… How does she do that?

      I am in a period of contraction now in my life, feeling squeezed from all sides. Reading this post (Dunya’s blog post on ‘Journal Crafting & Expansion’ gave me some space inside and I was able to take a deep breath and find some peace in remembering… hey, I’ve been here before and I remember it and I also remember how good the expansion feels. So I need to just be with my discomfort for a little while. I long for the expansion phase, but I will wait for it.

      Journal Crafting… You’ve been encouraging me to write for how many years now, Dunya, and it is only now, the past few weeks with my new blog, that I have begun to keep something like a journal. I have so many half or quarter filled journal notebooks, from retreats or trips when I had planned to keep a journal . Two of them were gifts from you at different times. There was some kind of block about journaling for me… some kind of baggage left over… from brothers or friends finding and reading my diary and shouting out secrets they read for all the world to hear… I don’t have secrets any more – so I don’t fear being shamed for anything I might write. Being a cancer survivor helps with that. All to say, this blog posting feels like a type of journal crafting to me…. I aspire to having a real, physical journal that I make or at least decorate myself and with pockets!

      July 9, 2008

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