Dunking and bleaching
2017 was a big high for me. I got sober. I started long distance running. I started taking French (again). I took control of my health and felt the best I have since my health declined when I was 27. My work was fulfilling. I realized a huge dream of mine and set out on a journey through SE Asia. I fell in love and got to travel with my partner (another dream). It was a lot of expansion. There were heartbreaks and let downs inside of that but mostly it was just a year of hell yes. The start of 2018 continued that trend. I was still madly in love and still traveling. I was high up in the clouds as I expanded from the experience. And then I came home.
The opposite of of expansion is contraction. It’s normal. One can only expand for so long until contraction starts to take over. When a roller coaster is climbing up the hill it hit the peak and then race through the low. It’s natural. It’s also a strange sensation. I am happy to be home. I’m happy to be able to see my family and reconnect with my community. I love having one place I’m sleeping every night where I know the sheets are clean and there isn’t mold on all the pillows (I’m looking at you Mumbai). I love having access to all the health amenities I need and being able to eat the way that feels best for me. I love having all my clothes again and not living out of a backpack. I do find gratitude for all these things. But, I still feel like I’m in a low after the big high that was my last year.
Being in a low/contraction can feel overwhelming because everything feels less…shiny. Winter has been harder for me this year too. I think a full year of summer and the sun not setting until 8/9pm, it feels very confronting to have the days be so short all of a sudden. I’ve always welcomed winter and loved it’s natural slow pace and push into cozier indoor activities and this year I still like it but, I understand SAD more than I did in the past. When I catch myself feeling particularly low and missing my travels something fierce, I’m allowing the feelings to come up. I pull out my travel journals and read and remember and cry. Mostly the tears are of utter gratitude because I still can’t believe I got to do my trip. The tears are also partly a deep longing to be in that free state on the back of a motorbike again, hair whipping around me as I speed around Hanoi or wandering the streets of Varkala or jumping in the clean waters of Australia.
I’m learning two things from this period of contraction; 1. to allow my feelings to come up, experience them fully and let them pass (they always do) without a lot of attachment to them 2. I learn just as much from a contraction/low as my expansion/highs and they are equally important.
Learning to not attach to my emotions has been a huge lesson for me. I am an emotional authority in Human Design which means my emotions run deep and big. When I was younger I attached greatly to every peak and crash of my emotions and was taken for a ride every time. I felt like a mess. My attachment to the emotion meant I didn’t take the seat of the observer and just observe what was coming up. I was either judging, suppressing, trying to control and then exploding emotion everywhere. It was exhausting and made me pretty volatile. Doing a lot of self work help me detach but, it was really learning more about having an emotional authority that allowed me to finally take the observer seat so I could notice my emotions and allow them to run their natural course. This period of a low/contraction has been great practice of observing my emotions. I’m not judging myself when I feel down/sad/like I want to crawl into bed. I allow myself to feel without controlling the experience and it means I’m usually “in it” for a day at the most and then that emotion passes and I’m back to grounded. When I need to, I reach out to my community and share, cry, laugh, whatever it is I need to let out. My new approach has given a deeper meaning to this time and made it really beautiful in it’s own way.
Which leads me to that low/contraction periods are equally important as high/expansion periods and the low/contraction are how we get prepared for our next expansion. A story my teacher in Yoga teacher training told me really explains this well. He told this story was about the journey of enlightenment but, I still feel like it fits. The story goes that in India the way they dye their cloth is by taking the cloth and dunking it in a huge vat of dye. They let it soak in there for awhile and then the take it out and hang out in the sun to dry. The sun in India is HOT and the cloth bakes in it until the dye is barely visible. In fact, the first round, the cloth gets totally bleached by the sun again. After the bleaching, they take the cloth and dunk back in the dye. After the dye, they bleach it. And the process repeats until the cloth and the dye are so apart of each other, the sun can’t bleach it out anymore. Each aspect of that process is important- the dunks and the bleaching. Both lend its power to making the dye and cloth become one. The dunking experiences (expansion/highs) usually feel better because one is immersed in an experience and stimulated in a whole new way. The bleachings (low/contraction) are typically more uncomfortable because it feels like one might lose everything they just gained through the dunk. The being hung out to dry feels less exciting and maybe even too familiar- i.e being back home for me. However, the process of both- the dunking, getting bleached means that the growth, the lessons, the journey will start to become so a part of every fiber of our beings that it becomes us and there is no separation.
And so, that’s where I’m at with all this. I’m in a low, I’m hanging out in the sun (metaphorically because it’s chilly AF in NYC) and I do worry at times that I’m losing all I learned to the process. But, I remember what I know and the story of how the cloth gets dyed in India. I know that my bleaching is what will prepare for another dunks and dunks are always there and available to me. I will dunk again! And I will get bleached again. Actually, this is really important to note for myself and for anyone else going through this. Dunks are always available and we will get another one. We do not have to fear that we won’t experience big experiences again. We will— if we choose it! The process will continue! I will choose to always be slightly uncomfortable through the process and observe what comes up for me.
I would love to know when was your last dunk? And how did the bleaching go for you?