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How to Relieve Constriction (or Dukkha)

Hello beautiful souls,

Welcome back to the Modern Manifestation blog!

Today’s topic is all about constriction, or dukkha, and how it shows up in our lives. This topic was inspired by my weekly yoga instructor a couple weeks ago and it has helped me shift my mindset ever since. Scroll to the bottom to listen in instead of reading.

What is Dukkha?

A few Sundays ago, my instructor brought a new message for us to consider while we practiced yoga, the idea of dukkha (or duhkha). Dukkha is synonymous with pain, suffering, resistance, tensing, constriction, unease, etc. This concept can be found in many religions and philosophies such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, to name a few…

As our instructor talked about dukkha, he asked that we explore and experience where this pain and suffering shows up in our movement and when it dissipates; How we coil when we inhale, and release when we exhale; To play with this idea of restriction and release throughout our work—noticing when we wanted to let go and find comfort and what happens when we resist this desire to rest and instead suffer for another moment longer…

I’m not going to lie to you, it sucked. I became aware of how uncomfortable I was with discomfort. When the pose got too hard, I would cave. Ouch. How is that for a life metaphor?

Our daily practice that morning continued to focus on playing with the opposite ends of the comfort scale and the space between expansion and contraction. I continued to notice the constrictive energy in positions that were really hard, feeling the discomfort, fighting the thoughts that told me to stop, let go, drop onto your knees, to release. Shit, this was a message I needed, apparently!

I noticed how much better I felt when we finally let ourselves release, we exhaled, and filled with gratitude. As we practiced with dukkha in mind, I began to notice that constriction is an important juxtaposition that allows us to notice moments of peace and release. I also realized that life has more dukkha, more constriction, present that it needs to.

I wondered where in my life I continue to experience moments of restriction, discomfort, and constriction, and where I could create more joy with release and space. How can I reduce tension, or constriction, in my life so I could find more balance?

This yoga practice gave me a lot to think about over the coming weeks.

How Constriction Showed Up in My Life

As I mentioned in my last podcast episode, I felt constriction with the podcast and my blog. To release this constriction, I had to reset my boundaries for the podcast. I had to change the schedule, the topics, and the way I was energetically showing up. These changes reduced my constriction and allowed me to feel the release… the relief.

When I searched for this constriction in other areas of my life, I found it everywhere. I began asking myself, “Where else can I create the feeling of expansion?”, “Where are all the areas in my life that I feel tension caused by constriction?”, “Where do I notice this jarring, annoying, and uncomfortable sensation of “agghhhhh”?”

I created a list of the areas in my life where I'm feeling constriction, blockage, or discomfort. I started by becoming aware of these areas, breathing into the discomfort, and just noticing… not trying to change anything (yet). I simply wanted to know where it was so I could become more mindful, more in tune with my mind, body, and spirit. If I learned anything in that class, it’s that sometimes we have to “sit in the suck”. So, I let myself notice the discomfort.

After a few days of processing, I took note of a few areas of my life that did not have to feel like constriction and could become more expansive.

One of the areas on my list that required “reducing constriction” was related to my role as a commercial real estate broker. I noticed there was some constriction in the way I was showing up that was causing a major disconnect and impacting my ability to enjoy work. It dawned on me that I adopted other people’s habits, techniques, and mindsets early-on in my career because I wanted to “act as if” or “fake it until you make it”. I based my own behaviors on other people in my industry because it worked for them… but this no longer felt in alignment with me. In fact, it was causing me to suffer.

I felt constriction because I wasn’t my 100% authentic self. This mimicking, or masking, served me for a long time, but it was no longer working for me and it had caused a continuous cycle of burnout. I crave expansion, so I’ve made a conscious effort to find ways to show up as my true self every MF day.

As I come into my own, I want to fully embrace and step into my own divine energy. Some of my old habits created dukkha, so I must redirect and create new habits that will support the next journey of my life.

This is the power of dukkha–noticing when constriction is showing up in your life and how we can shift. When we become aware, we can make change. We can apply this practice to every facet of our lives—love, career, money, friendships, family, etc.

You may find that something as simple as how you spend your holidays can cause constriction. Maybe it is the stress of traveling, where you have to go, who will make negative comments, the gifts to buy... Using the idea of dukkha, you can find ways to bring expansion back into the holidays. Maybe you skip traveling, forgo gifts this year as a family, or set firm boundaries with the aunt that always asks about your dating life ;)

Dukkha has become a practice of awareness for me. A constant question of, “How can I create expansive energy and release more constrictive energy?”.

Recently, I looked at how I spend time with my friends, the things I enjoyed doing, and the things I did NOT enjoy doing (hello, dukkha). I found that there are friends that make me feel energized and expansive and there are some that make me feel drained and tired (even resentful in some cases). Turns out, resentment can be a sign of boundaries getting crossed and this can show up as a constriction for us also.

Having this insight, I can make an active choice about who to spend more time with, who I could limit access to, and what kind of experiences I want to say “yes” to more often. There may be times where I choose something that is more constrictive, but I can prepare my energy if I know about it ahead of time. I will be much better off in the end if I’ve prepared for the energy tax.

Awareness gives us active choice and agency over what we do. Think about this idea of constriction and expansion over the course of your week and notice where, how, and when these things are showing up.

Constriction as a Part of the Whole

Constriction doesn’t always mean that the “whole” is impacted and needs to be resolved. Sometimes constriction shows up as a small component within something, or a “part”, that brings us constriction (and not the component itself).

As an example, as I mentioned in my last episode and post, my podcast as a whole did not feel constrictive…. But there were parts of it that made me think it was the whole (at first). When I released the aspects that caused constriction, I instantly allowed the rest to feel more expansive, more energized, and more in-flow.

Let’s say that you are someone who does business development for a company and, while you love your job, you hate cold emails and cold calls. The constriction isn’t your job, it’s a part within the job–cold outreach. That is where constriction could be showing up.

In this case, you could now find alternative ways to reach out that feel more in alignment and bring more enjoyment to work.

This was the case for a friend of mine recently. She mentioned that she didn’t love cold calls because it felt like it lacked a relationship. When we dove into it further, we realized that it wasn’t the calls themselves that she didn’t like, it was her lack of purpose on the calls. Her approach was too general, not specific (or needed) by the recipient. Changing her message changed how she felt and reduced her constriction. I’m sure the people she was calling could feel the difference!

You may notice that once you release a point of constriction, you may have all these great ideas flooding in as a result of the shift. This is normal and something to be celebrated! Welcome in the abundant energy.

Your Ego Reacting to Your Expansion

When this beautiful moment of expansion happens, be mindful to stay in the abundance of it without letting your ego talk you out of your new wonderful ideas.

This used to happen to me a lot: I would release constriction and have beautiful ideas rush into my mind with a swirl of energy and excitement, but after a few minutes… I would begin to talk myself out of them all.

My ego would show up like, “Hey girl, I see you have all these great ideas, I see you have all this expansion coming for you, but expansion means change… and I don't love that for us….. So let’s just stay here… okay? Status quo is known, it’s friendly, it’s safe”.

Our egos have the best intentions for us, but they also fear change. More often than not, their fear of change outweighs their desire for our growth… actually, it always does. So, kindly push your ego to the side and say, “Thank you, love you (mean it), now have a seat in the passenger seat because you are not driving” and then move forward with some of the exciting changes you felt and find ways to reduce more constriction along the way.

Other times, our resistance/constriction, can show up in the form of our egos trying to protect ourselves by encouraging avoidant activities (drinking, social media, working long hours, etc.).

The beautiful thing about the idea of constriction is that it forces us to look at what we do AND how we’re feeling. We get to ask the direct question, “does this activity feel good or is it numbing?”. It is really hard for our egos to hide things from us when we ask really direct questions.

Our ego is our bestie. They love us, but they also mess up a lot. They hide things from us, with love, because they don’t want us to face the ugly things about the world. Thankfully, many of us reach a point when our ego has led the ship for too long, and we start to feel constriction because we’re no longer okay with the status quo. The only way to release this resistance is to make change.

Overt and Covert Resistance

I once read that there are two types of resistance in our lives–overt and covert (super catchy too). Overt is an external pressure point that is really obvious, covert is sneaky and hidden from plain sight.

Overt Resistance

Overt resistance are the things we can name as resistance already. They’re really obvious things like: I'm really trying to win business and it's not happening for me, I'm really trying to get this new job at X company and it's not happening, or I'm really trying to manifest my soulmate and they're not coming.

In other words, you feel like you’re doing everything you can and it's just not happening. This is overt resistance. In my experience, overt resistance usually happens when we are trying too hard to force an outcome that is not in alignment with the Universes’ plans for us.

We may be hard at work, but the universe has a better solution, idea, person, job, whatever it is, waiting for us to receive. The problem is that you may be getting in your own way, so the resistance is you and your expectation.

It's kind of like the universe has the best option available to you waiting in the wings ready to hit the stage, but you're like, “wait, I'm not finished with my solo, so I'm going to keep going”. Meanwhile the Universe thinks, “I have this really great thing for you! Stop for a second and look!”. We may need to clear the stage.

Overt resistance is also closely tied to our ego and can show up as procrastination. On one hand we know we’re avoiding something, but we choose to do it anyway to “protect our potential”. In other words, we protect against failure by never giving ourselves the opportunity to fail forward. We might choose to binge netflix or scroll social media, as opposed to doing the things we know could bring us closer to our goals. We're cognizant of what we’re doing to one extent, but we're usually not fully cognizant and presently aware that this is a means of self-sabotaging. If we did, would we make different choices?

Covert Resistance

Covert resistance are the things that we may not be consciously aware of, or the things that are within our subconscious mind.

In my experience, covert resistance often happens when our true desires differ from what we think we want. We may say (and even believe) that we want one thing, but subconsciously we are self-sabotaging. We may have core values, limiting beliefs, and shadow work that needs to be addressed before we can move past some of this resistance.

When we have doubts in the back of our minds, or reservations of any kind, we keep ourselves from getting what we want.

I mentioned procrastination in the overt section of resistance. Well, an element of this could also be seen as covert resistance since the actions we’re aware of could come from the thoughts that we’re not aware of–these protective thoughts that want us to resist change. Covert resistance may be the subconscious brain that thinks, “If I binge netflix or scroll social media, I know my outcome… It is the same. Same is not change…Change is scary”.

It's kind of that idea of like the devil you know, is better than the devil you don't know. You might think:

“I know that if I sit here and do nothing I can expect my status quo. My status quo is not too bad. I'm cool with staying here, that's fine. But if I make a change all of a sudden… I jump into the unknown. That’s terrifying because I have no fucking idea what the unknown looks like! It could be great, but it could be a hell of a lot worse. And if it could be a hell of a lot worse, which is where my ego thinks it will do, then I’m good with the status quo. Let’s find more reasons to avoid it.”

But, we're here to be fucking changemakers. We're not here for the status quo and to live a passive life, so let’s notice this constriction before it’s too late, avoid escapist activities, and create the change we want to see.

I hope you think about this idea of constriction and consider where it is showing up throughout your day, your week, your month, in your next conversation, in your next meeting, in your next date night, in your next job interview….etc. Whatever it is, notice it.

Ask yourself the direct questions and allow yourself to receive the uncomfortable answers.

I can’t wait to see how your life changes as a result.

Thank you for hanging out with me today. I will catch you in the next post!

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