Are You Living in Your Constricted Self?
How (and Why) You Should Break Free Now
Somewhere under your anxiety, anger, and need for control is a whole different you.
Patt Lind-Kyle calls it your expanded self. Once you set it free, she says, it will change your
life forever–and it will also dramatically impact your end-of-life experience.
NEVADA CITY, CA (June 2018)–Patt Lind-Kyle says we all have two states of being: the constricted self and the expanded self. When we live in the former, we are fragmented and in constant survival mode. We’re filled with fear, anxiety, anger, and shame. It’s the constricted self that leads us to sacrifice happiness for money, that keeps us too busy judging and controlling to make deep connections, that drowns the joys of the moment in waves of obsessive worry.
The expanded self emerges when the body, heart, and mind are in a state of balance and integration. This self vibrates at a higher frequency and allows love, appreciation, and gratitude. It creates energy and exudes compassion for all living things. We’re aware, relaxed, peaceful. When we live in the expanded self, abundance flows toward us. We feel whole. We feel free.
Now ask yourself: Which best describes me? If your answer is the constricted self, you’re not alone. Almost all of us live our lives this way–but we don’t have to.
“Living in the constricted self is not really living at all,” says Lind-Kyle, author of Embracing the End of Life: A Journey into Dying & Awakening (Llewellyn Publications, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-738-75356-0, $22.99). “It’s enduring. It’s struggling. You’re cut off from the joy and inner peace that allow you to trust life enough to have real relationships, open yourself up to meaningful experiences, and be truly productive.”
Not only does this create a miserable life, it also leads to a painful death. Throughout her career, Lind-Kyle–who has long researched and coached others on consciousness shifting and brain-mind development for high performance–has seen that people who learn to live in an awakened mind state also have a peaceful, loving, and joyful end-of-life experience.
“We die the same way we live,” she notes. “No one wants to live and die in chaos and fear; they just don’t know how not to. That’s why I teach people how to access their expanded self–which realizes death is just a transition and nothing to fear–early on. Not only do they live a richer, fuller life, they also learn to let go of their resistance around dying.”
She offers a few tips to help you start releasing your constricted self:
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A MEDITATION PRACTICE, START ONE. A daily meditation practice trains you to release your tension and anxiety. The function of a daily practice is to train the mind to let go of the busy resistances of daily life and to learn to just be in the moment. Meditation practice and prayer prepare you to relax, stabilize your mind, open you to compassion, and create a dynamic shift that reduces your anxiety and fear of death.
“If you do not have a meditation practice, create one,” suggests Lind-Kyle. “Find a quiet place and time where you will not be interrupted. Begin by relaxing your body and notice your breath moving in and out. Count 10 breaths and then notice that your body relaxes even more. Continue for 10 minutes. Do this twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.”
GET IN THE HABIT OF SETTING YOUR INTENTION AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH DAY. It’s important to stop the mind_less busy-ness_ and transition to mind_ful business_. At night or first thing in the morning, define what is most important for you to complete this coming day. Is your intention to finish up a work project you’ve long procrastinated on? To write a business plan for a new venture you’ve been kicking around? To prepare the garden and get those winter bulbs in the ground?
“When you live by intention, you’re still busy, but you’re busy with a purpose–one that helps you create your life mindfully rather than perpetuate the cycle of spinning your wheels and getting nowhere,” says Lind-Kyle.
SCHEDULE DOWNTIME INTO EACH DAY. Take a few short breaks to walk around, listen to peaceful music, or simply sit in silence. This will serve several purposes. It will help you break the unconscious habit of filling the day with too much activity and will allow yourself to “check in” and make sure you are sticking with your intention. It also allows you to face the fears and losses that you’ve been running away from.
“Take a few deep breaths and let yourself feel your emotions in the moment,” suggests Lind-Kyle. “What emotions are driving you right now? As you feel your emotions in the moment, this will give you an awareness that allows the unconscious fears to surface and dissolve. Our emotional world is conditioned by what has happened in the past and the concerns of what may happen in the future.”
MASTER THE DISCIPLINE OF LIVING IN THE MOMENT. Fear comes from anticipating some future event. So when you can stay in the present, the fear of death (and everything else) dissolves, and you are free. It can be remarkably hard to stay in the moment. Even if we didn’t distract ourselves with worrisome thoughts, daydreaming, rehashing old events, etc., we’ve got the constant onslaught of media messages from TV, radio, and the Internet dragging our minds out of the moment. The good news is that staying in the moment is a discipline and one we can all master as we go about our day-to-day lives.
“As you go about your daily activities, be very conscious of what you are doing,” advises Lind-Kyle. “For example, notice when you are fixing dinner that you think of only what you are doing. Be aware of your sensations as you slice vegetables or put a pan on the stove. How many shades of green do you see in the broccoli, zucchini, and peppers? How does the knife sound as it slices through the onions? How do the vegetables smell as they are sautéing?”
PRACTICE APPRECIATION. Appreciation trains your reactive, fearful mind to stay focused in the present moment. Motivational writer and speaker Alan Cohen says, “Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.” Lind-Kyle shares a few ways to practice appreciation every day:
1. Look for people to whom, and situations for which, you can express your appreciation. Speak out loud your appreciation for people’s efforts: “Thank you for spending so much time helping my son understand this math concept.” Or, “I really appreciated hearing the live music; it sounded great and made our dinner a really fun experience.” You can even say out loud to companions, or just to God or the Universe: “I really appreciate this glorious sunset.”
2. As you speak your appreciation, feel the energy speaking from your heart.
3. If you find you are focused on judging someone, shift your focus and look for something you can appreciate in them instead. This will build your energy rather than lower it.
4. Keep the appreciation going throughout the day. The more you appreciate, the more the positive energy will increase the clarity of your awareness of the moment.
5. Practice all of the above for two to three weeks and you will find your perception and your awareness have changed.
BEGIN FACING YOUR DEATH NOW. Obviously, this is no small task. It is not something you can check off on your checklist. It is a journey, perhaps a lifelong one, but is one that you must deliberately undertake if you’re to unravel the constricted self. In her book, Lind-Kyle lays out eight steps for doing this.
“A good starting point might be to sit quietly and make a list of all your losses and the fears attached to them,” says Lind-Kyle. “As you create your list, notice your feelings. As you begin to acknowledge your fears, notice how the fear begins to dissolve. You will find repeating this exercise will take you deeper and help to reveal underlying, unconscious levels of fear.”
It truly is possible to be fully alive in our bodies, living happy lives, serving others, and being absolutely free from the fear of death, says Lind-Kyle.
“Life and death are amazing gifts,” she says. “In fact, they are one event. How you live and how you die are the same thing. Thus, to be afraid of death is to be afraid of life. To choose to live in perpetual fear, inside the constricted self, is to squander the most important gifts we’ve been given.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patt Lind-Kyle, MA, is the author of Embracing the End of Life: A Journey into Dying & Awakening, and is a teacher, therapist, speaker, and consultant. Her book Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal Award and a Best Book Award from USA Book News. Patt has written a chapter in Audacious Aging, and she is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up. She lives in Nevada City, CA, and can be found online at www.PattLindKyle.com[.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Embracing the End of Life: A Journey into Dying & Awakening (Llewellyn Publications, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-738-75356-0, $22.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, Amazon.com, and BarnesAndNoble.com