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Expansion and Contraction: the Everchanging Journey of Recovery

Recovery, much like life, is not a straight line from point A to point B. Although sometimes we wish it were as simple and clear-cut as an arrow pointing us in one direction with a path laid out, we know that’s not the case. In fact, recovery is more fulfilling, complicated, and growth-promoting because of this very ebb and flow. The natural rhythm of life is based on expansions and contractions. We’ll explore the recovery process in relation to that universal rhythm.

The Ebb and Flow of Universal Energy

Ancient philosophers divide the world into masculine and feminine energies. These have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the pulse of life. The masculine energy (yang) is expansion, activity, forward-momentum, and what we think of as an action. The feminine energy (yin) is a contraction, a slowing down, and a reflectiveness. Both of these polarities are of equal importance. We can think of them as the inhale and the exhale, the north and south poles, or the sunrise and sunset. Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it simply changes forms. When we stop and remember that this ebb and flow is the basis for earthly life, we can start to embrace these changes in our recovery.

Recovery Ebbs and Flows

Sometimes we feel the energetic forward-motion of expansion in recovery. We feel ourselves working a step or making progress. Others are cheering for us and recognizing our accomplishments and it feels like we’re running in a race, about to cross a finish line. Other times, we turn inward, feel sad or perhaps stalled in our recovery, or maybe we even backslide or relapse. While these feelings can be disturbing, try not to panic. Employ mindfulness techniques of simply observing these ebbs and flows and accepting them as part of your recovery journey. We can’t be in action mode forever, as this would lead to a total depletion of energy. Wherever you are in your recovery journey, know that ebbs and flows, quiet times and times of triumph, are part of the process. Let go of judgment and stay in the flow of self-awareness and peace. When in doubt, turn to the natural rhythms of the universe or simply your own breath. Inhale, exhale.


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138.

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