The Expansion Method – A Positive Psychology Technology
Emphasizing the positive
Positive Psychology is a popular scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior with a focus on strengths instead of weakness, building the good in life instead of repairing the bad, and taking the lives of average people up to “great” instead of focusing solely on moving those who are struggling up to “normal” (Peterson, 2008[i]).
‘The Expansion’ is an effective and deeply transformative tool that is based on the spirit of positive psychology and on the principles of spiritual enlightenment. The entire course of action in the Expansion is not founded at all on ‘problem consciousness’ – on the contrary. In the language of the Expansion, the term ‘mental health’ doesn’t imply the simple ability to normally function, but expands into the full flourishing and actualizing of one’s potential of spirit and action. No more ‘ordinary human unhappiness’ (Freud) but instead an optimal and harmonious activity of all components of consciousness.
The meaning of this is that when a person enters a process in the framework of this method, the instructor’s aim is not only to help him dispose of the neurotic factor – a trauma, a compulsive thought, a deep-seated and abysmal fear or an incessant and disproportionate emotional need – but rather to awaken in the entire fabric of body and mind repeated feelings of health, alignment, integration and harmony, until it ‘learns’ them by itself and embraces them as a natural state.
A shift in your perspective
In general, the greatest potential benefit of positive psychology is that it teaches us the power of shifting one’s perspective. Many techniques and exercises in the field of positive psychology focus on this shift because a relatively small change in one’s perspective can lead to astounding shifts in well-being and quality of life. The Expansion method does that and far more. It helps one to shift one’s perspective entirely through the expansion of consciousness. Through the act of expansion, one’s sense of self-identity broadens and stretches so much, thus the ability to look at oneself and one’s life shifts radically.
So, the Expansion Method helps to
- Realize your wholeness by removing traumatic memories and untreated pain
- Release unhealthy patterns of thought and behaviour and adopt new, healthier ways of being
- Regain balance and functionality in the world
- Get in direct connection with your conscious and unconscious skills and abilities
- Renarrate your story of life so you can move from a victim perspective to the position of true inner power
- Connect with your specific inner design for deep self-acceptance and higher levels of performance and fulfilment in the world
The power of gratitude
Research has found gratitude to be one of the strongest contributors to happiness in life (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005[ii]). The ‘Expansion’ helps us to get in touch with very deeps states of gratitude and appreciation, since every time we revisit the unfathomable realms of our consciousness, we are flooded with joy and the direct knowing of the meaning and worthiness of life. Being grateful becomes our natural inner state and the expression of that gratitude happens by itself.
Cultivation of positive emotions
Positive psychology studies have shown that intentional cultivation of positive emotions and positive mood can enhance our ability to directly experience positivity, and thus increase our general well-being and performance (Scott & Barnes, 2011[iii]). The ‘Expansion’ works directly on enhancing the levels of positivity in two major ways. The first put a strong emphasis on the cultivation and expansion of positive impressions, such as positive emotions, positive memories (savouring) and skills and abilities. We learn to recognize positive moments and positive impressions and to magnify them through expansion. This practice allows a deep relaxation and an opening of our ability to feel deep states of happiness and contentment. The second resonates with the ‘second wave’ of positive psychology (Lomas, & Ivtzan, 2016[iv]), which includes working with the negative impressions we have. In the ‘Expansion’ we take any negative memory/emotion/feeling and through the expansion process, we transform the dense and contracted negative impressions into joy, silence and inner power. Just as the lead researcher in the field of positive emotions Dr Barbara Fredrickson claims in her ‘broaden and built theory[v]: “positive emotions do much more than cause us happiness, joy and contentment in the moments we experience them. They also broaden behaviours (“thought-action repertoires”), such as awareness, play, discovery, and curiosity. The more positive emotions we experience, the wider the range of thought-action repertoires we have – in other words, the happier we are, the more flexible and creative we are in the way that we perceive ourselves, create, communicate and work.”
Discovering a deep meaning in life
What is a life worthy of living? What is the meaning of life and how can I have a sense of meaning in my life? all of these are frequent questions we ask ourselves during our lifetime. The Positive psychology literature is full of research and theory on the subject of meaning and many studies show that the more meaning we experience in our lives, the higher is our sense of wellbeing (Wong, 1998 ). The Expansion method emphasizes the topic of meaning since it is highly aware of its significance on one’s quality of life and being.
Through the constant act of expansion, we can enter such deep states of clarity and joy, we start getting in touch with a very fundamental state of meaning. We can see that who we are, in the deepest sense of the word, is inherently meaningful. We get to realize that meaning is foremost a universal experience, one that goes beyond a personal sense of meaning, and that our very own life’s journey, with all of its triumphs and failures, heights and challenges, is embedded with meaning as a result. Each difficult and blissful experience becomes deeply meaningful in various ways and thus our lives are filled with meaning and therefore happiness and peace.
Rewriting my life-story as a mean to create wellbeing
We all possess a story, the way we narrate our lives. The way we tell the story may have deep impacts on the way we perceive ourselves, others, life in general and our place in the scheme of things. Clinical psychology and positive psychology highlight the importance of narration: “the formation of a narrative is critical and is an indicator of good mental and physical health” (Pennebaker & Seagal, 1999 ). But how should one practice the formatting of one’s narrative?
The Expansion teaches us to look at our narrative from a different point of view. First, we just tell our story, as we feel it, understand it and experience it. Most of us will tell a story that is mainly touched by negativity and victimhood since this is the general tendency of the memory system – to see reality’s’ half empty cup’ version. We usually tell a story of the bad things that have happened to us and of our dreams that were shattered. It is true that if we were to simply write our life’s story time and a time again, a better and more positive version of it would probably arise eventually, but in the Expansion, we can take the pattern of this story, expand it a few times and then tell it again from a completely different perspective. It always turns into a story of overcoming, of new empowerment and one that doesn’t include the sense of victimhood anymore. We get to see that we always choose and that we are always given enough tools and means to deal with things to the best of our abilities. Owning such a life-story is the meaning of positive psychology.
[i] Peterson, C. (2009). Positive psychology. Reclaiming children and youth, 18(2), 3.
[ii] Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American psychologist, 60(5), 410.
[iii] Scott, B. A., & Barnes, C. M. (2011). A multilevel field investigation of emotional labor, affect, work withdrawal, and gender. Academy of management journal, 54(1), 116-136.
[iv] Lomas, T., & Ivtzan, I. (2016). Second wave positive psychology: Exploring the positive–negative dialectics of wellbeing. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(4), 1753-1768.
[v] Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American psychologist, 56(3), 218.