Note: the information in this article was gathered from personal experience, reflection, and work with my own feelings. Take it as you will.
Definition of Tension
A sensation of restraint or restriction. Can vary widely in intensity. Can manifest physically as well as on emotional or pre-physical levels.
Probable symptoms of Tension
- Tension in the body’s muscles
- Freezing up and being unable to move forward with a direction or decision
- A sense of obligation or pressure to do certain things
- Resistance to change
What causes Tension
Tension seems to be caused by attachment or resistance. There can be various types of attachment, and various types of tension, but these all seem to share the same root.
By attachment, I mean the ever-present sense of trying to escape towards something that isn’t present. There can be the desire to maintain, contain, or control something upon whose presence one feels dependent on.
These kinds of attachments aren’t necessarily just physical rearrangements of environment, but it can be any kind of fixed position of any element of reality, including thoughts and emotions. For instance, one easy thing to get attached to is a sense of certainty. The confidence that comes from residing in that spot can make you feel great, and like your life’s moving on track and in a positive direction. A lack of certainty, however, can seem daunting, like a mire that one shouldn’t have to fall into or crawl through. Nevertheless, we can find ourselves in periods of uncertainty at any point in life. By trying to turn away from that, we create tension. At least, this is how the current model suggests this works. You can test it yourself, and see.
In other terms, tension seems to manifest itself from resistance, in particular resistance to change or the present. When that resistance is relaxed, so too is tension relaxed. And attachment and resistance are linked in the sense that we resist letting go of what we’re attached to.
Attachment in general can be brought on in response to a sense of vulnerability. Rather than be exposed to what one feels vulnerable to, one can attach to what will cover over that vulnerability. Without that sought-after thing, one can feel lost, scared, and indeed tense.
Working through Tension
One thing you can do for tension is merely to become more aware of it. For this, I would suggest finding a place where you can completely relax your body, mind, and emotions. By using your awareness, look for where tension exists. You may notice certain areas getting highlighted for you as the most tense areas inside your area of conscious awareness.
Once you’ve found some tension, try putting your awareness on it, to see what kind of emotions or visualized appearances this tension has. It may seem to have a color to it, for instance. If you can see emotional state of that tense aspect of yourself, then try to encourage it to relax and let go. If you want to be thorough about it, try to look for what the tense side of you is attached to. Just let them express to you what they want, what they care about, what they’re scared to lose, or what they feel threatened by. Look for the vulnerability that they might feel exposed to, if they were to let go. This way, you can see with greater clarity what’s bothering you on these levels, and be able to move forward, cognizant of this information.
With respect to vulnerability, you can also always look for a way to be at peace with the vulnerability, or try to see if there’s a way to calm your concerns, on the level where you are feeling vulnerable.
For instance, let’s say you’re feeling tense around others, and find out that you’re attached to them thinking well of you, and vulnerable to them not liking or judging you. You could look at why you didn’t want to face that judgment, what about it scares or intimidates you, and also perhaps try to understand why it has occurred in the first place. You can open up the concern for discussion, just as one might discuss things with a scared child, trying to get them to relax and to help them find a way where what intimidates them might not be so scary anymore. You can work with yourself and your feelings in this way, to be at peace. In this example, that might mean being okay with being criticized, not taking it to heart, judging it fairly for yourself without shaming yourself, and weighing your options, given the information that judgment shows to you – about yourself, the situation, and the other people involved.
Likely Benefits of working through Tension
- Greater fluidity, responsiveness, and presence
- Letting go of the past and of future expectations – able to live more in the present
- Better able to see how you want to behave and act in the present, rather than getting caught up in habits and your comfort zone
- More of an ability to surprise yourself
- A greater sense of authenticity for how you really feel in the moment, without the need for stories about what those feelings mean or what you must do in response to them
- Greater sense of freedom in your ability to navigate life and handle your consciousness
- A lighter sense to you – not as weighed down or burdened
- A greater ease with respect to feeling things deeply, without a need to retract
Articles related to Tension
Article on Anxiety – anxiety seems to be a form of tension, almost to where they’re the same thing. However, tension itself seems to be something a little more basic. You’ll probably often find that tense sides of you are indeed anxious, though sometimes instead they might be sad, or rigid in their thinking.
Article on Impatience – impatience seems to be an outgrowth of a tense state. The unpleasantness of feeling tense can lead to a greater desire to escape the moment to something new, thus causing impatience.
Article on Fear – ultimately, tension has a lot to do with the fear of what is. For instance, attachment to certainty may have to do with fear of something that you currently can’t be certain of, and feel vulnerable to.
Article on Self-Mistrust – a sense of self-trust may do a lot to calm down one’s tensions, and to exist more fluidly in the moment.
Article on Stress – stress and tension are basically the same thing, with stress often categorized as a whole lot of tension at once. Whatever’s at peace has no stress or tension at all, and feels very pure and light.
Relaxation – Relaxation as a technique can be utilized to become aware of and to relax tension, through conscious intention. Thus, it can help a lot with tension.