Photo of Dr Anne Malatt by Alan Johnston for articles and audios on self-care

Self-care moments: A moment with tension

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Hi this is Anne Malatt with self-care moments, and this is a moment on tension.

Tension is an inescapable part of human life. We are subject to forces of tension all the time, through partners, family, friends, work colleagues and through the beliefs and ideals we have taken on and made our own around relationships, family, work, social conditioning, education and the rules and regulations we think we have to live by.

We set ourselves up for tension by subscribing to these beliefs – thinking that we have to look, speak and act a certain way, to fit in with other people and with life.

Whenever we look outside of ourselves, for approval, recognition, acceptance, to feel like we belong, that we are not alone, we feel tension. When we compare ourselves with others, compete for anything, separate, isolate, think we are an individual, we feel tension.

Where do we feel this tension?

Tension is felt in the body, in the particles that make us up, which do not live life subscribed to ideals and beliefs and individual ways of being. They come from a oneness, to which all of this separative way of living is completely foreign and feels intense, hence the feeling of tension!

The way to deal with tension is not to try and escape from this feeling in the body, which many of us try to do with food, drink, and entertainment and distractions of every conceivable kind, but to surrender and go into the body, to allow ourselves to feel what lies deeper within.

The tension that we find uncomfortable is actually on the surface, not deep in our body or our being. If, rather than trying to run from or allowing ourselves to be run by the tension we feel, we take a moment to stop, be still and breathe gently, we may find ourselves feeling more settled in our body. If we stay with the feeling of tension, just letting it be there, but not allowing it to dominate our thoughts or feelings, we will find that beneath it lies something more, a vast well of stillness, of silence, of settlement. And if we allow ourselves to surrender to this well, to tap into this resource that lives within us, we will be able to see the source of our tension more clearly, and feel more able to deal with it.

And we may even feel a different type of tension, not an uncomfortable one but more of a feeling of a gentle tug, a pull to go ever deeper, to surrender and settle more and more into this vast well of stillness that lives within us. This stillness is with us all the time, but when we allow ourselves to be pulled outside of ourselves by the tensions of the world, we find it hard to feel, and even to remember that it is there.

The tension in our body is a blessing, albeit an uncomfortable one at times! It reminds us that we are not designed to live separate, isolated, in disharmony, conflict or chaos. It reminds us that we are all the same in essence and that we come from a oneness, that holds the qualities of harmony, joy, truth, love and stillness. It gently pulls us all the time, reminding us to go inward, where this vast well of stillness lives, and to drink from this well to sustain ourselves, to live from this inner stillness and bring that stillness into our every movement.

Tension is not the enemy, but a reminder of and a call to a deeper way to live. If we learn to make friends with tension, rather than trying to avoid it or obliterate it, the feeling of tension in our body can guide us inward, to a place of stillness that can sustain us. We can never be free of tension, but if we shift our focus from the outer pull of life to the inward pull of stillness, we can learn to enjoy the feeling of tension as a reminder of who we are and how we are to live.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The more that we fight tension the more intense it gets. When I acknowledge that it is there, observe it and slow my movements it seems to dissipate leaving me with a greater understanding of what is going on around me and in me. Tension can be our friend.

  2. Thank you Anne, for this self-care moment on tension. What you have shared shows great understanding. I absolutely love that your voice is so calming, it provides such a beautiful space of settlement that the tension I was feeling melted away!

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