Tension is a closed consciousness that refuses the world through rigidity and agitation. Tension is inner violence that refuses equanimity and invites struggle. Tension is, for the most part in our day and age, unnecessary and self-inflicted.
Today, try to notice the tension that rises in your body and mind. When it rises, if you wish, you can relax by focusing on your breath, sitting in meditation, or stretching. But it is enough that you simply notice it; awareness of any state transforms it. Tension swells in the darkness of unconsciousness and dissolves in the light of attention.
Notice the tension in your body – in your chest, your shoulders and neck, or your jaw. How did it arise? Was it fatigue, or the unnatural cycles of sugar or caffeine, or the stress of the responsibilities you carry in your life? Whatever it is and wherever it manifests in your body, let the gentle fingertips of your mind explore and taste it. Be curious about your manifestation.
Notice the tension in your relationships – see how your mind tightens and the body replies as you close up internally out of the expectation of an argument. Perhaps there’s good reason, or perhaps in the scope of your life the argument means nothing, but if you feel tension before the first word is spoken you are being closed and violent. Decide that the shadows of the past and hopes of the future will not pollute your bonds, and set yourself and your loved ones free of expectation.
Notice the tension in your mind as something you desire appears on the horizon of possibility. See how the ghost of an ideal future shuts you off from the real possibilities and majesty of unfolding creation, how it blinds you to everything other than what you think you want or need. See how, if you decide to pursue something without mindfulness today, the pursuit itself might become a false idol that draws you away from the miracle and bliss of here and now. You can pursue with joy or you can pursue with greed; today, set the intention to chase the things you want with the happiness of one child chasing another around the playground.
Tension underlies the recurring thoughts and cyclical depression that we call addiction. The opposite of tension is gratitude – tension is about clinging and resisting, while gratitude is about accepting all gifts in the faith that we are constantly guided. Tension is about obstacles and non-love, while gratitude manifests as compassion and peace. Tension is a knot and gratitude is fluidity.
Witness the tension, and be grateful it is merely weather in the cathedral sky of your spirit.