Beyond Tension and Belief

woman and man sitting on brown wooden bench

Tension blocks perception. It makes us believe things that aren’t true. It evokes a feeling that we drum up thoughts and actions that really do themselves. Physical/mental tension relays an impression of personal causation, self-created productivity. Tension fashions an illusion, but it is not that difficult to see through.

When we have a new idea, we receive that idea, it surfaces by itself in our mental awareness; we are suddenly struck by having that thought in our mind. Our inner effort of tension does not manufacture it, nor do we elicit the tension to begin with. There is an efforted sensation that sets up with thinking—muscles around the head, neck, shoulders and rest of body contract habitually, not causing our thoughts, rather accompanying them.

It is the same with our actions. We can test this out by noticing that we can momentarily come out of tension (unclenching our inner fist everywhere in our body) and observing that our body is still in its same activity by the fact that it is alive (we cannot physically exist without being in some action, even it’s just sitting, standing or reclining).

Ask yourself how much effort you really need to be in your current activity and note that the state of being in the action does not disappear (you don’t disappear from the space) because you release the muscular strain. Action is just us (the coordinated movements of our body parts in their connected relationship to each other) moving in relation to our immediate environment and specific objects of engagement. We occupy space and activity with or without the familiar tension response.

Getting rid of tension is not required to see through it, under it, beyond it. We can still grasp that it is superfluous to all our activity. Tension masquerades as a self-agent, poses as a force that decides and causes our behavior. Not true. It is extraneous—a mere tightening of our musculature, a reactive stiffening of our jointed, skeletal structure that is a facet of our central nervous system, our neuromuscular functioning that operates as mechanically and spontaneously as our circulation, respiration, digestion and excretion.

Seeing past tension is useful when feeling burdened by the pressure and assumption that we need to keep working in ourself to find ways to generate the thoughts and actions we believe are needed for survival and success. It’s a myth. I call it the myth of doing (the title of my second book). Find ease in the knowledge that regardless of wonted tension patterns, our thoughts and actions yield themselves, occurring automatically as a byproduct of being human. Take a load off your mind and let go of the oppressive belief system that is self-activation.

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  1. I try to look to the source of the tension. I’ll ask myself – What exactly is the cause? Sometimes it’s as simple as running late. Other times it is a major issue.

    Finding the cause gives me control and in my mind a loss of control equals tension. Funny how our minds work and how easy, in some cases, it is to fix things. The mind is a fascinating machine.


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