7 ways to Stay In-tension

I sat with my heart last night.  I sat with it in-tension.

In that space in between the in-between spaces of your body.  That space you wish someone would just do an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom number on you because at least someone ripping your heart out through your chest would mean it would be gone.  Instead the tension feels more like how I once saw someone kill an octopus they had just fished out of the sea by sticking their hand in the middle and pulling it inside out.

I’m talking that kind of tension.

My friend said stay with it.  Be in tension.

Yeah, ok, super easier said than done.  But I can’t play hide-and-seek with that pulsating astriction any longer.  So in that space, between excruciating pain for feeling and complete gratitude for feeling, I sat with my heart in tension intending: I will learn from this.  I will not forever be turned into an inside out octopus.

Instead, I will treat my tension like a wise weary traveler, who I know has epic tales and the need for a hot shower and good meal.  And so, when you see him, looking at you strangely out of the corner of your eye, stay in-tension.

  1. When the tension makes eye contact, don’t look away. Sink your eyes into it and get a good grasp on the idea that yes, it is here.  Know that it’s not going anywhere even if you roll your eyes and give it the ol’ see-you-later wave.  It’s still there, two steps below, just teeming in the dermis, waiting for you to acknowledge its existence.
  1. Don’t shoot the messenger. Sit with it because it is you.  Feeling pain is, well, painful.  But sometimes pruning your fingers in tension is what is needed.  Your tension is not inherently bad…it simply is. This scout is here to tell you that something is in (dis)ease so listen to its call.  A punch to the gut fairs better than a 2 x 4 to the face.
  1. Just breathe. You know why everyone says this too shall pass when they don’t know what else to say?  Because sometimes that’s all there is.  Your breath and your pain.  You can drink it out, party it out, flirt it out, sex it out, work it out, drug it out, and all the other outs you want to submerge yourself in but when you wake up, glaze-eyed, messy-haired, smacking around that scuzzy tongue, you’ll role over to see tension waiting for you right where you tried to ditch it.
  1. Stay with it for a while. Instead of giving creepy old tension a disgusted look and pretending it’s not there, invite it for a sit down, buy it a drink, and ask it to tell you its wildest dreams.  Sometimes all it wants is to tell its story. Comment on its new crazy hairdo, ask it about the weather, whatever.  Just get the conversation going.  Like a little kid who finally breaks the silent game, your tension has a lot to say.  And can you blame it, holding back all those wonderful gossipy tales? Pain helps us grow.  Not in a way that is pretty or ugly, but more like pure, expansive matter.
  1. Ask to see its map and tell you a good traveler story. Tension is an epic way warder, moving through your emotional and physical landscapes.  If you ask, it will show you its atlas.  It’ll trace its journey through your body, telling you of worlds unseen yet known.
  1. Ask it how its compass can guide you. Where can it lead you?    In-tension is not frilly or promised.  It is instead holding that space, knowing that the darkest times are when our hearts stretch the most so we can hear our true north. In-tension is where there is nowhere else to go, where we accept where we are because we no longer look at  denial cross-eyed.  At some point you just have to slowly walk up to the foaming beast of tension on all fours and begin to gently massage its ears.
  1. Give it an epic high five (I prefer the jellyfish). Thank it for the chat.  Recognize it did a total Lord of the Rings journey just to bring you a small treasure, a way for you to move forward in your life.  Gratitude moves you through.

Setting the intention to be in-tension not only takes courage but creates it.  To sit with pain, heartache, and grief is part of healing.  So tie yourself to the mast and navigate through those blasted sirens.  They are singing you the secrets of your own insides.  And maybe it won’t be as crash-the-ship as you think.  Maybe it’ll help you find a different path home.

What’s it like to explore your in-tension?

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