Occupy Sanity Tool (OST): Tension
Imagine that you are ready to start your day by reading something inspirational or helpful. You might have decided to go to this website to read about the latest OST. You push the button on your computer…and nothing happens.
You stare in disbelief at an unresponsive device. You push the button again…multiple times and then stare at a blank screen with your mouth gaping open. First, you curse. Then all in a rush, you say, “This can’t be happening! Really? Today, of ALL days?”
Who among you has not had this experience or something similar? If not, consider yourself lucky and read on because this OST: Tension, can be useful for finding solutions to problems, big or small.
Tension vs. Stress
In my blogpost Stretching: A Key to Growth Through Challenges, I wrote that “…stress is neither good nor bad rather a biological process that gives us some direction.” There is enough research and scientific proof that too much stress damages our health and well-being. One of the leading causes of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes is hypertension caused by excessive stress. That did not encourage me to see a benefit of stress, which, after all, increases tension. Undaunted, I decided to use one of the exercises I proposed with the OST: Perspective called ‘Flip it’ by asking myself how could tension be helpful?
The Path of Least Resistance
In his book, Secrets of Natural Success: 5 Steps to Unlocking Your Inner Genius, William Whitecloud postulates that the key to overriding our current reality in favor of our desired outcome is to transform emotional tension into creative tension. From his point of view, energy follows the path of least resistance, much as electricity flows through a copper wire. He explains that a powerful strategy for finding solutions is:
“…incorporating your Emotional Tension into Creative Tension by including it as part of your Current Reality. If you think about it, all at once this acknowledges your emotional reality, establishes Creative Tension at a deeper level, and assigns the power to the desired end result or Vision over the Current Reality…”
Thus, by breaking a situation into three parts: your current reality, choices, vision (outcome, target, etc.), you set up a tension that resolves in favor of the vision because it is the path of least resistance.
Use Tension to Hit Your Target
“The gigantic tension before the shooting of an arrow, and the total relaxation seconds later, is my way of connecting to the universe.” – Paulo Coelho
Another way of looking at it is to see tension as helping something to be optimal. For example, when you pull back a bow to shoot an arrow, there has to be tension to create enough force to propel the arrow toward the target and hit your intended mark. Whereas if you concentrate on, for example, the pain in your shoulder and the shaking in your arm, you risk losing the optimum force to reach the target/goal.
Practicing this OST – Being With Tension
“If Plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.” ~ Anonymous
Let’s return to my computer problem and how I found some solutions by being with Tension.
Current Reality & Vision
- The computer will not turn on. The only Plan B I have is my tablet & my smartphone. While I am grateful to have them, they have limitations for most of what I need to do on a computer.
- Vision: A computer that works! And another as a backup (Plan B, C, D….!)
Choices – these began to be evident.
- I texted my computer technician, who left a voice mail saying he would contact me later in the day.
- I did the Box Breathing Technique to calm my mounting anxiety and limit my catastrophizing.
- I did my daily exercise, meditation, and mindfulness practices.
- I looked online to see about buying at least one computer quickly.
- I did a Mind Map to get clarity about what I wanted and needed from a laptop and a desktop computer, so I would be ready for the technician when he called.
- I waited…and waited and went on with my day using the devices I had available.
- At different intervals, throughout the day, I felt my anxiety rising and my natural tendency to want to achieve the result: a computer that works.
- When that happened, I would do the Box Breathing Technique and be with the tension I was feeling as a result of not resolving this situation.
The technician didn’t call me back that day, instead the next day with the unexpected news that he would loan me a computer while he repaired the other one. It’s obvious to me that a solution arrived because I was staying in the present moment with the tension of uncertainty. By doing that I actually had less anxiety which created less stress, and THAT was much better for my overall health and well-being!
Let us know your experience with this tool and contact us if you would like some support at firstname.lastname@example.org.