Saturday, February 07, 2009

Curious about Tension: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. How Tension Can both Enhance and Threaten Our Lives.

Definition of Tension: The act of stretching or straining; the state of being stretched or strained to stiffness; the state of being bent strained; as, the tension of the muscles, tension of the larynx. Fig.: Extreme strain of mind or excitement of feeling; intense effort.

Tension is the great integrity.” - R. Buckminster Fuller, American inventor

One way to break up any kind of tension is good deep breathing.” - Byron Nelson, American athlete

I chose “tension” to be this week’s theme because I am noticing a level of tension in the people around me. This tension is leading to stress, which every physician and medical article cautions against.

Yes, daily we hear about all of the economic challenges that are growing. We have been told that, “It is only going to get worse.” And, even when you are an optimistic person like myself, it takes a lot of effort to believe that in every economic recession are the seeds of opportunity. Experts are telling us that many became millionaires during the depression. Will we? I like to imagine so.

So, I ask you how you are dealing with today’s tension? Let me share some of the ways I am overcoming daunting tension and all of the negative news we are bombarded with daily:

  1. Exercise and physical fitness are my favorite standbys. I fight tension with the resistance tension of working with tubing and elastic bands. I have also started teaching a modified Yoga class, and embrace Byron Nelson’s quotation about breathing. The attention to breathing slowly and deeply in through the nose and out through the nose has had a huge calming effect.
  2. Careful eating and nutrition are amazingly helpful. I notice that if I let myself go and partake of sweets and calorie loaded baked goods, I feel my energy dissipating and my body experiencing anxiety.
  3. Rest and relaxation are necessary. Many articles have been written recently about the importance of getting a sufficient amount of sleep. This helps with productivity, and productivity – at least for me – leads to a reduction of task tension. A relaxing walk with nature is also soothing, along with reading for enjoyment.
  4. And, finally, I suggest looking for that seed of opportunity. I have started working on coaching short projects one-on-one with some of my subscribers. So far, it has been rewarding and fun. In addition, I feel like I am learning even more from them than they are from me.

I found the quotations concerning tension to be both interesting and varied:

  • The tension between ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ between ‘I can’ and ‘I cannot,’ makes us feel that, in so many instances, human life is an interminable debate with one's self.” - Anatole Broyard, American critic
  • Secrecy involves a tension which, at the moment of revelation, finds its release.” - Georg Simmel, German Sociologist
  • I think a lot of contemplation happens in bathtubs. It does for me. Nothing like a hot bath to ease the tension and think about what's going to happen next.” - Sarah McLachlan, Canadian musician
  • The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet
  • So what does a good teacher do? Create tension - but just the right amount.” - Donald Norman, American scientist
  • So much tension around here in New York. They want to fine you for every little thing you do.” - Latrell Sprewell, American athlete

A few more with a bit of a different twist:

  • I learned very early that an audience would relax and look at things differently if they felt they could laugh with you from time to time. There's an energy that comes through the release of tension that is laughter.” - Twyla Tharp, American dancer
  • If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.” - George Burns, American comedian
  • It is a mistake for a sculptor or a painter to speak or write very often about his job. It releases tension needed for his work.” - Henry Moore, English sculptor
  • The hallmark of our age is the tension between aspirations and sluggish institutions.” - John W. Gardner, American educator
  • The Constitution is never tested during times of tranquility; it is during times of tension, turmoil, tragedy, trauma, and terrorism that it is sorely tested.” - Mike Honda, American politician
  • In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right.” - Ellen Goodman, American journalist

Are you feeling the tension? How are you coping with yours? I would love to hear from you.

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