The Transformational Power of Tension

November 1, 2018

A painting of two rocks with chyrstalline insides, approaching each other like amoeba.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the past I’ve thought that peace and fulfillment in life would come when balance was achieved. We often speak of balancing our work and pleasure, or our service and personal time. For a long time, this balance in society could be seen as an either/or concept.

A painting of two rocks with chyrstalline insides, approaching each other like amoeba.

Untitled by Khoirunisa Yusuf

A higher consciousness has revealed that this duality is a cause of separation—keeping us apart from God (have mercy on me, a sinner) from others (the grass is always greener on the other side) and from ourselves (as we live with guilt, shame and regret).

This greater awareness contemplates a both/and scenario, as we strive to hold space for something larger to exist. Both/and is a connector, a source of freedom, allowing us to step out of the black-or-white box and acknowledge the variety and creativity of all the shades in between.

And yet, for myself, holding space for both/and still puts in my mind a picture of duality. My space could be larger, to encompass a greater awareness, but still it seem that both sides exist, separate albeit balanced.

A step up from that—or I might say a more expanded view—happens when the both/and create a tension in my life. A simple example would be that I hold a guilty pleasure for pizza on the one hand, while learning to buy and cook delicious healthy meals on the other.

Even holding space for both, in tension, leads me to look for a balance. As long as I don’t overdo my guilty pleasure I won’t have to fear for my health. The other side though, healthy eating, tends to give me a feeling of superiority. Watch me hold the tension, see me balance it with a treat now and then. Being able to balance the both/and can lead, I am seeing, to the same kind of moral superiority as knowing that my side of the either/or is the right side.

I continue to explore, not a holding of the tension in balance, not creating a space within which both are present to either side of me. I am exploring the concept that it is the tension itself that allows me to create a higher consciousness. The important part is not creating the space to hold both—although that is the foundation. Learning how to use the energy of the tension of both to be flung into the uncertainty of something completely new is the key. Using the tension as a bowstring to launch myself as an arrow into the next moment and the next, the tension of both holding taut inside of me.

Robert A. Johnson writes in Balancing Heaven and Earth:

“Sacrifice really involves the art of drawing energy from one level and reinvesting it at another level to produce a higher form of consciousness.”

We’ve seen sacrifice in terms of giving up, an enlightened person as a bringer of peace.

Now I am looking at sacrifice as an offering. Not what am I willing to give up, but rather what am I investing. How far back can I pull the bowstring of tension to allow the both/and to take on a new form—one that hasn’t been imagined yet; or if imagined, not yet made manifest on this Earth? How do I pull that tension into myself and let in more light?

Leave a Reply

Notify of


Go up