Resume the Stability of Tension

This is a post from a couple of years ago. I am re-posting it because this phrase – Resume the Stability of Tension – keeps popping back into my mind lately. Although I am in a completely different life situation now (I left my job very soon after this post and started grad school a year later), I am paying attention to it. The “naggings” of our unconscious are important to listen to, they hold messages.


[June 18, 2009] A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar by my journal-writing/therapy mentor, Kathleen Adams. At the time I was at the height of my distress over my job. The idea of a whole day writing and learning more about journal techniques from ‘the master’ had momentarily calmed and uplifted me. Then Kay asked us to finish the following statement, “Right now in my life..”

I wrote frantically for five minutes. It poured out of me. After the writing sprint we were asked to write a sentence or two of feedback to ourselves: “As I read this I notice…” This personal feedback was what we shared with the group (if we chose). I told them that although I was calm before the write I was now a nervous wreck! I had traded a relaxed attitude for hunched shoulders and a stomach of jumping beans. Kay told me I might want to explore this in an exercise we would be doing in the afternoon.

At lunch Kay and I shared a table, and the conversation – which was intended to be about my upcoming journal workshops – became a mini therapy session. I was still shaky and Kay, being the experienced therapist that she is, asked me all the right questions. The word “loyalty” came up.

That afternoon, Kay told the group about Alpha Poems. I was already familiar with them as they were a fun portion of my workshop training. I chose to do a poem based on the word Loyalty. Here’s what came out:

Limits myself, always
Open, always
Yes, never no
Limits the way I go
Take the road to

Wanting to play some more I chose to do a poem using the entire alphabet.

Bending to others
Cutting out the
Day to
Everyone but me
Judging myself
Knowing how
Loyalty is my
No one is happy
Open the door
Pursue the
Resume the
Stability of
Undo the

I didn’t think about what word or phrase would come next, it just happened. I didn’t even know what word I was going to write until I began writing it. It is a magical thing!

Anyway, the phrase that immediately jumped out at me was the strange, “Resume the Stability of Tension.” Now, I am a tense person and in my experience, that is not a good thing. I have even taken drugs for it. Hubby frequently asks me in utter frustration as he runs out of door 15 minutes before he needs to, why it has to be “so tense around here in the mornings?” I couldn’t put my finger on what it meant, exactly, but I loved the sound of that phrase and had a feeling it had something important to tell me. I played with the idea in my journal, even wrote more alpha poems around it. Still not knowing how to decipher its meaning, I decided it would be my new mantra.

Then a couple of days ago, I read this in Christina Baldwin’s Life’s Companion:

… you need to envision a lifeline between [where you are and where you want to go]. It needs to be tense, like a tightrope, something you can walk along. The necessity for tension requires we develop a different attitude about tension: this is creative tension. Creative tension is what creates the path. When we lose tension, we wander without focus (my bolding). We have to decide over and over again to stay close to the tension, to walk the wire.

I was wandering without focus. I was trying to split myself between a job that was sucking the life out of me and the longing to pursue a writing/teacher career that was “dragging me about” (again, I quote Christina Baldwin; she *is* me). I needed to Resume the Tension (Focus) to gain Stability.

I put loyalty to my boss and my job aside and I chose to put my longing back in charge. Together we will walk the high wire of creativity – up where Potential and the Higher Self lives.


7 thoughts on “Resume the Stability of Tension

  1. I think get what that means – not having *some* amount of tension won't "sharpen your axe" (ie, focus). I can't write well or work well (or even clean the house well) when I don't have some sort of impetus (in the form of tension or deadline) for doing so.

    However, I think it's also important (for me, anyhow) not to swing too far over the edge into too much tension, because then I get paralyzed with overwhelmed feelings and no action occurs other than spinning my wheels. So, yeah, there's got to be some amount of tension, but not too much (at least for me).

    At any rate, thanks for posting that. It makes sense to me.

  2. Pingback: Jour du Journal: Alphapoems « wisdom within, ink

  3. Joanna,
    You have shown the vital connection from our journal to our lives in this post! Wow. I loved the alpha exercise and the all important information you gleaned and then applied to your life with your work. You certainly brought about positive change as a result of the wisdom and intuition you benefited from. I love that.

    I have chosen your post, Resume the Stability of Tension, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 7/13/11 for all things journaling on Twitter. I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal which you can sign up for here:

    You’re welcome to join us for #JournalChat Live on Thursdays at 4 p.m. CST/2 PST for all things journaling on Twitter through my account @JournalChat.

    Thanks again for giving us a clear picture of how journaling gave you focus to get things moving in the right direction.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter

  4. Joanna, marvelous post! Like you, I’m entranced with your phrase, “the stability of tension.” I believe Robert Fritz uses this concept in his book “The Path of Least Resistance.” Kay Adams demonstrates what he means in some of her workshops when she stretches out a rubber band and holds it that way. There’s tension there, and we can use it to guide us to our goals. But usually what happens is that we loosen up one side and rubber band sags, loosing that valuable tension. I’m not explaining it very well, but it is an effective metaphor.

    • You explained it perfectly! What amazes me is that I had never heard of this concept when I wrote it – rather IT wrote itself! – inner wisdom at its best!

  5. Pingback: Again with the Tension?! « wisdom within, ink

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