The Bliss of Tension and Discomfort

Sep 06, 2021

Beloveds. This weekend I had the opportunity to be in solitude for 5 days. My hubby and son are off in the mountains and I chose to stay home and do a Kundalini Yoga immersion that involves physical practice, chanting, meditation and wisdom teachings. I intentionally invited in holding physical and spiritual tension and discomfort so that I could learn where my thresholds are and move through them to the bliss of the other side. Kundalini yoga in many ways is rooted in tension and discomfort, ask anyone who has done the Sat Kriya for 22 minutes (or longer). I balanced this with also doing whatever creative practices I felt like doing in the moment and giving myself full permission to be with what is; in every moment. That includes tension and discomfort, and the paradoxes of that.

Why is stepping into discomfort an important spiritual practice you might ask? First, let me say you can be gentle and uncomfortable at the same time, you can create tension with the INTENTION of loving yourself fully. Doing these practices during times when things are "good" allows you to build your spiritual warrior muscles for when the shit hits the fan. Creating tension in a graceful and intentional way from the inside assists us when tension and discomfort is impressed upon us from the outside. And Goddess knows these last 18 months have brought discomfort (that's an understatement) and tension for each and every one of us.

Our brains love to stay in the zone of what it believes to be comfortable, but that comfort may include behaviors and patterns that are long past their expiration date, or we continue to shove down the discomfort and tension until the discomfort becomes suffering and the tension gets so intense and we stretch ourselves to the breaking point. I don't want to suffer or break, and so I intentionally and mindfully step into discomfort and create the proper amount of tension, so that I can cross the threshold of those spaces into joy, bliss, pure love, and deep compassion for self and others.

Ask any fiber artist and they will tell you without tension their pieces would have no structure or form, they would literally fall apart. And too much tension will cause the fabric to pucker and the threads to break. Finding just the right amount of tension is an experiment until they do it enough times to become integrated into their muscle memory. And the same is true for your spiritual muscle memory. When you experiment with tension you find just the right amount that produces beauty instead of chaos.

The ways I have been experimenting with tension (which for me often means creating paradoxes):

Solitude vs loneliness: I love and am in deep gratitude for the fact that I get the time and space to be in solitude and to give myself full permission to do what I want, when I want, and to just be with myself and my soul. But I have a threshold, as an only child I got very lonely, and loved to be around people, talk up a storm, and be an all-around social butterfly. My threshold as an adult is around 3 days. I am on Day 4 of my hubby and son being gone for a total of 5 days. I am on the other side of the threshold and you know what they say "absence makes the heart grow fonder". But I am definitely at the tension point of getting tired of myself, but I continue to witness and "listen" to what is going on inside. The yoga immersion helps.

So many women (and men) I know have deep fear of being in solitude because they are afraid of what they may learn about themselves. I say why would you not want to know who you are, who you really are? And embrace and fully love your whole self. That is the work my beloveds and when you do it, your relationships and the love you are able to give and receive blossoms.

Inner vs Outer Work: This entire summer has been dedicated to radical self-nourishment and inner work. And in many ways that will continue but I am beginning to hit the tension threshold of bringing some of what I have learned out into the world. I don't know how and I don't know when, but I always do the dance between staying behind the veils and in the mystery and the deep, deep call to be in service. I read this quote from Martin Shaw a brilliant Mythologist which really speaks to this dance.

"There is always a chance in our own lives that we become perpetually marginal, perpetually hermetic, rather than the labour of functioning between the different ambitions of both forest and village. Most interesting teachers are crossroads people; they have counterweight in their thinking. A kind of subtle tension that life tends to bequeath and they encourage. Simple answers don't cut it. Any insight I may have comes tends to come from solitude, but it deepens again when I go through the difficulty of communicating it to a human community." -Martin Shaw

My inquiry to you is, where is your tension? Is it more comfortable to stay in your warm cocoon of solitude and your inner realms or are you always "on", always out in the world, never taking a moment of quiet and solitude to be with your own wisdom? Are you willing to do the dance of both inner and outer so that what you bring out to the world is birthed from your inner wisdom, intuition, and loving truth?

Death as a way to step more fully into life and bliss: Death is a huge subject that brings up a lot for all of us. Some of us fear it; some of us don't. But we all intellectually know our souls have a limited amount of time in this current body. Many of us walk through the world choosing to ignore that fact. This summer I was faced with my own death in a very real way, as well as, some of my loved ones (having nothing to do with the pandemic). Many of you have had to do the same because of the pandemic. Working with death while we are still in this body is one of the deepest pieces of spiritual work we can do. I implore you not to bypass it. There is a reason why there is a Tibetan and Egyptian Book of the Dead. Those wisdom traditions and many others know how to do death as a threshold to living life in full joy, bliss, deep compassion and pure love. Not to mention being fully present, open and receptive in the moment. Making daily choices that are self-nourishing, empowering, and in service to all beings becomes the way of walking through the world when you do this work. Doomscrolling and arguing with people on the internet in order to prove ourselves right holds zero importance when you realize how little time you have in this body and in this life. Understanding we are in the mystery at all times and that things can change in an instant, really brings us present.

Taking life too serious vs. humor as an alchemizer: There is a lot chaos, darkness and heaviness in the world. There is a lot of pain and suffering. It is easy to take ourselves and life very, very seriously. We are afraid if we bring joy, laughter and humor out to the world that we will be seen as making light of situations. And yes some of us do use humor...everything is love and light as a way to bypass. But the Divine has a sense of humor, as do many of the elder wisdom teachers. Humor, joy, and laughter alchemizes pain and suffering, when done intentionally. The elders that embody this such as the Dalai Lama and a teacher I got to spend time with this weekend Robert Thurman (who was ordained by the Dalai Lama) aka Tenzin Bob (80 years old) bring humor and playfulness to serious situations. Why? Because they have seen it all, been there done that, and understand deeply the impermanence of life (see death), and find joy and bliss in everything life presents us with. Tenzin Bob is hilarious. And doesn't bypass talking about anything. He is a proponent of Joyful Activism. And he coined a term C.T.F.U- Cheer the eff up. Because really, where is all of this seriousness, fighting, arguing, and us vs them mentality getting us? Nowhere. It is through pure love, inner joy, bliss, and deep compassion (even for those we disagree with it...because it is easy to be compassionate towards those we love and agree with, not so easy with those we don't...that is where the work is) that this world will shift. There is no other way.

For me, I have a new life goal. One I can begin to embody now by bringing in more Trickster energy which I have been doing all year, even through and most especially while dealing with my own soul descent. But when I am 80 I have decided I desire to be a blend of Betty White and Tenzin Bob.

I leave you with the invitation to sit with what brings tension and discomfort and then invite it to dinner, enjoy it and savor it, be with it and cross through the threshold to the other side. What lies there is the most decadent dessert you can dream of.

Love and Light,



Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.