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Tension - Its Cause and Release

By Arun Goel

We strive for mental peace all the time. The more we strive for it, the more it seems elusive. Due to our living ways, we keep accumulating tensions within us. We try to do things to make us feel happy, we run after all kinds of luxuries and escapism for that peace of mind, but to no avail. We forget that to resolve tension one must look within rather than the external surroundings.

A pebble thrown in a pond creates ripples. External pleasures may help the ripples, but we have to stop the throwing of stones for peace of mind.

Yoga helps not only the body, but the mind as well. The mind is where all tensions and anxieties dwell. They become so settled in our minds, that they keep going deeper and deeper and start affecting our conscious self and moods even without our knowledge. Feelings of sorrow, worry, failure, power, greed, jealousy etc. if not removed keep getting etched in our minds. These feelings then keep re-surfacing into our conscious mind and create tensions and unexplained mood swings.

Tensions are of three types- muscular, mental and emotional. They all can be managed with yoga practices.

Muscular Tension-

This is the tension of the body, nervous system, digestion problem, hormonal imbalance or any medical condition. Such tensions can be measured using tests.

They are also the easiest to handle. They can be managed by a specific Hatha yoga plan of asanas and pranayam.

Emotional Tension-

These tensions are a result of emotions like feelings of hate, love, loss, success, failure, death, happiness etc. Emotions sometimes lead to confusion and are difficult to handle. Things like expressing yourself clearly, facing an honest fact is all difficult, leading to upheaval of the mind and increased tension.

Sometimes, emotional tensions are released in the forms of dreams or other areas or experiences. But otherwise an effort has to be made to lighten up the mind.

Emotional tensions can be handled by practice of Karma Yoga and Bhakti.

Karma yoga is not any kind of physical yoga, involving asanas and the works. It is yoga on the mental level, yoga to discipline senses, the mind and emotions. It can be practiced all the time, while doing office work or work at home. Karma Yoga is about attitude of doing work without any expectation. Work should be done with whole heartedness, and not expect anything in return. It is to gain joy in the process. This requires lots of change in ideas and outlook towards things and may take days or years to master. When you do not expect, you are not adding any baggage to your mind. If a task is successful it's ok, if not even then it's ok. It is to treat "Work as Play" .

Bhakti Yoga means, surrendering everything to the higher force. It could mean God to someone or simply his Guru. It is to understand that everything that happens is because of his will and that I am just the medium. It means total devotion and boundless love towards your deity. It is the love which becomes the guiding light.

Emotions create havoc in our mind. When emotions override our wisdom, they make us chase the perishable pleasure of life, leading to repeated disappointments. With the practice of Bhakti, the love and emotions are channeled to a higher force, keeping us light hearted and in peace.

Mental Tension-

Mental tensions are caused by excessive intellectual activity. Intellectual processes of the mind create balance or imbalance. Mind is a whirlpool of fantasies, confusions and oscillations. With years, these whirlpools increase in number and strength, affecting our lives. These accumulated feelings - either happy or sad - keep affecting our moods from time to time. We sometimes get angry, irritated or depressed and blame it on a superficial cause, which is not often true. It is what is inside us on the mental level that makes us see things as good or bad.

Before such accumulated feelings start affecting the daily life, it is essential to clean the mind up. To detoxify the mind, to get rid of deep rooted experiences, to release the stresses - Meditation is the key. Once the pent up emotions are released there is feeling of nothingness and tranquility.

There are several ways to practice Meditation. Different methods suit different people. But to make a beginning is what is important. What you like or dislike will be a process of self-discovery over a period of time.

Mantra Japa, Antar Mouna and Yoga Nidra are some very effective and easy to practice ways, to reach state of meditation.

Mantra Japa or Mantra repetition seeps down into the mind where thoughts are residing as seeds. From there they act upon the deep rooted feelings and expel them. Therefore, in the initial stages of mantra practice the mind becomes more restless. But as the thoughts get expelled, the burdened mind becomes lighter. The tensions are released, leaving peace behind. The easiest way to practice Mantra Japa is with the help of bead strings or Malas.

Antar Mouna or Inner Silence is the practice in which, a person just observes the behavior of the mind without any judgments or obstructions. The practitioner just witnesses the goings of his mind without any partiality. When the mind is brooding over a thought, we may become sad or happy. The idea of this practice is not to get affected by our thoughts, and just watch them with detachment- like a movie. Observe the thoughts, as if they are not yours. This practice too will help in release of tensions.

Yoga Nidra or Psychic Sleep is a relaxation technique where you actually don't sleep. While lying down, each body part is made to relax, followed by relaxation of the mind. It is powerful technique, leading to great release of tensions and strengthening of goals. This can be practices for half an hour daily.

Just like anything new, Meditation practices also may take some time getting used to. It may take few or several attempts to reach a meditative state, depending on the state of one's mind, how relaxed or worked up a person is. One must not lose heart, but only tensions to get relief.

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