“The more we practice, the more sensitized we become and the more we notice. The process goes on without end and we always have more to discover, even if we are talking about a tiny area of our body.
As we become more and more aware of the parts of our body, at a certain point we will notice something else: the tension in each part. The more we explore this, the more we begin to sense that our entire body is actually riddled with tension. We are talking here not about the natural, healthy tension that is part of our being human, but instead we are talking about neurotic tension, elective tension, superimposed tension – superimposed by our conscious orientation, our ego. Neurobiology tells us that this kind of pathological tension extends all the way down to the cellular level and is a contributing factor to ill health and disease.
So why are we so tense? As we shall see later for ourselves, any naked, unfiltered experience is initially felt to be painful and problematic; without thinking, we try to withdraw from it, evade and get away from it. We do so by literally tensing up, and this tension is everywhere. Why is unfiltered experience painful? Because any new experience is perceived by the conscious ego as a threat. As William Blake observed, human experience in its primal, unprocessed form is infinite. This infinity runs against one of the ego’s primary functions, which is to meet the unexpected and, through subverting it into a convenient and safe interpretive framework, to limit and control it and finally, when carried to an extreme, to deny not only its significance but its very existence. When new meditators confess, ‘I feel like I am missing out on the experience of being alive,’ they speak the truth.
Tensing up is a way of avoiding the unadorned experience and the discomfort it brings ego, whether that discomfort is physical or psychological; tension is our way of closing down experience and shutting off awareness. It is the somatic expression of us holding on to our small ego concept, our restricted, left-brain identity. On the one hand, physically freezing and contracting in tension, and, on the other, psychologically shutting down and hanging on doggedly to our small sense of self are actually the same thing, just manifesting in these two different modes.”
Reginald A. Ray. "The Awakening Body. Somatic Meditation for Discovering Our Deepest Life." Shambhala, 2016.