Sitting with Discomfort
I speak a lot in my yoga classes about the idea of getting comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable. As difficult as this can sometimes prove on the mat, it becomes even harder to practice out in our lives.
This idea of accepting discomfort is something that I’ve been sitting with this month. As humans, we have a tendency to avoid any type of discomfort. We either try and ignore the uncomfortable feelings all together or seek out distractions that help us to numb their sensation. I’ve literally watched myself try and run away from these feelings that I teach so much about sitting with, exploring, and working through.
There is something to be said about choosing positive thoughts over negative, but what happens when certain “negative” thoughts keep resurfacing? My thought on this is that they keep showing up in an uncomfortable way to encourage us to investigate.
Mindfulness invites us to explore these feelings. Mindfulness asks us to be present with the sensations that accompany the discomfort, anxiety, or suffering of the present moment. Although this can be highly unpleasant at the time, there is much to be gained from incorporating this practice into our daily lives.
When we learn to be present with this discomfort or suffering we can gain different perspectives and cultivate better solutions to these feelings. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you keep experiencing repetitive painful thoughts or feelings, break the cycle by giving them some attention rather than continuing to avoid them.
“For most people their spiritual teacher is their suffering. Because eventually the suffering brings about awakening.” –Eckhart Tolle
I had a revelation very recently when I realized I was the creator of my own problems. When I took the time to actually reflect on just the last few years of my life, I recognized that my current life consists of just about everything my past-self ever wanted.
Upon this realization, I had to ask myself how I could feel anything other than pure bliss, peace, and contentment in the present moment. The answer was really quite simple. The present moment was not what was causing me unhappiness, but rather my thoughts about it.
A good indicator of how much time and energy you waste on creating problems for yourself is the physical versus mental energy you exert on something.
For example, if you have someone in your life that you feel creates stress or negativity, reflect on how much time you actually physically spend with this person.
Then, allow yourself to measure that against how much time you spend thinking negative thoughts about that person and the stress they cause.
Chances are, a lot of your stress and unhappiness is caused by the thoughts you are having about the person rather than the actual time spent and events that occur with the person.
Most of our worries, stresses, and “problems” are truly in our head. Overthinking is very literally killing the happiness of our realities.
”“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful”
Vulnerability is defined as, “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” This definition generates the understanding as to why vulnerability is something that is so difficult for many of us.
Fear of vulnerability is actually a fear of being rejected for who we really are. Many of us spend our entire lives hiding our True Self and trying to adapt our personalities, our preferences, and our choices around our perception of other people’s expectations.
The vulnerable part of us is where we house our deepest fears and insecurities. The problem with working so hard to keep these parts of us hidden is that we never are able to build true connections with other people.
We cultivate sincere love and connection when we allow space for vulnerability and for our True Selves to be seen. In order to do this, we need to learn to let go of our obsessions with what other people think of us. The only other alternative is to let go of how you feel, what you believe, and who you truly are; being untrue to yourself.
Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to experience true pleasure.” –Bob Marley
This month, start to take notice of how much of your emotional state relies on the outcomes of situations or the actions of others. It is far too easy to slip into the habit of giving our power to someone or something outside of ourselves. It's our human nature to place too much importance on these things, only feeling a sense of contentment when these external circumstances seem to be working in our favor.
When we give away our emotional well-being to what others are saying or not saying or to how the day is unfolding, we are at the mercy of things beyond our control. We have allowed our own contentment to be determined by what other people say or do; we have made ourselves helpless.
When we live our lives grasping to external circumstance, we fail to find contentment, or santosha in our lives. Contentment is found in developing an understanding that there is nothing more that can or does exist than this very moment. When we cease our need for control and are purely in the moment, the moment is complete.
”My heart is at ease knowing what is meant for me will never miss me, and that which misses me was never meant for me "
When you're feeling too attached to external circumstances or outcomes, find time to repeat this mantra:
"What's meant for me will find me. What's not, I must let go"
Growth & Comfort
"Growth and comfort do not coexist"
Now well into 2018, I am going to suggest that this be a month where you allow yourself the opportunity to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I believe that growth is healthy and completely necessary, but what no one really talks about is how horrible and uncomfortable it can feel as it's unfolding.
Unfortunately, so many people stay stagnant in life because of this feeling of uneasiness that accompanies their personal growth. I encourage you to take the time to sit down and ask yourself how comfortable you are in life. If you've grown complacent in any area, it may be time to take out a pen and paper and set some new goals.
Ask yourself if you are staying in a situation because it's truly making you happy or if it's because you are too afraid to change it for fear of the unknown.
Don't be afraid of change because of the feelings that transpire with growth. Remember, sometimes in life when we feel everything is falling apart, things may actually be falling into place.
”A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there."
And now I do what's best for me"
As we enter this month with some new intentions, I encourage you to practice some self-acceptance. Although the setting of these intentions can be a positive thing, sometimes we have a tendency to allow them to be representative of things we feel we lack or are missing.
We need to acknowledge that we are always whole and we are always good enough. Identify the unconscious thought patterns that make you feel like anything less. Make a conscious effort to replace them with positive thoughts of self-love or gratitude.
The practice of this acceptance is called Santosha, or contentment (the second of Patanjali's Niyamas encompassed in the Eight Limb Path). Santosha is not something that can be sought.
All of the things we do to bring fulfillment to ourselves actually interfere with our own satisfaction and well-being. Contentment can only be found in acceptance and appreciation of what is in the present moment. We need to leave "what is" alone, and contentment will quietly and steadily find us.
”Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."
International Yoga Trainer,