Finding Comfort In Your Discomfort

By Melanie Kiss

Finding Comfort In Your Discomfort

In my yoga classes, I love to use the phrase “find comfort in your discomfort”. But what does that really mean? How does one know when not to push too far and whether it is a good thing? Finding comfort in your discomfort is a very deep and personal act for each individual. Let’s break this phrase down and do a little inner work on what this means for you.

Finding Comfort In Your Discomfort

Everyone has areas in their life that are uncomfortable. I am not just talking about aches and pains in the physical body, but about things we might fear and are uncomfortable with. Perhaps we have a fear of heights, public speaking, or even succeeding in life. Whatever the discomfort might be, we should look deep within for the answers. Sometimes it is easy to recognize where it all started, but sometimes it is a little trickier to discover. Nonetheless, our fears and discomforts stem from some experience in the past. The question is, what are we going to do about it today?

My Discomfort: Fear of Heights

My fear of heights developed early on in life. Unsure of exactly when it began, I feel it got worse with time. However, I do not allow that to stop me from doing things. The flying trapeze at the Extreme Hotel is a great way to practice exploring my discomfort. Every time I build up the courage to do a swing, I must first decide to do so. Climbing up the ladder is the hardest part. I always ask myself, Why I do this every time? Fully knowing I am safe and secure in my harness, I still feel the discomfort within. But I must say, it does get easier. With every swing I take on the trapeze, I slowly become more comfortable. I learn to trust myself. So the question is, does this help overcome my fear? It might, little by little, but the most important thing is what I learn from the challenge of intentionally placing myself in my discomfort.

Personal Growth and Uncomfortable Situations

Seth Godin said, “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” Why is that? Well for starters, an unknown author said, “Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.” Such powerful words when you think about it. Personal growth usually occurs from uncomfortable situations and not from comfortable ones. So naturally facing your fears and discomfort can teach you many things, when you really pay attention and do it mindfully. Fears and discomfort can block us from living a fulfilled life.

Does this mean to go skydiving if you are afraid of heights, so that you can overcome the fear? Not exactly, but if it’s something you feel you want to do, jump away. Doing small things that make you feel uncomfortable can really help you become stronger and learn about yourself. Staying in your comfort zone doesn’t really allow for growth or change.

What It Means

So how does this all tie into my phrase in class of “finding comfort in your discomfort”? Yoga is all about quieting the mind and tapping into that pure consciousness that tends to hide behind the mind and ego. “Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down,” (Jigar Gor). So when I say find your comfort in your discomfort, I mean for you to go inwards, into the breath, into the body and make peace with the sensations. To recognize the sensations in your body, without judgement, just as they are. To also listen to your body and what it’s telling you. Challenging yourself but also remembering that when you engage in a posture, you are true to yourself and not pushing beyond your capabilities.

This teaches us about patience and listening to our body. In certain poses we may also have some emotions come up, perhaps thoughts about past experiences. Breathing through these feelings and sensations with non-judgement. Recognizing what comes up, physically, mentally or emotionally and allowing it to just be as it is without putting a label on it. At the end of the day, discomfort is only a sensation we have given meaning to.

Final Thoughts

In our lives, we are presented with challenges every day. We can run away and do what we always do, staying in our comfort zone. Or we can embrace the challenge and learn something from it, perhaps even change our perception about it. May you find comfort in your discomfort and embrace the journey of personal growth!

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