I’ve been thinking a lot about discomfort lately, or rather avoidance of discomfort. As in, how often do we engage with that which makes us feel discomfort? Or how often do we run from discomfort and towards a comforting cookie, glass of wine, or gossip magazine?
Maybe it’s because it’s the start of a new year and resolutions is the buzzword of the season. I started to think about unfulfilled resolutions of the past and I started to wonder why some people want to change but don’t.
Confession: creating this website was one of my resolutions LAST YEAR! I wanted to expand my teaching tools by creating a blog/vlog. I told myself that it would be the coolest thing ever. I would use this creative outlet as another way to help others. Yep, I weaved a really nice story and I had good intentions. I actually took some steps toward my goal, but mostly I replayed the story in my head. Wouldn’t it be great if…?
So what stopped me?
I did the practical stuff: did my research and I made a list of all the things I had to do/learn to do. Yet, when it came time to act, I felt anxious and overwhelmed. I would get this uncomfortable feeling in my chest and I would retreat. Then I would try again. Just go over the list of everything you have to do and go for it! And again, overwhelmed and that yucky feeling in my chest. Fear. Paralysis.
Is this really happening?! Come on Grace, get your sh** together and figure this out. Practice your yoga.
Oh yeah, yoga. The practice of self inquiry. Seek out the obstacles. Yep, do the work.
So I started at the most basic, yet useful, place for self inquiry: the breath. I took a deep breath in and slowly exhaled. I breathed into that yucky feeling in my chest and gave it space. Little by little, the discomfort dissipated. Phew, ok, I’m good now.
Back to my laptop I went, I was determined to check off two items from my website to-do list. The uncomfortable feeling in my chest returned. Didn’t I just use my breath to make you go away?
It took several failed attempts, at completing my to do list, before I realized that making the yucky feeling go away was not the goal. The goal was to learn to be with it. Feel it. Observe it. Give it space. Move with it.
Alas, I’ve been here before. I’ve experienced far more painful physical discomforts. Uh, like mile 20 through 26 during the 2005 NYC marathon! Hence, I knew that allowing myself to feel discomfort while moving forward is possible. Life always provides opportunities to practice what we think we have learned. When I ran the marathon, I knew that I couldn’t breathe the discomfort away. So why was I trying to do that now?
I guess back then I knew there was a clear finish line. Yes, I was surely testing my “edge” by allowing myself to feel pain and push past the negative mind chatter. But, ultimately, I knew: this will be over soon. However, who knows where this website/blog will take me. There is no finish line per se. Deciding to share my yoga practice with a broader audience will involve sharing my vulnerabilities and failures, as well as my successes. So yeah, this process will be uncomfortable. The yucky feeling in my chest will return. But, I will move forward with a refreshed understanding of it.
The uncomfortable feeling in my chest is a physical sensation. Sometimes it is a gross sensation and sometimes it is subtle. Like all things, it is impermanent.
The uncomfortable feeling in my chest does not mean walk away, it means walk through.
The uncomfortable feeling in my chest is actually a signal that I am moving in the right direction.
My challenge to you my friends is to get to know your yucky feeling. When does it appear? Where in your body do you feel it? Can you breathe into it and still move forward?
Peace & Love,