Noticing How You Handle Discomfort

Written by Kate • May 4, 2020 •
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Crab under rock at high tide- Nusa Penida

Have you ever noticed what your habits are in regards to discomfort? The first time I was asked to think on my relationship and habits with discomfort, I was in a yoga class with a really gifted teacher, Nadine McNeil. She had us in a position where we started out in child’s pose and then had us move our arms into prayer position above our head, but on a block in front of us- if you can imagine that. It was intensely uncomfortable on my triceps and shoulders and after just a few moments, I wanted to move away from the pose. Nadine told us then that it was incredibly uncomfortable but it was an important pose for flexibility and asked us to use the moment to reflect on our habits in regards to discomfort.

I’ve often asked myself this questions in the months since. This morning during my meditation session, my shoulder, hips, and ankles were protesting about staying in the meditation pose. I nearly quit but then I remembered to ask myself about my commitment and my ability to endure discomfort (not pain!) to get to my goal. And so I stayed meditating and not surprisingly, when I recommitted to my meditation practice and told myself it was just 20 more minutes, most of my aches went away. I was able to easily make it another 13 minutes before sensations of discomfort again arose. And then it was just 7 more minutes and then it was done.

Revealing My Blindspots

I love it when my everyday life awakens me to habits and thoughts that have been mostly unconscious to me. In this case, meditation for over an hour is important to me because my meditation practice really deepens after about 45 minutes so the remaining 35 minutes are much more peaceful and centered than the swirling maelstrom of thoughts and idea of the initial 45 minutes.I want that more than I want to stop the discomfort of the moment.

Our Primitive Brain’s Message

Often our primitive brain wants use to move away from discomfort. It’s in the driver’s seat when we’re not present and shining the light of consciousness on our every day acts. It’s one of our primitive brain’s purpose- to keep us safe. But without experiencing discomfort (not pain!), we don’t grow. We never get out of our comfort zone and we never really can master anything new without experience some initial discomfort- right up until it becomes our new normal.

Start Noticing Today

Start noticing how automatic it’s become to move away from any discomfort, physical or mental. Notice it without judgement. And then begin to lean into the discomfort, little by little. Soon enough, it’ll be your new normal and you can uplevel your baseline.

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