“Comfort zones: If you live in one too long – that becomes your norm. Get comfortable being uncomfortable”- David Goggins
Societal advancements and technologies all seem to push us into a more comfortable lifestyle. Cars, grocery stores, cellphones, and sweatpants all foster a greater level of comfort in our lives. Although I’m wearing my favorite sweats as I write this script, it’s worth acknowledging that too much comfort can lead to a feeling of stagnation and boredom.
Thus, I believe it’s worth learning to become comfortable with the uncomfortable for two reasons, and I’ll use my recent meditative practice to explain what I mean.
Recently, I’ve been reading “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by the late Thich (tick) Nhat (knot) Hanh. In the early parts of the book, Hanh has taught me that my fundamentals are all wrong. Like any novice, I jumped into mediation headfirst and assumed sitting in a criss-cross applesauce position was good enough, and that the true seating position didn’t matter all that much.
As Hanh makes clear, the proper meditation position is a half- or full-lotus position. For those who aren’t aware, this position is far from crisscrossed legs as it requires immense hip, knee, and ankle flexibility.
As a distance runner lacking almost all flexibility, even a half-lotus position is an uphill battle. During my meditation, I sit in what one might call a quarter-lotus with pain surging through my legs and anguish running through my head. As counterintuitive as it sounds, this discomfort is thrilling. Reason number one for embracing discomfort is that discomfort brings challenges. Every night as I tangle my legs together, sit up tall, and shut my eyes, I ask myself: can I endure? Will I last for 15, 20 even 30 minutes sitting like this? Can I sustain holding my legs like this while keeping my mind still and not being carried away by the pain? These questions get my heart racing every night, and I have a newfound motivation to refine my practice even more.
Reason number two for becoming comfortable with discomfort is that discomfort brings new creativity. When the pain has passed and you made it to the other side, we ask ourselves: how did I endure? The question that has propelled society forward is “what’s for dinner?” and humans have met that challenge with continued success as we now feed billions of people globally.
All this to say, discomfort makes us problem solvers, and the creativity evokes from these trials is valuable for lifetime. As I practice sitting in an uncomfortable, upright seat and try centering my mind, I’ve found a good solution is to focus on where my body is hurting and notice if it starts to hurt less. When I bring attention to the pain, it begins to cease as my emotions and manifestations of the pain lessen the actual pain.
So whether you’re starting that big work project, dreading to get out the door for that run, or pushing off your chores, try leaning into that discomfort today. You’ll find your mind behaving in new and powerful ways, and you may even find meaning in your struggle.
Have an awesome week!