Sitting in Discomfort

18 Jan

“It’s a useful skill, knowing how to sit in discomfort,” our yoga instructor said.

Usually, anything resembling yoga mumbo jumbo goes in one of my ears and out my nose with my next exhale. Or something like that.

But this time, I happen to agree.

Sitting in pain is bad.  Sitting in filth can be worse. But discomfort, best defined as unease or hardship, is something we all need to learn to handle.

In yoga, some of the poses (ok, most of the poses) involve discomfort. If there’s actual pain, you’re either doing something wrong or trying too hard and you should back up. But discomfort means you are stretching something that is tight.  And if you breathe into it, choose to relax, it gets easier.  It may never get easy. But it certainly gets bearable.

We all experience tightness that needs to be stretched. Maybe it’s talking to strangers or learning to come alongside someone in sickness or sadness. Maybe it’s that period in between interviewing and waiting for a phone call. Maybe it’s having to give someone bad news. Or admit that we messed up. Or handle a performance appraisal that isn’t going to be all candy and cheer.  Or attend a rose ceremony and not give someone a rose.

Life is full of discomfort.  And shying away from it is the opposite approach to “getting out of our comfort zone.” Or maybe we got out of our comfort zone and now we’re looking for the nearest entrance back into it. The problem with running from discomfort is simple.  You back off and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  You let a sliver of fear or doubt in and it makes it that much harder to breathe into the discomfort the next time around. Whereas if you learn to relax, if you learn to live with uncertainty, if you learn to put yourself into discomfort and survive it, the next time seems easier.

Harder. Easier. Your choice.

You may not be able to dance in discomfort.  And you probably won’t be able to sleep in discomfort.  But sitting in it?  That seems doable.



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