Being comfortable with our discomfort

 Musings, Yoga  Comments Off on Being comfortable with our discomfort
Sep 152016
Photo by Melanie Faucher Shanti

Photo by Melanie Faucher Shanti

We pretty much do everything to avoid being uncomfortable, don’t we?  I don’t know about you, but in the summer, I blast the air conditioner. In the winter, the heat. We avoid speaking the truth in a situation for fear that we might become… Uncomfortable.

We can take medication at the slightest discomfort. Even a little headache. This masks the pain and doesn’t get at the root of the issue. But we are afraid of pain. We are afraid of feeling.

But real work, real healing happens, when we acknowledge our pain, discomfort, sadness. We notice it. We observe it. We feel, and we do not ignore.

Many of us are afraid of letting our children be uncomfortable. Which is one reason why, I’m assuming, so many of us stuck in this cycle. Parents can go through great lengths, with the best of intentions, to make sure their child in no way experiences discomfort.

But being uncomfortable is normal.

Being sad, angry and frustrated are normal. 

Crying is healthy.

Everything, of course is relative. And I’m not talking about purposely inflicting pain or suffering on anyone, certainly not our own child. I’m not talking about letting a newborn Cry it Out to build character.

But here’s a situation very familiar to most of us, as moms. If not you, someone you know–a grandparent or a parent in the park:

A child falls and starts crying.

The immediate reaction is to tell the child he or she is okay. To say, “You’re okay, don’t cry.” Probably even more so if the child happens to be a boy. If the child fell and is crying, it’s normal and healthy for her to feel pain and express her emotions. Saying, “shhh, don’t cry, you’re okay,” even with the best of intentions, is harmful. I recommend the movie The Mask You Live in, for more on masculinity, and how this “Man up”  attitude is causing the majority of our problems.

We live in a culture where we repress everything. We’re taught in these playground situations to do exactly that. We grow up, unable to express what we need to. Unable to be comfortable with feeling discomfort. But it comes out, eventually. It manifests as illness. We drink to excess so we can finally say what we should have said, sober. If we valued ourself and knew or feelings were legit.

Vipassana meditation is an amazing way to learn to observe sensations, observe situations, as they are. Good, bad, it doesn’t matter–they’re just sensations and they are not permanent. I love Yin Yoga for the same reason. It’s an opportunity to sit in some potentially uncomfortable positions, equanimously.

So feel your pain. Get uncomfortable. Sit in your shit.

Growth is on the other side.