I recently read a quote that said, discomfort is a wise teacher, and unconsciously found my head spasm a nod in agreement. Discomfort is an interesting thing. We try to avoid it at all costs and yet there are so many times in our life when we will be uncomfortable. The dentist is one that comes to mind immediately. But what else? Remember waiting in line at the DMV? Ever wait in line for so long you felt your muscles clench up and thought you would pull your hair out?
Now we have phones to help us fill that time. Technology helps us to not mentally BE in those uncomfortable positions. Our children can now play video games in line at the grocery store. No more temper tantrums (well until you take away the Ipad then be ready for a truly uncomfortable experience). No more clenched jaw when your little paper number didn’t get called, again. No more boredom. And, no more being aware of our actual experience, feelings or thoughts. Scrolling our phones is way more entertaining than listening to our internal dialogue of worries or to-do lists. But what are we possibly losing?
Think of the muscles in our bodies. If we don’t use them they become weak. The muscles we are losing here are those that help us to really feel and cope with the uncomfortable, even painful experiences in life.
And maybe that’s why this time in history has been so hard for us! We aren’t used to being told that we can’t have all the comforts we desire and our normal routines. That we can’t have hugs from loved ones and to see their fully unmasked faces. All of this makes us feel very tense, irritable and uncomfortable! There is no amount of technology that can help us hide from this.
Yoga teaches us a lot about discomfort. Ever fallen on your face in crow pose? I have. It was UNCOMFORTABLE. On the up side…is there an up side to falling on your face?…maybe this unusual time of quarantine can help us strengthen our coping skill muscles. The more we can get used to discomfort, the more we are able to cope with it and possibly even grow from it. How many people didn’t know how to use Zoom six months ago but are rocking it now? We are learning here people!
Now let’s learn to take the lessons from our yoga mat into our everyday. So next time you are in pigeon pose (or any posture that is not your favorite) try this. Bring all your awareness and focus right to the place in your body where you feel the uncomfortable sensation.
Lean into that sensation. Lean in to the uncomfortable. Lean in to your lived experience. Lean in to the present. Lean in to life.
Read my thoughts on yoga, teaching, parenting and everything in between. Shout out to Tiffany Stewart for help with the writing.