Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Learning to Find Comfort in Discomfort

“Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort.” ~Peter McWilliams

When I first started my yoga practice one of the most challenging poses for me was pigeon pose. The pull in my hip was unusual and I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable.  No sharp pain or pins and needles so I knew it was safe but I didn’t like it.  When holding this pose I couldn’t think of anything other than when the teacher was going to ask us release the pose and move on to something more soothing. 

Humans tend to do funny things when we are uncomfortable, like hold our breath, tense our muscles, maybe even clench our teeth.  We focus all our energy on doing whatever it takes to get back to something comfortable.  We mentally obsess over it until the discomfort passes. 

We like to stick with things that are familiar and soothing as this is where we are most comfortable.  We like things we know how to handle, circumstances and people that are familiar and things we are good at. 

We seek out comfort in every way possible and avoid discomfort at all costs. It’s just human nature.

But real growth comes from new things, unfamiliar things, and uncomfortable things.  It is in pushing ourselves to experience new and initially uncomfortable things that we grow.  When you continually do this the things that used to be uncomfortable and unfamiliar become comfortable and familiar.  Growth!

Through yoga I have learned to slow and deepen my breathing, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable a pose is.  I have learned to be where I am, focus on the pose and not on getting out of it.  I remind myself that I am safe, this is not going to hurt me or do long term damage. Yoga has taught me to be comfortable being uncomfortable. 

It’s one of the greatest gifts yoga has brought to my life.

Now instead of dreading pigeon pose, it has become one of my favorites and I love the opportunity it brings to get comfortable, even if it is still a little uncomfortable.


  1. I love your blog. Seriously inspirational. :)

  2. Thank you so much Aubrey! I really appreciate that!

  3. I recently received a fortune in a cookie that read, "Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort". When I searched for the author of the quote, I stumbled on your blog. What a treat for me that was. :-) Your comments regarding our natural desire to seek comfort and avoid the discomfort was exactly what I needed.

  4. Awe, what a treat to hear my blog called a treat! :) Thank you for the kind comment. I means a lot to me.