There is little that can be done to change uncomfortable situations, especially the ones outside of ourselves. Though we try with all of our might to control or avoid them, still they come. To deal with it, some of us fight while others flight. We spend a lot of energy looking externally for something or someone to relieve the discomfort.
The wisdom of Yoga says something about this… When Discomfort shows up, it is delivering an important message from our intuitive, wise, and true Self. If avoided, ignored, or neglected Discomfort will grow, the suffering will increase, and a medley of other equally uncomfortable or unfortunate events can come together to amplify it. All of this is Discomfort saying, “Turn towards me, I need you. I have direction for you”
This message is subtle and may seem insignificant compared to the loud repetitive messages of the Ego oriented consumeristic world. Be thin, wear this, youth is God, flexibility is the point, have the right car, be the perfect family, smile, be happy, etc.
I learned how to really endure and listen when I was asked to sit in chair pose, Utkatasana for 5 minutes. Try it yourself real quick. Unclench your jaw, keep your breath flowing and easeful (no power Ujjiyi breathing here), tailbone tucked, chin draw in and spine extended…. Fingertips and crown of your head to the ceiling, tailbone down.. Your breath keeping you erect and supported. Just relax and witness.
Witnessing the discomfort that I felt in those 5 minutes enraged me. My mind went into a frenzy. I felt victimized because I didn’t deserve that, and I felt angry at the teacher for making me feel that way how dare her.
Once it was over and I fell into Savasana. I cried, I felt a huge release of tension and the surrendering of discomfort. I had never gone through discomfort before, all the way to the other side. I had never held my mind accountable to that degree. And when I did, what flowed through me after all the rigid thoughts and judgements about the discomfort, was the support of Prana (energy) that was waiting on the other side.
It felt like relief; like everything was going to be okay. I had built a bridge. Beyond the guardian we call discomfort is sweet relief. That is what is on the other side of the bridge. Our aversion to move through discomfort, victimization, anger, etc. is what keeps flow, safety, trust, relief out beyond our recall.
Discomfort often creeps in, hits hard (if we oppress it) then demands, “Sit down with me, breath, and support me. Do not neglect me, don’t turn away or numb yourself into forgetting… Sit with me.” We often do not hear the message that way. Often that moment looks like all hell has broken loose in our lives, our health, our families and friendships. Like a beautiful disaster has been orchestrated so we can have a minute for ourselves.
Why is it that we can only find these moments from hardship? I hate to say this but that is the design. Yoga is a practice designed for us to observe the patterns of “imperfection” and “distress” in our lives. The objective or dedication is to continue turning towards discomfort when it crops up rather than away from it.
The more we show up, the more willingness we will find, the easier it will be to hear the message. If you practice this Yoga earnestly and with dedication, you will discover that support will show up naturally.
I am not saying it’s easy or enjoyable or that it happens over night. It’s a lifetime practice. First, decide that you will turn towards discomfort because the more we turn towards our discomfort, the more we turn towards ourselves. Then resolve yourself to sit with it. You will find that this practice can be your homecoming rather than the source of your suffering.
As we learn to be steady and easeful in our asana the gift we are offered is a trust that relief follows. As we practice enduring discomfort and listening to its message, we will experience relief. We might even learn to Honor the Discomfort and thank it for being our Guide.