One of the things I often say in class when I see struggle on my student's faces as they work into a challenging asana is to try to relax and be comfortable with the temporary discomfort. Get comfortable with uncomfortable. Allow it. Welcome it.
It's one of the wonderful paradoxes in yoga ... the more we struggle against the discomfort of an asana, the harder it becomes ... by relaxing the mind, breath and body and accepting the few seconds of discomfort, that is where the magic is and where we can stretch, grow and go further.
So often I find these yoga class principles mirrored in life. When we allow ourselves a moment of pause within discomfort, we can give ourselves the opportunity to stretch and grow as people in a way we didn't anticipate.
We are so used to making an instant decision to make ourselves feel better in order to avoid experiencing discomfort - turning on the TV the second we get in to avoid feeling lonely; eating because we are feeling bored; having a wine when we have had a stressful day at work. I am not saying don't do all these things, I am just highlighting the opportunity that mental yoga gives us to pause before we grab the remote or the corkscrew and to be comfortable in that discomfort momentarily; to feel it, and to feel what we really feel. It may be that by pausing and choosing to actively be in that initial discomfort we find we are craving connection and that calling for a chat with mum will satisfy much more than the TV. That our body is not physically hungry but would actually feel better having a walk to release some tension before we sit down to eat. That we need to take action and schedule a conversation with our boss about workload rather than drowning that overwhelmed feeling in vino!
It's not necessarily easy. I struggle as much as the next person with reaching for instant comfort after a difficult day, but I am trying hard to get increasingly comfortable in the pause of discomfort so I can assess what I really feel, and try to meet that true need. It's a real life-changer and it saves on chocolate/wine and endless Facebook escapism time.
I end up with more of what I want in my life, for sure.
Next time you feel an urge to make an instant decision to escape discomfort, ask yourself two questions. What feeling am I trying to avoid feeling here? And, what do I really want to feel? Then go give yourself what you really need.
Louise is a life coach, author and corporate escapee. Visit louisethompson.com for more.