I am thinking that 2012 could be the year where I finally break out of some very comfortable comfort zones. Already I’m making plans to deepen my practice and enhance my teaching skills with a 500-hour teacher training (research is underway!) and get myself out there as a writer and teacher even more than I already am. I am not one to make grandiose proclamations, but for once when I start to imagine where I’d like to be, instead of allowing doubt to talk me out of what I’m thinking, I’m using my practice to get me beyond my comfort zone.
But that doesn’t come without gliding up against some very uncomfortable spaces for me. Innately, I’m a very shy and introverted person and networking, asking for advice and even saying “yes, I can do this” doesn’t always come easy. Shocking right? Considering that I put myself out there time and time again with this blog, there are still areas where I feel I stick too close to home. I do have some divine moments when things all come in alignment, but I’ve had to work through some serious “stories” to get there.
The shift for me has occurred because I no longer believe I can do the things I want to do and serve the way I need to serve if I don’t step outside of myself, or my comfort zone, a bit. That is not to say that I’m not paying attention to who I am and where I am, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. I am aware of the discomfort that arises when I start something new, but I also know what goodness lies on the other side if I just try. For example, sometimes when I go to a new studio or try a new teacher for the first time I get a little nervous and it takes a lot of self-talk and encouragement for me to go. When I get there and I start to get unsure, I tap in to my experience to remind me that I’ve done this before and everything will be okay. In the end I recognize that the feelings are temporary and if I can get myself in the new situation, relax and stay present, I’m bound to have a good time.
As this is a blog about yoga, one can also relate this thinking to their asana practice and going a little deeper in a pose. When I’m practicing, I tap into my breath to guide me to my edge. I recognize where the discomfort arises and pay attention to the “chatter and mindstuff.” Am I really pushing too hard or is that my little self telling me to back off? I’ve surprised myself time and time again during by simply holding a pose one breath longer than I expected or giving the next variation (e.g. arm balance or bind) a try and seeing, much to my astonishment, that I can go there. Playing with this edge, I can safely push myself beyond my limits and go even further and deeper than I ever imagined.
A friend and fellow yogi shared this graphic the other day and it completely hits the nail on the head.
You see, if I stay where I’m at physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I’ll still progress and continue to learn, but will I ever feel like I gave my thirst satisfactory quenching? It’s when I start to push the edges of my comfort zone and dare I say, step outside of that zone, that the things I dream of happening actually begin to evolve. What I have found is that gliding up on the edge of discomfort and learning how to safely proceed forward allows you and your practice to open up in a whole new, magical way.
Do you think you stick to your comfort zone too much? How do you push yourself beyond these boundaries? In what ways do you find your yoga practice helps you to go beyond these limits?