Well it's been a minute. I had so much to say about this topic that I decided it needed to exist in the blogosphere. Let's unpack what it means to step out of your comfort zone. The details are different for everyone, but I think it basically means to not always default to what’s “easy”. So what’s wrong with being comfortable? Really nothing. And let's start this whole conversation by saying that if life, as it is wont to do, is pushing you into places of great discomfort, you don’t need to do anything else, you just need to hold on tight to your faith and go along for the ride. What I'm talking about here are the ways we become stagnant. Since the universe itself is in a constant state of process, if we are not participating with it in the ways that we are able to, one day we wake up and realize we’re stuck. And to get out of that stuck place takes SO much more effort in the long run.
The universe has given us endless ways to know it and experience it and explore its beauty. But it requires our participation. Stepping out of your CZ means stepping into the unknown. Whether that’s rock climbing a new route, or hiking a new mountain, or a going to a new place to vacation, or going on a silent retreat, or joining a new book club, it requires us to be vulnerable, and that is usually not a comfortable place. It takes faith. Not blind faith where we go in with eyes closed just praying for the best, but the kind where we follow our hearts and take our heads along for the ride.
The Sanskrit word for faith is shraddha, and one generally accepted translation of that word is "where you place your heart". In other words, know what you want. And if something that you want is outside of your CZ, know what you are willing to risk to have it. Know your capacities and your limitations and act accordingly. But that is a razors edge, and there’s no promise that it won’t hurt. Faith is knowing that it won’t hurt so much that you can’t come back from it. It’s being able to stay connected to what keeps you steady through it all.
Recently I watched the rock climber Adam Ondra sending Silence, the “world’s hardest route”. It literally created a new grade of climb that didn't exist before. It took him hundreds of times and years to do it. Falling off again and again. If he read all those falls as “failure” there is no way he ever would have done it. Stepping out of our CZ is accepting small “failures” to figure out how to do it better next time. Failure is a word we use to give ourselves an out. "Oh, I tried that thing and because it didn’t go exactly as I wanted it to, it didn’t feel as easy as it “should have”, I can’t do that thing." And the reality is that maybe you can’t do that thing today, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to do it. So what are the steps to take so you can do it in a year? Or 2 years? Tiny victories feed shraddha. Change your expectation of what progress is. In yoga, for example, if you can’t do the pose, examine where your inconsistencies are, your tight places, your self-limiting thoughts and decide what tiny victory you can focus on to keep moving you forward. Because that’s just it. Life will move you forward whether you participate or not. So might as well decide what direction you want to go in.
If you need some inspiration, watch Adam climb this route the whole way through for the first time.
OTG: Soften what the word failure means to you. Focus on tiny victories.
What keeps you steady in times of discomfort? Keep that in the forefront of your awareness
Let each breath guide you to a place inside of inner reliance, where you feel secure and connected to a universe that wants for you what you want for yourself
Get comfortable with “I don’t know” and “All I need to do is participate”
Stop trying to control your world and participate fully in your life without knowing what the outcome will be
ME: pull to the midline and pull into what keeps you steady
Pull up and into your faith/what keeps you steady/your heart
malleable, changeable, bones are not. We
pull SMB (skin to muscle to bone) to connect to all that is already steady inside our bodies
Activate muscles, participate in the pose fully, in your life fully
Draw SMB, connecting
to a place of wisdom inside so you make smart choices about how to safely step outside your CZ
OE: expand fully into the pose and expand your CZ
Stretch yourself fully into the pose and the breath and into active participation with your life just as it is
Expand from midline outwards, expanding your faith in yourself and your practice
Shine with the quiet radiance of the faithful
Smile and enjoy the pose, even if it’s not easy or comfortable
Celebrate whatever form of the pose you can do. Celebrate tiny victories that will strengthen you and move you in the direction you want to be headed.