Lately I have come to the realization that I am not living my life. In many instances, the fear or discomfort of the unknown comes up to stop me from doing various things that I know I am capable of doing. And yet, because I do not know the outcome, I end up talking myself out of it. The result of this behavior has been that over time, I have begun to shrink into myself and pull away from the world.
This revelation has led me to the development of the following mantra: “Everything I want is on the other side of this discomfort.” Like most things in life our thoughts, fears, and projections about reality are often not based upon reality but instead about conceptions we have about reality based upon past experiences.
To this end, this week, I have been teaching the following partnered activity in each of my classes. I encourage you to try it out with someone you may not know very well, or perhaps with someone who you think you know well. I promise the impact will be worth the discomfort it evokes. Try to stay for at least 5 minutes.
Stand facing one another. Stand close enough to each other that you can touch each other without causing too much discomfort. Each person will place his/her left hand over their heart and then place the palm of their right hand on the back of the other person’s left hand.
Remain still and simply look into the other persons eyes. To the best of your ability don’t talk, smile, laugh, or look away. Simply look into the other person’s eyes and breathe.
If your own internal anxiety begins to get to you, repeat to yourself: “Everything I want is on the other side of this discomfort” as you continue to breathe with, be with, your partner and your discomfort. As people, we spend so much time surrounded by people, and yet we really take the time to really look at them, to see them wholly and completely. No wonder we feel that it is rare that another person fully sees or gets us. We’re not giving them the time to see us, just as we are not taking the time to see them.
Continue to breathe with your partner for another five breaths. See if you can sync your breath with one another and let go of any urge to do anything other than being here with whatever may be coming up for you.
I think that we all spend so much time looking for the solutions to our deepest pains and sorrows. However, it seems that it is only by being present to, present with, ourselves that we can first acknowledge and then heal the wounds many of us may not have even known were present. By doing just that, by sitting with your discomfort, you will find that everything you want – your happiness, joy, connection, love, patience, gratitude, kindness, trust, generosity, and unity – are on the other side of the discomfort that highlights the longing (and absence) of these things.
When you are ready, place your right hand on top of your left, as you maintain eye contact. Bow to your partner to thank them for being in this vulnerable place with you. Stand in your own being, your own body, and your own breath. Notice what you notice.
The more we are able to see that our discomfort is not necessarily a sign that something is wrong, that something is to be avoided. Instead, the more we sit with our discomfort the more discerning we will become when that discomfort comes up to tell us that something new is happening, something that potentially is very important to us. And instead of running away from the thing, situation, or event that is associated with that discomfort, we might allow ourselves to breathe and remind ourselves that everything we want is on the other side of this discomfort.