Comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Last week I attended my first Buddhist group. I didn’t know what to expect, unsurprisingly. I just knew it was an area of my life I wanted to explore a little further with the hope that, maybe, it would help me understand *things* that little further.

Maybe.

I have also been desperate to establish a meditation practice to sit alongside my yoga one. Because, to me, they go hand in hand. And I can’t help but think that in that joint practice sits the key to a mindful life.

And not just talking about it. Not just writing about it. Actually living it.

The group started with some chanting. Fine, no problem. I’m a-ok with chanting from my yoga. I love the energy of it.

But then it came to the next bit and the words I had no idea would fill me with such dread.

“So now we’ll take 30 minutes of silent meditation.”

That’s right. I’d come to a Buddhist group with the sole purpose of meditating and yet the actual act of sitting cross legged with my eyes shut for longer than a few breaths made me a nervous wreck.

I know. I didn’t understand it either.

But here’s the thing. The thought of being in that silent space without any stimulants panicked me. I couldn’t help but think “Jesus, I could be using my time SO much more effectively right now” and even “well if I count X breaths in and out at a speed of Y then I should reach the 30 minute mark at Z.”

For the life of me I could not imagine how I would be able to convince my mind to take a step back for that time without it running circles around every topic under the sun.

It was anything but comfortable to me. My shoulder was causing me grief having pulled it the night before and my ankle was sitting at a funny angle. My neck felt stiff. My toes started to go dead.

So. Many. Different. Feelings. And. Sensations.

And that was all within the first 30 seconds.

It was exhausting.

Then this quiet voice in my ear.

“You’re pushing your attention on all these things because you’re scared to be alone with your own thoughts.”

And it was true. Being totally alone in the silence of my own mind terrified me. It’s for that precise reason I fall asleep with Netflix playing. Why when I find myself in a situation where I can’t nod off either with laptop at my side or a book in my hand I don’t sleep and instead the insomnia kicks in.

That huge, empty, vastness… it panics me. The nothingness? I avoid it at all costs.

Yet… it doesn’t have to be a “nothingness”, does it? Is that not the whole point of meditation? That in the “nothingness” we are able to find “something”?

“When your attention moves into the Now, there is an alertness. It is as if you were waking up from a dream, the dream of thought, the dream of past and future. Such clarity, such simplicity. No room for problem-making. Just this moment as it is.” – Eckhart Tolle

So I forced myself to be with it. To spinal breathe through the chakras and take note of the uncomfortable aches and then move on. To let my mind try to wander but trust that it would find its way back.

To be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It wasn’t easy. I can’t sit here and pretend that this sudden epiphany instantly made me a master of the big M.

But it was a process I stuck with. That I committed to.

It’s a concept I’m trying to bring into my daily life. That sense of living not in despite of any stress, difficulties or simply awkwardness… but within it. Trying not to fight it, but understand that you will grow from it.

Because, surely, if we stopped resisting the inevitable, worrying about what “could” be and instead accepted each passing moment as it was… passing, fleeting… then surely everything would be a hell of a lot easier?

Surely we would understand *things* that little further?

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4 thoughts on “Comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  1. This is why that internal chatter is called “the monkey mind”. Like a monkey swinging from one branch to another the unrelated thoughts clamor for your attention. It is very hard to reach one pointed concentration. But when you can break through amazing things happen. You get to a point where you can enter what I call “flow”. There is a knowing without knowing why. You can slip into this stream of concentration where creativity can really soar. It’s very hard to explain. I’d encourage you to persevere. There is a very old school book “Mediatation and Concentration” by Christmas Humphries you might consider. It is for the lay person and not for any specific school of Buddhism although Humphries was a Buddhist.

    He takes you through the stages of development and also provides cautionary passages about what happens as you progress. Sensitivities heighten and it is possible to pick up on another’s state of mind or emotions. This is the dangerous part of becoming so open and elevated in awareness. It’s good to prepare for that so that you don’t get side tracked when it happens.

    Humphries was also a judge in the English court system. He was a harsh judge, too. Because he sentenced many people to death his books have gotten negative reviews. It’s up to you if you want to consider his works but I think he offers a good look of the experiences such as the one you’re going through. So many new agers portray the advancement of consciousness as all sugar, light, rainbows and lollipops but it has it’s very difficult side, too.

    We have to come to term with and cast off many old modes of thinking and behavior. It’s like turning on a faucet in a house that hasn’t been used for a long time. At first the water will be dirty because the pipes are rusty. The water has to run a long time before it gets clear.

    My descriptions are inadequate but I hope they help. I stopped meditation after practicing Mahayana for two years. It became too intense and I couldn’t handle what was happening but the effects were very good. I credit Humphries for making me aware of the signs that one is going off-course.

  2. You may also want to consider a few possibilities, such as studying under a teacher so that you get an integrated approach for yoga and meditation. Yoga is part of the Hindu religion and you may garner greater benefit from taking up a form of meditation from that spiritual path. Buddhism has differences from Hinduism so you need to consider if doing yoga from an Indian tradition and then practicing meditation from a Buddhist tradition will harmonize.

    1. EmilyAnn, your beautiful comments always give me so much to think about! I appreciate you taking the time to write them so much, you truly inspire me! Thank you for the recommendations, I am going to look into all of this ❤

      1. Thank you for taking them in a spirit of open-heartedness, Amber. I have shared your journey and through your blog seen you mature. My thoughts are with you. May you find the rainbow bridge to be the road for your journey. The light will be beautiful!

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