Thursday, September 12, 2013

Embrace the Discomfort

Every day that I walk to and wait for the train to work, I look forward to the few (sometimes more) glorious minutes of sitting cross legged on the storage box of the train platform. As silly as it sounds, yes, I take a certain pleasure in releasing my backpack and propping myself on top of the box. Not just to sit, but because the box slopes downward, sitting cross legged results in a fantastic hip stretch (you've gotta appreciate the simple things in life, right??). As I sat this morning, the train taking much longer than usual, a thought occurred to me. The first moments of the stretch are the most uncomfortable. The muscles are tight and they cling to the limited range of motion they've become accustomed to. Usually, during the stretch portion of a class and while training clients, I instruct individuals to "breathe through the resistance," "sink into the stretch deeper with each exhale." In general, we neglect our stretches, and set ourselves up for potential injury--as the smaller range of motion and less flexible we are, the more likely we are to hurt ourselves.

About ten minutes passed this morning while I sat on top of that box. And while other commuters checked their CTA apps and anxiously peered over the rail as if the train would magically appear, I too felt myself becoming anxious. Then I much more comfortable I was sitting cross legged. How my hips had opened up and my lower body tension had significantly decreased in the 10+ minutes I had been waiting.

Maybe it was the post-workout high from my strength session at Hard Pressed this morning. Or the after-effect of the Dunkin Donuts coffee I had consumed an hour before that caused my mind to wander. Aren't the first moments of a difficult situation typically the most uncomfortable? How many of us actually approach these difficult situations with the intention of improving them and making progress? Or do we avoid them as much as we avoid the yoga mat? Like stretching the body, the mind (and the heart) tend to give up at the first sign of resistance, tightness, and discomfort. We cling to the familiar, to the daily range of motion we have created. What would happen if we confronted that discomfort...then "breathed through the resistance," and "sunk deeper with each exhale"? Perhaps the tension would release, and our minds and hearts would open.

Resist the discomfort or embrace it. Which will you do?

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