I’m in the discomfort zone. The area beyond my comfort. Even the word discomfort makes you squirm a bit, it has such negative connotations. I’ve been feeling my discomfort all week as I prepare for the ‘Speaking Out’ course which I mentioned in last week’s blog. It is now upon me, and I still have the strong urge to run away! In this challenging place, this lonely, chilly and often dark place (it being November it seems to be mirroring my feelings) what could it look like if we stay right where we are and explore our discomfort instead?
I have had much discomfort to be with this year with two slipped discs in my neck, and at its worst lying on my back for 6 months in chronic pain not even able to lift a book. Not just the physical discomfort but the emotional pain too of not being able to do the things I love or to be the mum I wish to be to my children - the fear that life was going on without me. My first reaction was a well trodden path of either pushing it away and not wanting to accept it or feeling overwhelmed by it. Eventually, through really having no choice I learnt to be with it, listen to it and look at it even for the briefest of moments to start with. Over time I found that these periods lengthened. Not only that but by taking this wilder middle path between running and drowning, I found gifts hidden there, learning so much about myself and growing as a person. It was as if I went down untrodden paths into the darkest of mines and came back with precious stones.
In this way, I now try to inhabit as many moments as I can each day, be they ‘good’ ones or ‘or not so good ones’, I try not to label them. The present moment is the only time we can actually act in. Fear is always about the future, so by staying and tuning into the present moment can be incredibly helpful in letting it be, allowing yourself to feel it and find out the bigger message that it has for you. Fear reminds us we are alive, to live life more fully and that we have good work to do. My life is in my hands.
Something that has softened the whole process of feeling my discomfort, and has supported me to be in the moment, has been awe inspiring nature. This week I have been treated to a spectacular red sunrise that I couldn’t take my eyes from; the awesome, enormous full moon this weekend; and the mind blowing, ever changing beauty of a starling murmuration. As Florence Williams says in her book ‘Nature Fix’, “naturalistic outdoor environments remain some of the only places where we can fully engage all 5 of our senses, and thus by definition are fully physically alive.” I have carried my discomfort from the world and taken it to the woods, washed it in the streams and the sea, turned it over and explored what lies on the other side of that discomfort. So settling and reassuring.
I’m putting a stake in the sand and saying yes to feeling everything, feeling truly alive in this moment, whatever this moment brings. I’m not going to run away.
As I start this course, I am endeavouring to do what Lisa Feldman Barrett recommends:
"Get your butterflies to fly in formation."
This blog post is inspired by Sarah Blondin, Jamie Catto and Richard Louv - thank you for your inspiration.
In addition, extreme gratitude to nature and all of her gifts. Clare x
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