Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

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Happy Monday, folks!

My day started out quietly productive.  I got up extra early to get lunches packed and the kids ready to leave the house by 7:00 a.m.  We were picking up Sienna’s best buddy on the way to school since they had an early field trip departure.  A relatively calm morning transitioned into utter chaos and frustration when Sienna announced that she had syrup in her hair, just as Teo decided his sweatshirt felt funny and obviously the only possible solution was to throw a hysterical fit until his mother tugged it off him.

As I washed syrup out of Sienna’s hair in the bathroom sink with Teo standing two feet away in a full on tantrum, the phone rang and I knew it was my friend confirming we were indeed on our way to pick up her daughter for school, the urge to yell and release my frustration was high.  Instead, I took a long, deep breath.  I turned to Teo and helped him pull his sweatshirt off and assertively told him to go get one of his blue jackets from his bedroom.  I focused all my attention on getting Sienna’s hair cleaned and relatively dry.  We got out the door, picked up Mia and got the girls to school right on time.

Reflecting back on that moment, it was a great example of how we can consciously control actions, even in highly emotional states.  The thoughts swirling in my mind weren’t helpful as I thought “I was prepared.  I didn’t cause this.  Why can’t you guys just do what I ask??”  Fortunately, my next thought was: “This moment is as it is.”  Then, a deep, cleansing breath gave me a moment to consider what I could do to helpfully move us toward the goal of getting out the door.

So many of the mindfulness tools and tricks that I’ve practiced boil down to being present, accepting the moment as it is, and then making a conscious choice on what to do in that moment.

It’s pretty amazing the peace that comes from not trying to control the current or future moments.  Observing my thoughts and feelings ebb and flow over days, weeks, months, and now years, it’s incredible to note how habitual and unhelpful thoughts can be.  Often they tell us that the present moment is inadequate or wrong because it’s not going the way we think it should.  Or, we’re planning in order to hopefully avoid an unpleasant moment in the future.

mindfulAnother current example… I’ve been trying to eat more mindfully and transition from mini-meals to three square meals a day.  I’ve also been doing strict paleo recently, including no grains, dairy, sweeteners, alcohol, beans, etc.  There are moments in the day where my mind tells me I’m hungry.  Certainly there are times when I need to give in to my body and eat!  But, I don’t have to eat the very first moment that hunger crosses my mind.  I’m practicing sitting with the feelings and trying to get in touch with true hunger versus boredom, procrastination, or other feelings that I may try to placate with eating.  I used to eat a mid-morning or afternoon snack, because I was warding off the hunger that I “knew” would come if I waited from my next meal.  A couple months ago, I realized that I didn’t know what real hunger felt like!  When you switch to eating when you’re hungry, it’s amazing how good healthy food tastes!

I have found that getting comfortable with discomfort, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental, is very helpful for mindfulness, and for life.

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