Our culture is obsessed with comfort. Collectively we have been coddled by modernity. We want more legroom, softer mattresses, and any vehicle that will save us from physically moving our bodies. Get in a time machine and travel to any generation before us and you'll be the softest, most sensitive soul around. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors, whose genes we still carry, would be stunned. Perhaps they are stunned inside of us at this very moment.
Suffering, inconvenience, and exertion are part of life. Just like one must experience heartbreak to get love, and betrayal to grasp trust; we must truly learn how to hold suffering to appreciate its absence: the sweet state of being at ease.
There is also a life principle at work. Accomplishing the best stuff involves pushing past challenges and imagined limitations. To become a better person one must take the Hero's Journey, walk into the dark cave, and face some tough things. If we don't learn how to frame hardship properly on the front side of life, it will find us truly unprepared on the backside.
The easiest realm in which to learn the virtue of suffering is in the physical. For that reason I organize Tuesday Trail Runs. Once a week we interval run up a small mountain in about 7 stages. The idea is to complete each segment with almost nothing in the tank and RPMs hovering at the edge of the red zone. Often I'll cry out in relief at the breaks as the powerful sensation of exertion giving way to rest floods my body. The more tension I hold on the segment, the more powerful the wave of glorious release.
On the trail the mechanisms of the self defeating mind get real clear. The first ascent triggers a cacophony of arguments to quit or walk. I treat this first chunk as chance to watch the modern mind's resistance to exertion. It's a phenomenal exposé of excuses.
On the second segment I cycle through empowering narratives to replace the weak ones.
For all other segments I settle on the technique that works best: Mindfulness and presence.
Hardship is a fascinating state that most of us work so hard to avoid. I encourage you to start a practice where you can hold and examine it. You'll find that what you were afraid of isn't so bad. It isn't bad at all. There is a side of you to explore there.
If you find yourself in LA, join me on my trail runs
5/15/2019 01:02:47 pm
I feel you! I live for discomfort, it keeps me on my toes and builds my inner strength and self. It puts me into a mindset of deep exploration.
10/21/2019 12:57:25 am
Hey Helen! Thanks for throwing in your 2 cents. I like the way you describe discomfort as putting you into a mindset of "deep exploration." There is definitely an inner landscape that we often fail to know because of the confines of comfort. Whether socially, intellectually, or physically it's healthy to push those boundaries.
5/25/2019 09:50:02 am
Hardship is part of all the processes we try to deal with on an everyday basis. I guess, that is something that people should understand. If we will never experience any hardship in life, we wouldn't know how a good day feels like! That's why there should be a part of you who will always be willing to embrace hardships and difficulties in life because that will most likely determine the person that you try to become!
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