Jumping Out Of The Comfort Zone

 Change is inevitable, simply because nothing lasts forever. An ice-cream, a headache, a holiday, an exam – whatever it is, it will be over sooner or later. This can sometimes be difficult to accept, how can you enjoy your ice-cream when each bite is taking you one step closer to that terrifying state of not having an ice-cream? In fact Buddhists believe that the reason us human beings spend so much time complaining is due to our inability to accept change. We cling on to things as if they are permanent then get upset when they are gone, but in the great karmic-sale, everything must go! Even that beautiful body you are sitting in, sooner or later is going to be nothing more than a tasty meal for some worms. But let’s not get morbid! Assuming you are going to be spending at least a little more time in this wonderful, yet often infuriating realm, how can you learn to deal with the ever-changing nature of things?

One way to embrace change is to get ahead of the game by, instead of waiting for change to happen, actively bring it into your life. This is not necessarily a frightening prospect, if we are honest most of us will probably have a whole bunch of things about our lives that we want to change. The problem is the dreaded comfort zone, that most miserable of prisons where 99% of humanity spend 99% of their precious lives languishing. The comfort zone is like a grey bubble where everything is just about “OK”, sometimes a little better (we go to a party, “woooo!!!”) sometimes a little worse (a stressful day at work, “nooooo!!!”). Occasionally something may burst the bubble and we find ourselves out of inadvertently out of the comfort zone. It could be a new job, a difficult life event, or anything that disrupts the daily routine. However sooner or later we adjust to the new circumstance and get right back in that bubble, with all our energy consumed by the endless task of keeping things “OK”. The trouble is, the comfort zone is actually quite a depressing place to be – how can you feel truly fulfilled when every day is pretty much the same and everything is just about “OK”? If we are really going to find satisfaction, instead of waiting to be kicked out the comfort zone, we need to willingly exit.

Outside the comfort zone, the ground can be quite shaky, and that’s why so many of us are so quick to jump back in it. However if you can stomach a little uncertainty, you will find things are much nicer here: instead of going slowly round in small circles in your grey bubble, you are now flying through the multi-coloured, living, breathing world of change!

From Reasons To Results

So once you realise the comfort zone is actually not so comfortable after all (more like a false-comfort zone!) you may want to make some big changes to your life. Perhaps staring at excel spreadsheets in a dingy office for 9 hours a day was not what you dreamed about as a kid, or your body is starting to resemble a misshapen jelly through lack of exercise. So you decide to do something new: start that business you have been boring everybody to death talking about for years, or get out that dusty Yoga mat and start a proper routine. But it isn’t so easy, you hesitate. Before you can proceed on the path to fulfilment, freedom, and fun, you have to overcome that most formidable of foes – the mind!

The human mind, being the most powerful creative tool in the known universe, is perfect for generating a practically infinite number of excuses. “I’m too out of shape to practice Yoga”, “I’ve left it too late” “I’m not experienced enough to start a business”, “Actually my spirit-crushing, soul destroying nightmare of a job isn’t so bad at all”…. Suddenly there are a million good reasons to stay in the grey bubble where things may be totally boring, but at least you are “OK”. Whenever there is the prospect of leaving the comfort zone, there will be some fear because we are afraid of change. If you are not careful your trusty mind will turn this fear into a million reasons not to do whatever it is.

The good news is that we do not have to listen to the excuses. Anybody who has practiced meditation will have learnt that about 99% our thoughts are pretty much useless – just a bunch of recycled drama like a bad soap opera (it’s addictive, but you know it isn’t good for you!). However we can switch it off or change the channel to something more interesting.

Sometimes it can seem that the spiritual path sees the mind as the bad guy who must be defeated, but it isn’t quite like that. It is more like the mind is something we need to tame, so that it works for us instead of generating lame excuses. Meditation and Yoga will help with this, as will simply acting in-spite of any negative chatter from the mind. It will soon learn to get in line and let you get on with your new exciting life outside the comfort zone. Instead of reasons, we will have results.

Good Intentions

One good way to get outside the comfort zone is to set a strong intention for whatever change it is you want to make. “I will become fit and healthy”, “I will start a new business teaching penguins how to juggle” (or whatever it is your passion is). If you really set this intention, you will be amazed at how the Universe starts to pull you toward it. If this sounds too much like new age-bullshit, then just suspend your disbelief and try it. The world is a lot more magical than our grey-bubble-loving society has lead you to believe.

While the attention should be strong and passionate, it is important not to get totally attached to it. If it becomes an obsession you may actually block yourself – stalking somebody will not likely result in a date. Also the Universe may steer you in a slightly different direction than you originally attended so, like all good Yogis, you need to be flexible.

Enjoy The Ride

Change is not something we need to fear and even if we do fear it, it won’t help because change is going to happen anyway! Accepting that change is inevitable can help us lose our fear of change, and by actively embracing it we can say goodbye to the grey bubble that the “normal” people call home. Life outside the comfort zone is unpredictable, sometimes scary, but ultimately fulfilling. While we are looking for results, it is important to remember that the journey itself is really the interesting part. Once you are out of the grey bubble, a million things can happen, and all of these things will teach you something about yourself. As anybody who knows anything will tell you, knowing the self is the core of everything!

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