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Dangerously Comfortable

Posted in: Blog by admin on November 3, 2010

After many months away from a yoga studio, I went back this morning for a class.  I would not have gone had my friend not called me to join her.  And, now, after a balancing, rejuvenating 75 minutes of practice, I am wondering why I stayed away for so long.  I had been practicing regularly for years, and when my favorite yoga instructor moved to New York, I didn’t bother finding another.  I just stopped going and started walking more instead.  I had been in the habit of going to his class, and when the simplicity of that shifted, so did my commitment.

Habits seem to be more of a controlling, determining force in our lives than we realize.  I used to always go to class with my friend Carrie.  She has continued to go (in my absence) and even just told me the other day that she feels lost and simply not right when there is a day wherein she skips her practice.  Is that because her body is now so used to the daily act, or is her mind so committed to it that it feels off without it?  Or, is it simply a habit to which her mind and body have joyfully become accustomed?

We fall so quickly and easily in and out of routines.  The habits are formed, many times without us even knowing it.  I, for one, was not aware that I was breaking the habit of going to class.  I just stopped because it was easy to do so, and the weeks without it began to compile.  And, until today, I forgot how much I loved it — the feeling of balance, the quiet, the breathing.  Now, I’m wondering:  When do we step back and address our habits?  When do we really look at our routines and analytically determine their value for us?  I suppose for many we only do so if our habits become unhealthy or an addiction is formed.  We do so when we want to make a change.

But, there is a whole world existing in between forming a routine and wanting to change a habit.  There is our life therein.  Think about what you do on a daily basis.  Maybe you have to drink coffee every day.  How did you get to that now-required routine?  Why do you need it?  Do you really enjoy it?  Those are questions regarding some of our simple customs.  And then there are the more complex, psychologically-driven ones, such as the ways in which we are accustomed to being treated, for example.  Our patterns in romantic relationships inevitably lead to our definition of love and connection.  What we want from a partner often has a lot to do with what we saw our parents getting from one another (or not getting) and what we have experienced in our own previous relationships.  But, is that really what we want and what will make us happy?  Or is it simply our compulsion because it’s familiar?  What is familiar feels so comfortable and, thus, oftentimes so right.

Ironically, today I came across this quote by a mystic named Khalil Gibran:

“The lust for comfort murders the passions of the soul.”

I love this quote.  And, it’s a turn on the road from what I was just previously talking about; however, it adds to my strong belief that we dangerously allow ourselves to live our habit-filled lives without questioning our routines or pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones.

If you read the book Into the Wild or saw the movie, then you know that the young man (Christopher McCandless) who went to live in the wilderness, away from all societal comforts was certainly overflowing with a passionate soul.  He stunned many of us with his abounding courage:  He gave up all of his money, the presence of friends and family, all ties to society.  And, he ventured off, just with his authentic self.

I remember listening to an interview with Sean Penn in which he discussed his desire to produce this film and share McCandless’ story with the world.  Penn said that we have all become addicted to comfort and that many of us conform to the system, unlike McCandless who chose to live within his own truth, on his own terms.

That phrase “addicted to comfort” has stuck with me.  I flow in and out of remembering its importance.  There are many days in which I push myself and challenge myself and take on something that isn’t natural for me.  When I chose to venture to the desert alone for a weekend music festival, that was not my norm.  But, by looking discomfort directly in the eye, I actually gained more calm within myself.

I can’t remember how this saying goes:  Is it “familiarity breeds comfort” or “familiarity breeds contempt?”  I could argue that both hold true.  We are so comfortable with the familiar.  But, then again, if we have just fallen unknowingly into familiar patterns, it is likely that we will have to challenge that reality at some point or that reality could become something that we grow to resent, especially if it was not consciously chosen.

So, with all of that, I will take my already-sore body back to a yoga studio again quite soon.  I will not simply fall into a comfortable pattern of going, but I will purposefully remember that feeling of balance and quiet that I experienced this morning, and that will ensure my continued practice.

Beyond the studio, I am reminded of McCandless and his bravery and his commitment to his authentic self.  And, what Gibran said about our lust for comfort will continue to echo throughout me as I remember to step outside of what is familiar, to check the patterns and habits I have formed in my life and to take small steps into the beautiful, unknown, mysterious wild.

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4 Responses to “Dangerously Comfortable”

  1. Jenny says:

    Fabulous! Love you!

  2. Sue love says:

    Amen sister! So true. Xo

  3. mitzi jacobs says:

    great work, Amy! Loved reading your thoughts!! Just got to Florida, keep in touch!

  4. Deni says:

    Finally, I am here reading, and I love this one – thanks for reminding me to at the least considering stepping outside of my routines. Love you!

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