MOVING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
As we get older and morph into old grannies we develop habits and routines. We can tend to do the same thing day in day out. We’ve conquered our own particular way of doing something and continue to do it that way because “we’ve always done it like that”. It is easier to stick to what we know, what we are used to. Change can petrify people. The unknown can petrify people. The brain uses less energy when it sticks to a routine. It becomes lazy. By staying within its comfort zone it means few less unpleasant surprises. However, when things do not go according to plan we can experience great amounts of unhappiness.
How do we prepare for the unexpected?
Building up resilience! Deliberately get out of your comfort zone and prepare yourself for the unexpected. Allow yourself to become more adaptable to change. Build up your tolerance levels by practising small inconsequential things.
This exercise asked me to make a list of things I always do the same way:
- I always have a coffee first thing in the morning.
- I always check the train and bus times a million times before it is due.
- I always check all social media apps before I go to sleep and when I wake up.
- I always sleep on my stomach.
Then I had to choose one thing to do differently each day. I chose not to have my morning coffee first thing when I woke up. I approached it with a ‘beginners mind’ and allowed myself to be ‘curious’ throughout the experiment. These are two very important attitudes to attain to improve your mindfulness practice. We spoke about these in more detail in ‘Week 3: Cultivating the Attitudes’.
What did you notice that arising before?
Thoughts: I am going to fall asleep on the train to work. I will not be able to function. I can just imagine how irritable I am going to be.
Emotions: I feel tired already. Irritable.
Felt sensations in the body: Heaviness in my chest.
What did you notice arising during?
Thoughts: Ok, I’m still awake. I can make it to work. Its not the end of the world.
Emotions: I feel tired. I feel anxious. I feel asleep (is that even an emotion?).
Felt sensations in the body: Headache
What did you notice arising after?
Thoughts: I didn’t fall asleep. It wasn’t actually that bad. I completely over-rely on coffee. I need to change my morning habit to something less addictive. Maybe I can get my caffeine buzz from a healthier green tea? I think I still need coffee though? I am an addict.
Emotions: I feel tired and sleepy. I miss coffee. I feel sad.
Felt sensations in the body: My body is a bit drained.
The book recommends using your breath to keep you anchored during this exercise. I thought I would be a bit of a drama queen if I started to do deep breathing exercises because I missed my coffee. BUT I DID. I ❤ COFFEE. OK, so my experiment was not extremely ‘out of my comfort zone’ but it did bring up some nasty feelings and made me become more aware of my over reliance on coffee. Am I addicted to coffee or am I addicted to the routine? I was certainly out of my comfort zone sitting on that train, day dreaming about coffee beans. I felt anxious and uneasy. Usually I am quite content on the train to work. My poor brain is usually slowly sipping my coffee mug day dreaming about nothing. But there it was on overdrive having unnecessary nightmares about coffee. Maybe next time I’ll do something a bit more spontaneous like walk to work instead of getting the train? Confuse my little brain up completely.