MavK

Art and Creativity Coaching Articles

Are you a comfort junkie?

This post first appeared on the Huffington Post Contributor Platform.

Are you a comfort junkie?

Would you say you live a comfortable life? How would you define comfort? Is it about meeting your basic needs – food, safety and shelter – or is it about something more, an indefinable luxury or standard that you feel you have to have? Is comfort a human right?

Some might say that life is difficult enough without making it harder for ourselves! … so a certain degree of self-indulgence is just a way of coping with modern living.

We are encouraged from the cradle to the grave, and urged from every media outlet, to create a life of comfort marked predominantly by the right possessions that smooth over the lumps and bumps of everyday living. Some might say that life is difficult enough without making it harder for ourselves! And so a certain degree of self-indulgence is just a way of coping with modern living. But perhaps what started out as a convenience is turning slowly into a compulsive hang-up; namely, to avoid discomfort at every opportunity. The marketing world is built upon the premise that it is our right to have a more comfortable and easier life, and they have the products and services to sell us to make this possible!

…we become calmed and sedated into a self-indulgent state of “inner peace”.

In spite of living in a society geared towards us achieving ease and comfort, more and more people are complaining of a lack of fulfilment and a sense of internal poverty. But even then, we try to chase away this mental, emotional and spiritual discomfort with New Age accessories and accoutrements (for a price!) which promise to bring us peace and enlightenment. Gradually we become calmed and sedated into a self-indulgent state of “inner peace”. Understandably, we use these comforting tools and techniques as barriers and buffers to protect us from the assault of life’s circumstances and events which can range from challenging to devastating. Life is hard!

…it’s a fairground ride that is very difficult to get off.

But what if instead of avoidance of fear and pain, we turned to embrace the dis-comfort? Would our world fall apart and collapse into irreconcilable pieces? Even just the thought of sitting with unease and discomfort can be massively threatening, which in turn may lead to a knee-jerk self-comforting response, such as purchasing possessions we do not really need, or eating food beyond our point of satiation, or having that “well-deserved” drink (or >insert drug of choice<).

The pursuit of comfort continues and “discomfort” remains a dirty word.

Because we are never taught the limitations of comfort, we are launched on a downward spiral from our earliest days, and it’s a fairground ride that is very difficult to get off. After all, why would we want to get off the ride? We are taught that this is the place to be and chasing the nirvana of perpetual comfort is our life goal and a race against those around us; “keeping up with the Joneses” is all about ensuring that we are at least as comfortable as our neighbours. But where does it stop? Does it stop when we are in debt from buying things we do not need and cannot afford? Does it stop when we have an uncontrollable drinking habit? Does it stop when we are obese? Does it stop when we are isolated from human company because we have become so focused on the ease that technology and virtual living provide us?

Before you can harness and ride the horses of fear and dread, steering them towards a more sincere and genuine human experience, you need to learn to sit with the worst feelings…

Sadly, for most people it doesn’t stop there. The pursuit of comfort continues and “discomfort” remains a dirty word. But maybe you are ready to recognise the artificiality of the “comfort matrix”. Perhaps you realise that spiritual fulfilment does not come from sedating yourself into a state of “peacefulness” [TWEET THIS]. What can you do and where can you start? How do you get off the ride? The very first practice that I would advise you to cultivate is one of mindfulness. I cannot emphasise enough how useful this is in reconnecting with the full range of human emotions. Before you can harness and ride the horses of fear and dread, steering them towards a more sincere and genuine human experience, you need to learn to sit with the worst feelings (and the best) without running away from them or forcing them to change.

Exercise:

Find a quiet place to sit where you will not be disturbed. Make sure that you are positioned in such a way that you will not be distracted by twisted clothing or cramped muscles. Remove your shoes. I would suggest attempting this for five minutes to start with, building up to half an hour or an hour over several weeks.

  • Rest your hands in your lap or on your thighs, and close your eyes.
  • With your lips resting lightly against each other, breathe gently through your nose.
  • In order to prepare your mind, practice progressive relaxation by starting at your toes and working your way up your body, relaxing every muscle and joint. If you find this difficult to do, just think relaxation AT the particular body part and imagine that it is relaxed; over time your body will respond and by the time you reach your head you will have relaxed enough for your mind to turn inwards.
  • Now it is time to wait: wait to see what emotions arise in your mind and body, identify them, give them a name, but do not avoid them or replace them.
  • Do not be frightened. Every emotion is fleeting and will pass.
  • When your set time has passed, rub the palms of your hands together and place them over your eyes for a moment, before coming back to consciousness.
  • I would also advise that you rub the soles of your feet on the floor in order to ground yourself back in your body as doing this kind of emotional work can leave you feeling a little detached afterwards.

You have just begun your journey in becoming a Fear Artist.

©Mav Kühn 2016

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6 comments on “Are you a comfort junkie?

  1. Martijn van der Zon
    May 22, 2016

    I loved your article and I would like to add my twopence’s worth.

    A good step towards getting in touch with our deepest selves is restoring the deeper connection with our body. The mind will try to interfere. Let it, but avoid interfering with the mind, because that is like the snake biting its own tail. The minds is a fountain of thoughts and feelings. Observe that fountain for its magnificence, but try to avoid getting wet in its “waters”.

    Like

    • Mav Kühn
      May 23, 2016

      Thanks, Martijn! Yes, you reflect my own thinking – I have written extensively on the subject of reconnecting with the body’s voice in order to harmonise and focus intent. I love your analogies! 🙂

      Like

  2. This is a great point of view. We DO expect miracles and for all of the uncomfortable things we experience to go away. It just doesn’t. Learning to live with the fear (Fear Artist) is the only way. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, we’re taught that there are quick fixes and that we can be free of uncomfortableness once and for all. Great reminder that we have to walk with fear…that it will always be there…but it can be managed. 🙂

    Like

    • Mav Kühn
      May 25, 2016

      What a beautiful summary of the article, Joleene! I should employ you to write my blurbs 😉 Glad that you enjoyed it! ❤

      Like

  3. revengestar
    June 2, 2016

    *instant gratification slave*
    *walks away from blog in deep shame*

    Like

    • Mav Kühn
      June 2, 2016

      Haha! The best response!! Thanks for giving me a laugh at the beginning of my day 😉

      Like

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