“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Monday, October 26, 2009

Entering the Discomfort Zone

Many of us have developed routines in our lives and a typical day might sound like this for some: we get up, get ready for work, send the kids off to school, spend the day at work, exercise, head home, have dinner, watch TV and finally prepare for the following day. For some things, a consistent schedule is good. For example, setting a specific workout schedule everyday makes good sense because it helps to instill the habit of taking care of ourselves physically and mentally and our health, without a doubt, the sets the stage for how we perform with every other facet of our lives.

What is common, though, is that it’s this same routine, day in and day out that often stifles us, makes us feel unfulfilled and creates the strong impression that something’s missing. We live our lives in autopilot in the comfort zone. I for one have my moments and days in this mode like anyone else. But they do little to advance my personal growth and they certainly don’t make me feel alive. Papa Wallenda said, “Life is lived out on the wire, the rest is just waiting.” What he’s saying is that it’s when we are challenged, scared, buzzing with excitement and anticipation that we enjoy life and the more we look for these opportunities, the less our lives will feel routine.

With our busy schedules during the week, plunging into something daring or exhilarating may seem unrealistic, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be anything that will lead us into our discomfort zones, such as introducing ourselves to someone new at work that we look up to, or taking a class to explore a new hobby, or trying a new restaurant. Anything, however insignificant it may seem, that can get the heart pumping, wake up our brains, or even make us feel slightly off balance will do the trick. Over the weekend, I participated in something that, for me, accomplished those things and so many more. I competed in the NY Regional/Tristate Yoga Asana Championship in New York City. You can see some of the event here:

This entire day took me out of my comfort zone on so many levels. For example, I took a class in NYC before the competition at a studio where I’ve never practiced before. That in itself would get the blood pumping. But more dramatically, it was the first time I’ve ever performed anything athletic alone on stage. Except for giving talks, the last time I performed solo in front of an audience was in sixth grade at a school concert, singing “Let Me Be There”, by Olivia Newton John and I don’t have that on video : ) But thinking back to that night, it was one of the most fun and rewarding times of my life. Other challenges to this past weekend: I knew I would be competing with women who had been here many times before, who had been training for much longer than me and whose yoga practices were far more advanced than mine. I was floored and inspired by their abilities. Just look at the woman below who took first place!

So knowing all of this, when I decided to enter this competition, I took it as a personal challenge to do my best and to have fun and that’s what I did. Despite the butterflies and the extreme talent around me, I was able to have fun and feel a very strong sense of accomplishment when it was over and I wouldn’t want to change any of it.

Another gift from this event was the support and encouragement from everyone: the other competitors, judges and organizers, the audience, and especially my friends who came to NYC to watch the event and cheer us on. And my willingness to take the risk in the competition has inspired some of them to enter the competition next year.

Whatever the outcome would have been, my courage to take a chance was the most significant lesson and triumph for me here because it gave me the confidence to believe that if I could do this, there’s no telling what I can accomplish!!! So challenge yourself; step into your discomfort zone and live…

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