“I think I’ve learned the most when I’ve switched up and taken classes with different teachers. Even if I didn’t love the class or teacher. There’s something different and good about getting out of the comfort zone.”
I started a draft for this post over a week ago, and now as I re-read the quote (and its engendered title) above, I find it’s filled with entirely new meaning for me. I originally copied it from a text a fellow yogini friend sent me, after a class she invited me to by an instructor I had never followed before. I ended up enjoying the class, though it was generally not the type of yoga flow I like. Easy theme for a blog post, right? Comfort zones are all around us, are they not? Yet I had no idea how much I needed to re-read that quote until right now.
I should probably add, for your elucidation, that about a week ago I moved from Chicago to Denver. As in, up and left my immediate and extended familial nest, the joys and comforts of the home where I was born and raised, and moved with naught but a boy and a dog to an entirely new place. New settings to explore, new jobs for which to apply, new relationships to forge and nurture.
I started this post wanting to discuss how change is good, how it helps us to grow and thrive, even when it’s weird or intimidating or not exactly what we consider our “cup of tea” (i.e. I wanted to talk about change in your yoga class routine or flow, or change in your job or career, or change in which salon you choose to go get your hair cut… nice, familiar change – oxymoronic amIright?).
Then I got slapped in the face with the reality of this really big change, one I had known was coming, but shook me to my foundational self nonetheless. I kept uttering the (what I now see as completely hollow) words to those around me: I’m excited! It’s a new adventure! I’m going for the mountains!
Ok, that last one was, and is, still true. But in the past week I’ve run the gamut of excited, nerve-wrecked, sad, contemplative, home-sick, anxious, calm, annoyed, happy – basically every emotion but disgusted (unless you count the mild disgust with my hypocritical self). How can I go around toting the benefits of change when one simple move across the country sends me toppling from my metaphorical high horse of emotional and psychological stability? I mean, you’d think I didn’t choose to move!
But now I’m sitting here, realizing that simple changes aren’t necessarily the types of changes that truly make us grow. Yes, it is undeniably good to switch up routines once in a while – go try that new yoga class, explore a different career path, cut your hair an inch shorter for crying out loud! Little changes like that keep the day-to-day spice of life alive and well, help us nurture our creative and imaginative selves. But deep personal growth must necessarily happen at a deep personal level – sometimes through something as earth-shaking as the birth of a baby or the passing of a close friend, and sometimes through the slightly less earth-shaking event of a big move away from home. That’s the stuff that changes us, that helps create new ways we think and behave and react to the new set of challenges and routines that accompany such a big change. While it can be an awesome opportunity for growth in a positive and strengthening direction, it can also shake you to the core and leave you feeling like you have no direction at all.
Lately I’ve been feeling the latter. But, hey, writing about it here is helping me regain my feet, truly. Not everything from the past needs to be abandoned, when accepting life’s inevitable changes. I’ve forgotten to embrace the opportunities of what may be, instead focusing on the possible pitfalls of what may be. I’ve forgotten to be imaginative, and self-directive, with my own future. I’ve forgotten that no matter what life throws my way, what direction I myself may take, I am in control of my own reactions, both mental and physical. I can sit around and mourn the comforts of home I left behind, or I can rejoice at the view of the mountains outside this cafe’s window. I can (and do) choose to be happy in embracing change. I choose to smile as I step over the own boundary of my self-doubt and anxiety, up and out of the comfort zone.