I’ve noticed a lot more talk recently about being in your “comfort zone” or stepping out of your “comfort zone.” I have begun to wonder if there really is such a place. The intention behind the phrase seems to be a place that is easy, comfortable and where you are not stressed more than you can handle (whatever that means). A place where you have the skills to meet what is asked of you or perhaps nothing challenging is asked of you. A place of familiarity that keeps you safe in some way. Having so many ways to describe it, I admit I do know what it feels like.
Which brings me to understand it more as a feeling part of myself. It may also be a place of numbness, grief or fear. “Comfort zone” has often more to do with the relationship with what lies at its borders. It isn’t necessarily a happy or contented place. It depends on what keeps you there. There might be a longing to move beyond the edges of this place even while appreciating the sense of safety you experience there.
Could the more important question be, “How does your comfort zone serve you?”
Is it a place of retreat? Or a launching pad – the secure ground that propels you forward into the unknown? Perhaps it’s both. It’s important to have access to a part of ourselves that feels safe, but it doesn’t need to be a static place. It can shift and move – it can be carried with us as we take the next steps we need to take.
I find that the more I move beyond the edge of what feels comfortable for me, the more I experience the edge of that zone extending to meet me where I am. Like having clothing that moves with you rather than binds. I believe that living at this edge is possible if one has a practice that supports you there. It might be mindfulness meditation or whatever tools you have to help create moments of nonjudgmental awareness, compassion and equanimity. That may seem a tall order but essentially, it’s not that much more than an open, expanded “you.” This opening is what enables us to meet what lies ahead with the fullness of who we are, no holding back. It’s the voice inside that says, “You can so do this!”