I’m deep into my meditation practice and a thought arises. Nothing unnatural in that, but this particular thought is one that comes up almost every single day…
“How much time is left on the timer?”
I use a basic timer on my phone when I sit down to meditate. I choose a duration, and then sit until the timer sounds – no need to check on the clock to see if it’s time to get up yet.
Except after sitting for awhile, I start getting restless.
It’s time to get on with my day. There’s stuff to do, people to connect with, and problems to deal with.
Plus, this meditation practice is challenging. It forces me to be still and demands I connect with myself – including those parts of me I don’t like so much.
I’m reaching beyond the edge of what’s comfortable.
On some days I have given into the temptation. I’ve picked up my phone and checked the timer. Without fail, it almost always reads about 20 seconds. Just 20 seconds remained. “Really?” I’d wonder to myself, “Surely I could have waited those few moments longer.”
Life has a way of pushing us into moments of discomfort. Often, we don’t even have to go looking for it. It happens whether we want it to or not…
You find yourself in a conversation with that person whose belief fundamentally goes against almost everything you believe in. Both of you know it. Being with this person is the last thing you want to do right now – let alone try to talk to them.
You practice learning a new skill, and you get stuck. The skill is hard. You just can’t seem to get it right. All you want to do is stop practicing and go do something easier.
It’s easy to give in – to soothe the discomfort. But if you do, you’ll miss out.
Growth happens not in the times when things are easy, familiar, and comfortable. It happens when you remain with your discomfort. Instead of giving into the obstacle, you use it as fuel for becoming stronger, braver, and more compassionate.
Stay with that discomfort. Tell yourself to hold out for just a moment longer. You may find a breakthrough…
You keep talking to that person you disagree with only to find you have more in common than you thought. Maybe it’s a shared suffering or pain that moves you to compassion. Perhaps it’s a common hobby or interest that breaks through the barriers between you. You begin to see the person as human.
You keep practicing that skill. Suddenly everything clicks together in your mind. You can do it now. You were way closer to figuring it out than you had thought.
Remaining in that discomfort may pay off.
This time, I choose to ignore the temptation to look at the timer. “I can wait a moment more,” I tell myself. I decide to build my tolerance to discomfort and make my practice stronger.
And as if on cue, the timer sounds.