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  • Writer's pictureErin Johnson

Finding Comfort in Discomfort

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

"In giving birth to our babies, we may find that we give birth to new possibilities within ourselves." – Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Before we became mothers, many of us believed being a mom comes so naturally to women so that -- even when we struggle -- our instinct would eventually kick in, and our love would overcome any discomfort we face. As a result, we would be able to joyfully navigate through the thick and thin of it.

And, though most of us mothers have a profound love for our babies, the truth is that becoming a mom rips our identity apart. It can make us question everything. You might not recognize yourself anymore, and your self-confidence can feel nonexistent and broken into a million pieces without knowing how to put them back together. When this happens, we suffer through our discomfort.

Motherhood can often feel overwhelming, impossible, and isolating within its ever-changing landscape. It is often incredibly uncomfortable. As human beings, it is our natural instinct to seek comfort. We want to be in control of our lives and our minds and find a place of peace and stability. And yet, the more we seek comfort, the more uncomfortable it becomes.

Last month, I attended a 10-day Vipassana retreat. In the simplest of terms, Vipassana is a form of meditation that encourages us to observe our thoughts and feelings with equanimity. The word ‘retreat’ is misleading because it was challenging to sit both physically and emotionally for 11 hours a day. And yet, what I learned was the only way to achieve true comfort is by reaching a level of mind where we can be comfortable with discomfort because life presents inevitable discomfort on a daily basis. Through understanding this truth and embracing it as part of life’s journey, we can find something more fulfilling than comfort - inner peace.

At the heart of Buddhist teachings are the Four Noble Truths. These four truths provide an outline for how to live a meaningful life filled with joy and contentment.

Understanding Discomfort and Pain

The first noble truth states that discomfort and pain exist and that we must accept that reality in order to move through our lives with grace and ease. It is not personal; it's universal. We all experience it at some point or another, no matter who we are or where we come from. Knowing this can help us to better understand our own experiences of suffering and how we can move forward from them.

Identifying The Cause of Our Suffering

The second noble truth tells us that suffering arises from attachment or clinging - whether it's clinging to physical objects, people, or our own ideas of how things should be. We must look deep within ourselves to identify the root cause of our pain, which typically comes down to three things; grasping for comfort, aversion, and delusion. These three states are the root cause of all unhealthy emotions and behaviors, such as jealousy, anxiety, hatred, addiction, possessiveness, and shamelessness – all of which contribute to individual and global suffering.

Letting Go & Finding Peace

The third noble truth teaches us that when we let go of these attachments, suffering will cease. Only then are we able to experience true peace and freedom from within ourselves wherever we are -- here and now -- by neither grasping nor resisting life. Pain is inevitable; Suffering is not. This helps us establish integrity, learn how to quiet the mind, see with clarity and ultimately practice wakefulness & freedom in the midst of both joys & sorrows alike.

Practicing Letting Go

Finally, the fourth noble truth teaches us how to practice letting go - through mindfulness practices such as meditation, which allow us to cultivate awareness around our thoughts and feelings so that we can make conscious choices about how we respond in any given moment.

This process takes practice and dedication, but with consistency and time, you will be able to navigate any uncomfortable situation more confidently and effectively, and you can begin training your mind towards a more peaceful state where discomfort isn't something feared but rather embraced as just another thought or emotion that comes along with life's journey.

Ultimately, motherhood is an incredible journey that involves learning how to let go of what no longer serves us and welcomes a place of peace in our lives. It's a process of reawakening and transformation, inviting us to redefine our identity and reclaim our true power – to become the best version of ourselves so that we can serve as an example for our children.

We can embrace this opportunity with strength, courage, and openness, allowing it to be both difficult and rewarding in equal measure. By learning the sweet lessons motherhood has to offer us – being brave enough to take this path – we become more fulfilled women, more fulfilled mothers, and more enlightened human beings primed to give strength, compassion & inspiration to all those around us.

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If you’re curious about how I've used meditation and the transformative process to continue reinventing myself, read these articles:

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