Sit with the discomfort.

Often during yoga, the teacher will talk about “sighing something away” or “letting something go” when we’re in the midst of a challenging pose.

And I have no trouble thinking of something I’d like to not be worrying about. But I can only rarely visualize letting it go, or sighing it anywhere except right back into my head, just where it was.

Today she said that one of the founders of the kind of yoga we’re doing says that part of the point of doing it is to “sit with the discomfort.”

That, while still challenging, actually seemed much more doable.

I wasn’t trying to banish anything forever. I was just putting my body into a particular shape and staying in it until she told us to transition.

And I began to think about what it means to “sit with the discomfort” when we write.

It’s often literally sitting, sitting with the computer, or the notebook, or into space, when nothing will cohere, coalesce, or achieve coherence.

The discomfort can be decision fatigue, when you’ve figured out the mechanics of several scenes and you know these characters have to do SOMETHING ELSE AFTER ALL THAT but you have no idea what it might be.

Or you know what it has to be eventually, but they’re only at Point B and they need to get to Point X.



Of course, no teacher is going to appear to tell you it’s time to transition.

But sometimes if you sit with the discomfort long enough, something opens up, and you know where to go next.

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  • Dawn
    April 4, 2013 at 11:01 am

    In my yoga class my teacher often talks about relaxing into a position. I like this better as it helps me let go of the tension around a position and ease into it better. Sitting with discomfort is not my strong spot. I’ve tried taking meditation classes, but the physical discomfort of sitting upright without back support has been too painful for me, so I’ve tried to bring it into other activities. Unfortunately I got too far into it while swimming the other day and bashed my hand into the side of the pool and jolted my recently healed shoulder. Bah.

    I admire your growth in this area. I need to work on this more. I get too distracted by minor or imagined discomforts…I can barely read for 30 minutes without being pulled away from my reading by cravings or whatnot.

  • Sara
    April 4, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Well, I can’t always do it. But I have experienced that shift from discomfort into what yoga teachers always seem to call, vaguely, ‘opening.’ And remembering that it can happen makes it a little easier to sit and wait for it.

    • Dawn
      April 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Those moments of opening can be so transformative! Indeed worth the wait.

  • Ken
    April 8, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Good morning, Sara.

    You and my teacher, Thorn, appeared almost right next to each other in my LJ feed, both talking about your relationships with yoga and discomfort. You’re not talking about quite the same things, but it all sounds interconnected to me. I thought you might be interested in each other’s perspectives. Here is what she wrote: