I wrote about this topic in February of 2011, and today I’m reminded that it is still a very relevant theme in my life. I have been very emotional lately, often crying easily during a frustration, and sometimes for a long time. It has been a busy and somewhat difficult six months for me for a number of reasons, and the stress of that prolonged period of discomfort is taking a toll.
For two years now, I’ve been taking part in a healer training program that involves energy and intuitive healing techniques. This course has taught me a great deal about the healing process, and solidified the truth of the statement, “healer, heal thyself.” Part of what makes me an empathetic healing coach is that I also struggle with many of the same issues as my clients. You’ve heard the phrase “we teach that which we need to learn?” It’s so true.
In a recent course session for this program, the topic was heart opening, and as we were led through the steps during a meditation, I could not stop crying – sobbing actually. I asked my teacher about it afterwards and she said she felt I was in need of comfort. Immediately I knew this was true. Comfort comes in so many forms. The last time I wrote about this topic four years ago, I focused on food as I was changing my diet at the time, and lamenting the lack of previously cherished comfort foods.
I also wrote about nurturing in an example about my mom, who took excellent care of me following surgeries in a physical sense – shopping, preparing meals and cleaning – but didn’t offer the emotional or physical nurturing that I craved. It just isn’t her style – never has been – and I didn’t have the tools to ask for what I needed at the time. I get better at this everyday, but it is still a growth opportunity for me. Sometimes we all need to be held, soothed and comforted through physical touch or the deep listening of someone close to us, and this can be difficult to come by in our busy lives.
Like me, you may find it difficult to ask for this kind of comfort from someone else, or you may feel you don’t have anyone from whom you can ask it. As singles, this can be especially difficult, as we sometimes feel isolated and therefore miss out on these types of comfort. We can definitely practice asking for what we need from our friends and family, and the comfort we can receive from them by asking them to listen, give us a hug or just sit with us in our pain, is really nice. And while most of us also crave the comfort of a trusted romantic partner, we can also comfort ourselves by knowing what it is that is comforting to us.
Though I love to travel, too much of a good thing can also be trying, and lately I have noticed how much I long for the comforts of home. For the past several months, I have been renting my condo on airbnb when I travel. After discovering that I was gone for 140 nights last year, it seemed crazy not to take advantage of the sharing economy by letting someone else use my place when I wasn’t in it. The experience has been positive from the standpoint of having good guests and making some extra money, but tougher than expected to not have a place to come home to.
Because people often want to stay for several weeks, that means I sometimes have to fill in the gaps in my travels by staying with friends or finding another place to be during that time, and while I’m lucky to have so many awesome friends who have taken me in, I did not anticipate how tough it would be to live out of my car or a suitcase for an extended period of time. I often don’t have access to things I need or personal documents that are locked up somewhere for safekeeping, or my mail! And when plans change and the river trip I was supposed to guide gets cancelled, I suddenly have to scramble for somewhere to stay.
There are often things that take us out of our comfort zone whether it is big changes in our lives or unexpected challenges (long or short term). Almost always these circumstances can lead to growth and help us build a new muscle for dealing with difficulties, but they are supremely uncomfortable when we are in the middle of them. Finding ways to receive comfort is paramount whether from others, or within ourselves.
Take a minute now to make a list of things that feel comforting to you. A few of mine are: nature, yoga, a hot bath, an extra long hug, a cozy blanket and a cup of hot tea, a warm fire, sunshine, a massage, reading a book, seeing a movie and talking to a friend on the phone. These physical comforts can be a great first step, but ultimately what we want is to feel centered within ourselves; to know that we are ok, and that wherever we happen to be at the moment is ok too. This will require some deeper work.
Don’t think of it as “work” though. Approach it as nurturing that you give yourself. Sit in a comfortable position or lie down in a quiet space and focus on your own heart. Know that as much as you give to others from generosity and love, you need to receive as well. When you give and give without being sourced, you can begin to feel depleted and even resentful. There is an energy in the universe that is available to all of us. It is most commonly known as grace, which is defined as: "the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it."
You can invite this universal energy of grace into your heart to fill you up and to comfort you anytime you need it. This takes some intention and the time to allow yourself to be still in order to receive, and it is so amazing. We are much better equipped to deal with the frustrations and discomforts of life when we can invite in grace. Of course, you can also top that off with a warm cup of hot chocolate. I recommend that you do!