Many times I heard people tell me I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I was puzzled and confused, what comfort zone? I woke up stressed, I lived stress, and I went to sleep stressed to be greeted by nightmares, I didn’t believe there was such thing as a comfort zone. Then I discovered reading fiction…..I read hundreds of books escaping into the pages but I still felt stressed. Along comes counseling. Whoever believes counseling is easy, hasn’t done it. The very essence of counseling is to show you what you are doing to mess up your own life and take control of your own power. NOT A COMFORT ZONE. My counselor saw that I was obviously stressed and needed to find my refuge? Epic fail. I felt like he was speaking some foreign language to me. Talking to me further he realized why, well before I did. He slowly, for him it seemed much slower than for me, guided me to visualize a safe place. What he realized before I did, I never experienced a safe place. I didn’t know what it looked like or felt like. The home I grew up in was a war zone. The safest place I knew was school and it had gangs and tests. What comfort zone?
My counselor asked a simple question, where do you feel safe? My simple answer, No Where. He realized that I needed a comfort zone. What? That thing everyone told me to get out of I needed to have one? Yup. Meditation, prayer, chanting, yoga, massage, and many other relaxation methods are supposed to bring us to our comfort zone. All of these things irritated me and left me feeling anxious. These methods wanted me to do things like shut my eyes and relax my muscles. Are you kidding me? How do you keep a watchful eye with your eyes shut? Going from relaxed to ready to flee takes precious seconds that could mean survival. My counselor shook his head. I was so messed up.
In search of my comfort zone. I found it in two of the weirdest places. One was Flylady.net. She taught me that perfection and chaos are the enemies of peace of mind. I was raised in chaos. If it was peaceful, Mother would stir things up a bit to create more chaos. Perfectionism was the standard I was raised with, learning it is more of a disease was stunning. Flylady.net was in her own way quite demanding about routines but she taught me the concept of creating routines. Routines helps to bring order to chaos. Routines do not have to look the same, they needed to be my routines. What worked for me type routines. Letting go of perfectionism was much harder because I wanted to improve. What she pointed out was not everything is worth doing perfectly. Swish and swipe your bathroom in 5 minutes or less is good enough. Stop beating myself up if I made a mistake. Try again tomorrow is OK. The other place is in Karate doing Katas. A kata is a series of movements with one for each belt level. A physical routine, rhythmic, consistent, and soothing for me. These two areas taught me how to use routines to create my own comfort zone.
I also found my refuge in Art. Not drawing or sculpting but in photography. The dark room. Developing, processing, and printing rolls of actual film. I found it in pour painting, scribble pictures, photo safaris. I found it looking for an angle that brought new perspective to everyday items. I would zone to a place that all that existed was what ever art I was doing in that moment. It felt awesome.
Now I have a comfort zone. Some days I need to stay there to recharge my batteries and prepare myself for my next challenge. A comfort zone is a vitally important place and state of mind where prayer and meditation are not irritating. A physical or mental place that I can get my equilibrium reset. I can center my energy and find my core self. I needed my comfort zone. When I had one, then I could venture out.
A few of my pictures from my photo blog http://ruthmower.blogspot.com/