However, stepping out of your comfort zone usually is a voluntary thing and does not keep you from taking that step back into a situation that feels less threatening than the one you have chosen to subject yourself to. Taking a bungee jump, e.g., holds the thrill of danger and excitement, but you also know that it’s going to be over in a moment and you’ll be back on firm land.
I tend to have periods when I am perfectly happy to take risks, when ‘the new’ excites me and I cannot wait to embark on some new venture. And then there are times when I’m more introspective, when I need more structure and the knowledge of what comes next. Either way, I need the option to retreat – and I believe that may be the case for most of you, too.
But here’s the kicker: what if you find yourself in a situation where you find yourself pushed out of your comfort zone all the time, and the only way to achieve something is to not just visit the outer fringes of the comfort zone, but having to spend a lot of time outside of it. Spending too much time in situations that are deeply troubling?
This is the situation I find myself in more often now that lockdown (in the UK) has been removed and – it seems – everyone has returned to what was the norm before the pandemic. I have always felt deeply uncomfortable when I’m surrounded by a lot of people, but I realise this appears to be the main avenue to encounter others, to engage with new people, make friends, find a partner (for sex, or for life), and generally interact.
The covid lockdown zoom calls were wonderful for me because I have never had so many personal conversations in my life, simply because this particular environment meant that whoever was engaged in a conversation was not distracted all the time, and I was able to focus on the person rather than struggling with that internal “fight or flight” instinct that always comes up in crowds larger than 3 or 4 people.
You might think “get over it already and mingle” but it’s not that easy! This is not just something I have decided not to do, but it’s baked into my being: groups of people freak me out. Am I alone in this? I don’t think so, but I fear that everyone else who feels the same is also retreating into their shell again.
Does this sound familiar? I’d like to hear about your experiences
The most efficient thing to do in those moments is to try and physically exhaust my body, and distract my thoughts in that way. This kind of exhaustion does not necessarily involve a workout or running hard for 20 minutes: it can be as simple as an energetic breathing exercise like the irregular breathing from Osho’s dynamic meditation, or a breathing pattern that follows a drumbeat I hear in my earphones. Focus on breath has always been my go-to, because it needs a particular type of focus on a mental thing, and leads to a physical outcome.
Another option for me is to keep my eyes unfocused (curtesy of wearing glasses) and look at shapes rather than items. It’s a bit like learning to draw, but finding the joy on looking at shapes usually takes away the maelstrom of thoughts that circle my mind and allows me to settle on just one thing: shapes and colour.
If you are a little bit more advanced, a useful tool is to engage your PC muscle (the muscle that you use to control the flow of urine). The exercise is usually referred to as ‘the PC pump’. How? You engage that muscle and let it go, then repeat as often as you can. It’s possible to vary this by lengthening the time you hold the muscle. A word: this is not the same muscle as the one that control your rectum! Those are connected, but distinctly different, once you learn to recognise them.
Exercising this muscle will feel a little strange at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will not only have a thing to focus on, but you’ll also get a great side-effect: this pumping motion is going to have an effect on your cock, of course, and from an energetic point of view, you’ll be pulling energy into your root chakra that sits right in that spot! Nothing but positives here.
Circling back to my initial subject: focusing on either of these things will allow you to drop into a space where thoughts are less likely to interrupt your meditation. Of course, there will be small interruptions, but nothing like the obstacles you faced in the beginning of this article. Breathing and PC pump are more physical elements, while focusing on shapes and colours is helpful to engage the mind more.
Choose whichever you need more and keep trying.
Ultimately, it will yield results, believe me.
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.