Oakville Zen Meditation

#139 Our discomfort zones Dec. 18th 2016

                   Our discomfort zone

Outside things that trigger discomfort can be anything: people, events, situations, food.

Obviously hought and emotions may also trigger discomfort.

Discomfort is a physical and emotional reaction to something, something that we dislike or don’t feel comfortable with. Learning to be comfortable in our discomfort zones is a wonderful idea but the task is not easy.

If you learn this skill, you can master almost anything. Unfortunately, most people try to avoid discomfort.

Subconsciously or not, we run as fast as possible in the other direction. This is perhaps the biggest limiting factor for most of us and it’s why you can’t change or don’t want to change your cozy habits.

Think about this: many people don’t eat vegetables because they don’t like the taste. We’re not talking about the end of the world but just about stupid taste. So we eat what we like the most that is bad stuff. The simple act of avoiding something that tastes different i.e. the discomfort, makes people unhealthy. The beautiful thing is: learning little discomfort isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be something you may enjoy with a little training.

What are our discomfort zones?


  • There are coming from triggers outside self such as people, events, situations, food, etc. They are zillion of them. No point to list them since they are specific to each of us and may change with time.
  • But, there is no such discomfort zones coming from the outside world since discomfort is a negative feeling

produced by our mind. Our mind is creating the discomfort not the outside trigger by itself.

Symptoms of discomfort: They are emotional & physical

We are in a discomfort zone when:

1) We are affected emotionally such as disliking state, being annoyed, frustrated, unhappy, fearful, upset, and resentful, impatient.

2) We are affected physically: stomach upset, sweating, fast breathing, rapid heart rate, restless behavior, etc.

Simply put: you know you are in one of your discomfort zone when first your body and your mind react negatively for being or doing something that you don’t want to be in or don’t want to do.

Mind-made discomfort creates resistance and resistance creates stress and stress is affecting body and mind.

Can we avoid our discomfort zones?

If you are able to avoid a trivial trigger, by no means do. Unfortunately, most of our so called discomfort zones cannot be avoided since the discomfort is created by our mind when we are facing their outside trigger or initial cause.

Mastering Discomfort:

The trigger is outside self but the discomfort comes from the mind, therefore, mastering it must come from the mind. The way to master our feeling of discomfort is to be comfortable with it that is to accept it.That might sound contradictory, but it’s not. If you are afraid of discomfort, and you try to resist you will probably give up and fail, and go back to your comfort zones. So the approach should be progressive and in small doses.

Pick an outside trigger that creates little or mild discomfort not too hard to deal with:

You may try a new healthy food, start a new hobby, light daily exercise,

Then watch and analyse the raising physical and emotional discomfort triggered by whatever or whoever.

Finally deal with it

Are you looking to avoid your discomfort trigger even a trivial one? or the opposite:

What happens if you stay and accept it?

There is nothing wrong to stay with the trigger for a little while then to move away from it as long as you start again few days later for a longer duration. This is the principle of habituation used in allergy therapy.

Finally: Smile.

This is not trivial advice. If you can smile while being uncomfortable, you can learn to feel more comfortable with discomfort. Repeat this practice when facing another outside trigger.

It will be strange, perhaps difficult, at first, but soon your level of discomfort will fade progressively and comfort zone will expend.


Like for everything we dislike, it is important not only to recognize our discomfort zones and their effects but to accept them rather than trying in avoiding or resisting against.

Following these steps, habituation will do the trick.