I've recently practiced reallllllyyyy getting out of my comfort zone and learning how to surf, (finally!) So I have decided I want to go deeper on the topic of comfort zones and where they stem from. As well as learn about mine on a personal level and share the nitty gritty in hopes of helping you out as well.
I have this idea that comfort zones and ego go hand in hand. Your insecurities help to create your ego, which then paints you into a box called your comfort zone.
Surfing for me is a perfect demonstration. I've lived in Hawaii for several years and can't surf, well until now. When I first moved here I watched some YouTube videos and bought a soft top long board off Craigslist. YouTube can be resourceful but sometimes you just HAVE to surrender and let people teach you! I refused to take lessons from an actual person for two reasons;
1. I am incredibly independent and resourceful; many times to a fault. That is my ego talking. I'm like, feminism! I'm tough! But in truth, I have no stinking clue how to surf. (Among many other things in life!) And 2. Insecurities. Because insecurity is often the place where ego stems from. I think, as a healthy and active yoga teacher, that jelly roles are something I'm not supposed to have (So not true!). My ego set an unrealistic expectation for me. My insecurities and ego feed off one another. (We need to just put them both in the trash bin, but that's a long time coming and a lot of lessons learned. Hopefully we get there one day. I have faith.)
My problem was that I didn't want a surf instructor to see me fall when they seem to be so effortlessly good. As if they didn't originally fall the same way. I want to be independent! I don't need help! I didn't want people to take note of my nip-slips, jelly roles, booger-face fails. I had insecurities because I didn't know how to surf and in addition I had too high of expectations for myself. Because EVERYONE looks that way when they are first learning how to surf. Even sometimes still when they already have the know-how! It just happens! Sometimes hard things make us look silly- and that's okay. What is sillier is not trying and not accepting help in the first place.
Trying to make the connection with allowing someone to teach me how to surf, I thought about another common "self taught" practice that hits so close to home for me as an avid practitioner and yoga teacher... Self-taught yoga. I practice in my own home all the time. At home practice is like homework with schooling- so important for continual growth! But I am not "self taught". Instagram can't teach you yoga, no matter how hard you try. It can successfully inspire your practice however, and that's a great tool. Practicing from the Internet is less beneficial because you do not have a trained individual in the room offering you modifications specific to your exact body and health needs. You do not have someone that can watch you and help adjust your body when you accidentally go too deep or position your knee slightly off proper alignment and risk injury. And for the most part, you do not have the same jaw dropping connection when an entire room of people are in sync and breathing as one. Again, at home practice is so encouraged and so beneficial. Even videos on wellness apps that trained teachers offer are great! But to learn in the first place you truly need a teacher first hand in front of your face. Even only for a small moment of time weekly. This allows a professional to know your body as well as your spirit and what kind of hurdles you should take on in your practice. They can successfully point you in the right direction of online videos once they evaluate your practice so that you can be safe while maximizing your practice time. The reason they became a teacher alone is to sincerely share what they love so much with everyone and anyone who is willing to try. Jelly roles and nip slips aside. A teacher/student relationship should always be about cultivation, trust, and a shared passion for a skill. It's that simple. Even if you ultimately choose to practice mostly on your own with guided videos. That's okay. But give the real person a chance first, over a screen. You can do it! Teachers want to teach. It is what we are here for. Human connection above all else is what will cultivate love.
Teachers don't go into their field to get laughs out of people. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally seen someone's testicle or areola. But that doesn't matter because that isn't even what I'm paying attention to as a yoga teacher. I'm looking to see where your dristi (gaze) is, I'm reminding your of your bandhas (internal energy locks through defined muscle groups), I'm scanning knees to avoid blow outs. And so much more! That's my job. The gritty stuff is just what comes with it, because I was the one the signed up to get farted on BECAUSE I don't care! I just want to help you love what I love because it makes you feel so GOOD! That's it. No funny business. It's occupational hazard and its something that us teachers- of any skill- do not mind at all.
After deciding to apply my own view of teaching (yoga) to my ego/comfort zone mess, I realized that teaching is a beautiful thing. It is the art of sharing a skill you have cultivated with others out of sincerity and passion for said skill. Teachers are special people. Learning how to teach is a special thing. "Self taught" is something I have a love/hate relationship with. I am a very "do it yourself" person, as I've explained above. I hate to admit I need help and I try to be independent to a fault. So I get wanting to be "self taught". BUT; After undergoing an extensive yoga teacher training I can appreciate letting myself be taught, as I've also explained above. Especially after running into so many men and women who only do it for the photos or the following. That's not what teaching is about. And that's especially not what yoga is about. Whether you're learning, sharing, or teaching. Share your inspiring lifestyle but share it true. You should be the same representation off the screen that you are on. Live your truth- there is no reason not to as we are all so unique and can achieve anything we want! And especially especially allow yourself room to be taught. No one can know all. And the second you put a cap on your practice like that, well you are only stunting your own growth 100%. If you preach authenticity then people will come knocking, because that is truly all we want to hear.
Back to the story of surfing and surrendering my ego to the ocean and my teacher; For several weeks I battled waves on my shitty board without a clue before giving up and deciding that surfing wasn't for me. My ego got me there. My ego that stemmed from my insecurities kept me from stepping out of my comfort zone and letting someone who actually knew what they were doing help me! In conclusion to this experience and many others, I believe that ego creates your comfort zone. And the insecurities that birthed your ego keep you from stepping out of it. Don't think yourself into a box, seriously. That's the best advice I've got right now. Once I clicked this realization of my own teaching with the teaching of others I began to understand a lot about my ego and how I was the only one stopping myself from succeeding. I said fuck it to my insecurities and decided to give something new and challenging a try because I wanted to have fun! And guess what, I did. Because yesterday I paddled out all by myself for the first time and caught seven waves in thirty minutes (with no nip slips I might add!) and it's all because I allowed someone else to teach me. And they have been nothing but insightful and encouraging!
Allowing yourself to be taught is a beautiful thing because it is the best way to surrender your ego. Allowing someone to teach you is your heart saying, okay- I don't know everything and I would like help in getting there, to my end goal. I trust myself and I trust this teacher and I am giving up my insecurities to learn.
Learning is such an important part of our lives. We should never stop learning. Your ego is not your amigo. Give it up to get out of your comfort zone and start learning again. No more egos, no more comfort zones. Graciously allow the teachers of this world to project their hearts upon you.It is one of the most special gifts that they can give. And believe me, they put a lot of pressure on themselves to do it well- as they have dedicated their heart and soul to it.
On that note! Hug a teacher today and let them know you're thankful for what they have taught you! This could be anyone, someone certified in a trade or you mom or your grandpa or your dog. Everyone has something to teach someone- even you! Share your knowledge and allow others to share with you. Everyone has something to teach the world.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!