I spent a great deal of time in the car today, driving from one appointment to another, one town after another. That car time provided the perfect opportunity to listen on Audible to chapters 12 and 13 in The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer, in preparation for book club tonight.
I actually listened to chapter 13 twice, rewinding the audio in certain spots over and over again. I reflected as I listened, searched inward, reached outward. Chapter 13, titled Far, Far Beyond, begins with these words “Ultimately, the word ‘beyond’ captures the true meaning of spirituality. In its most basic sense, going beyond means going past where you are. It means not staying in your current state. When you constantly go beyond yourself, there are no more limitations. There are no more boundaries. Limitations and boundaries only exist at the places where you stop going beyond. If you never stop, then you go beyond boundaries, beyond limitation, beyond the sense of a restricted self.”
Those words captivated me two years ago. I read chapter 13 many times, listened to it on audio many times. Something in my heart broke open and I longed to experience a life lived beyond my limitations, beyond my comfort zone. The word beyond began to show up repetitively, in conversations, on signs, at random, seemingly coincidental times. I knew, toward the end of 2013 that beyond was my word for the next year, and that moving beyond my comfort zone was going to be crucial in 2014. How to do that, I wasn’t sure. And then I read about Lu Ann Cahn and her year of new experiences and knew that the way was being shown to me.
Michael Singer describes how to know when we approach the edges of our comfort zone….we feel discomfort. His example explains that a dog contained within an invisible electrical fence learns how close he can get to that barrier before he feels the mild zap of electricity. He learns to back up enough so that he doesn’t feel the discomfort, thus remaining within the confines of his yard. In the same way, when I approach the edges of my comfort zone, I feel the sting of discomfort and back up just enough to remove the feeling. The dog won’t die from the experience, if he chooses to put up with the momentary discomfort and charge through the barrier. If he can do that, he knows freedom. I won’t die either from discomfort, if I will move through that momentary rush of fear, or the dread of embarrassment, or the risk of failure. And I too will know freedom.
My comfort zone keeps me contained as surely as the electrical fence does the dog. I can choose to spend my life within my comfort zone, or I can free myself. The day I decided to push against the barriers of my comfort zone was the day I began to grow, the new daily experiences leading me to opportunities and joy, and through fear and doubt. I realized the confinement I lived within was constructed by me, with the intention of keeping me safe. I could walk out at any time, moving past the pang of discomfort. And move beyond, I did.
Today, listening to this chapter, I looked at how much I have grown since first stepping beyond. I can feel the openness within me, feel how my soul has expanded, appreciate the quiet within my mind. I also saw where I have pushed through and yet now rest, paused in front of new barriers, feeling pretty comfortable again. Amazing insights welled up, along with fresh perspectives on my journey, which is what this year is all about. It’s time to push beyond again. And again.
I am grateful for the book club, which provided an opportunity for reflection and renewed energy to keep growing, keep going, beyond the edges of my comfort zone, beyond the edges of my limitations. I am going….far, far beyond.