Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bougie discomfort

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a client. She is a therapist in training, so in addition to discussing her personal concerns, we usually end up chatting about psychology concepts. You know, because we're cool like that. Anyway, in our last session, she introduced me to a mindfulness practice called bourgeois discomfort. Since I like to colloquial term "bougie" a little better that's what I'll use.

Basically, bougie discomfort is a way of training yourself to cope with unpleasant situations. For instance, if the temperature is not to your liking, rather than rushing to turn on the heat or the AC unit, just sit with it for a while without frantically trying to change it. Another example might be to sit in an uncomfortable position for a short period of time. Sit. Breathe. Notice the discomfort and notice that it either lessens or you just adapt to it.

I practiced this a little during my birthday travels. Most of my trip was spent in the middle seat on the plane and in a cramped back seat of a car. I also had a different eating schedule than I'm used to, so I got to practice whenever I felt hungry or slightly nauseated. I was never in pain or facing any harm, of course. In fact, I imagine it's called bougie discomfort because you're not facing real suffering. You are just practicing being a little less comfortable than usual, definitely good practice for people with first world problems. The hope is that as you learn to adapt to different uncomfortable conditions, then you're better able to cope when things actually get real.

Give it a try. How can you offend your bougie sensibilities today? Can you sit through a boring meeting? Can you breathe through a traffic jam? Can you hold that plank position a few seconds longer? Can you settle into a sensation without rushing to fix or change it? I bet you'll find you can withstand way more than you realize. That, or you'll realize, at least in some cases, the things we desperately try to avoid maybe aren't so bad after all.

1 comment:

  1. Aw, was it that bad? :-)

    But really, some of this comes with parenting. I think I live in a state of discomfort so much so that now it's comfortable. When someone else has the kid and I finally get my me time and space, I truly don't know what to do. I can't even relax. Things must suck on some level for me to think it's normal. I'm sure that's not healthy either...

    May we all find happiness and comfort in all the strange places life takes us.