The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Sore leg serenity: finding joy by embracing discomfort

Dan Hahn
Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Picture this: a regular guy defying convention, cross-legged on a wooden step, discovering the beauty of discomfort in pursuit of inner peace. That is not me, but perhaps what I aspire to be.

I have been diligently pursuing the Headspace 365 meditation series. I successfully completed “take 10,” which consisted of ten days of ten-minute meditations. I then progressed to “take 15,” a program that involves fifteen days of fifteen-minute meditations.

Currently, I am on “take 50,” but that is just a playful exaggeration. In reality, I am seven days into “take 20,” which involves twenty consecutive days of twenty-minute meditations. During one of these sessions, I had a remarkable experience I feel compelled to share.

First, some context. Headspace recommends meditators to sit with their backs against a chair and their feet planted firmly on the floor. However, I disregard this advice entirely, and I have been doing it wrong on purpose.

Instead, I prefer to sit cross-legged, seated upon a wooden step for support since I cannot maintain that position comfortably. This choice stems from my desire to enhance my flexibility and eventually achieve the ability to sit on the floor cross-legged, like those models commonly depicted in meditation-themed stock imagery.

However, as a result, I often endure significant discomfort, which causes my legs to fall asleep.

The focus of the meditation on this particular day was how to address discomfort when it arises during longer sessions.

Given my lack of flexibility due to years of neglecting stretching exercises, a complete lack of flexibility I must have been born with, and the physical strains of participating in multiple marathons, including an ultra-marathon (a 50-kilometer event, to be precise), sitting cross-legged, even with support, remains a highly uncomfortable enterprise.

Therefore, you can imagine my delight upon discovering that the meditation practice for the day was designed to help me tackle this very issue!

Obviously, discomfort leads someone to shift in their seat. The thing about meditation is that it requires you to sit still, and the more stillness you achieve, the less active your mind will be.

This is why I believe that sitting down and watching TV or reading for extended periods can be so enjoyable.

Around ten minutes into the meditation, I encountered some difficulty in following along with the guided instructions. I began to feel tightness in my knee in the usual spot.

Despite this discomfort, I remained motionless. It was at this point that Andy, the meditation guide, suggested focusing my attention on the discomfort itself.

As directed, I visualized focusing my attention to the discomfort, as if a feather were gently flicked from the top of my head and descended gracefully, eventually landing softly on the source of discomfort.

I then imagined stretching and falling into the discomfort, treating it as if it were a cozy, oversized, comfortable couch.

In my mind’s eye, I pictured a miniature version of myself lying along my calf and knee directly on the discomfort, sinking comfortably in while holding a feather and grinning.

As I immersed myself in this imaginative scene, a sense of curiosity and playfulness arose. Rather than resisting the discomfort, I became genuinely interested in it.

So, I allowed myself to sink deeper into the metaphorical couch, experiencing a profound sense of release and contentment.

As I continued focusing my attention on the discomfort, something extraordinary occurred. My overall attitude about discomforted was shifting. Since I have run marathons, I know how to grit my teeth and push through pain, but this was not that.

I learned discomfort need not be considered a feeling to be resisted or conquered. Instead, it served as a reminder that a better, more comfortable moment is not somewhere off in the future.

When armed with perspective, calmness, and a touch of humor, we can find a sense of joy right now, even when in discomfort.

Dan Hahn can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

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About the Contributor
Dan Hahn
Dan Hahn, Columnist
Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 581-2812.

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