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Ode to the ol’ “comfort zone”

Comfort Zone/Discomfort Zone…Is it Really that Simple?

How many times have you heard or read something along the lines of: “To grow, you must always get and be outside your comfort zone”?

Personal development types often talk about how important it is to go outside your comfort zone.

There is definitely some validity to that, to a certain extent. Sometimes we stay static and hang on for dear life to the status quo even when we have or in spite of  having strong feelings to the contrary.   We may be yearning for a positive change in our lives, yet we stay stuck because stepping out of our usual routine feels scary, uncertain or even dreadfully painful.

Let’s break down the concept, however, a bit more. I’d say there’s a vital distinction to be made between what may or may not be within your comfort zone, and what resides within your alignment zone. Focusing solely on what is or isn’t within your comfort zone I’d say is too darn simplistic. “Change (solely) for change’s sake” — always, and in all ways, without scrutiny — is a rather compulsive, rudimentary and dare I say dumbed-down approach to spiritual growth.

Let’s dive further into this whole idea. Let’s fine-tune it.

Here are examples to help illustrate what I mean:

Let’s say that over the years, you’ve become comfortable in a relationship, or in your career (or even with regard to your living room furniture, for that matter!) Let’s say that you keep going along living your life with these people or things, etc. — keeping things as-is — keeping things “status quo” – so to speak, because well, it’s familiar. Surely, it is often easier to keep things the way they are, instead of risking them in exchange for the unknown.

What if, however, one or more of these situations no longer serve you, and are no longer in furtherance of your highest good? Or, what if they never were what your soul truly desired, and somehow you found yourself with these people or situations or things in your life? What if the relationship, the job, those home furnishings —whatever they may be– really don’t  “light you up?” Well, that’s a pretty good sign that even though they may be considered as being within your comfort zone (i.e., in terms of “hey, at least they’re familiar. I know what it is I’m getting”) — they may not be within your alignment zone.

In these situations, it IS in your best interest to stretch outside your comfort zone, and take the leap, with faith and trust, to make a healthy change. The good news is that the first step off the ledge is by far the scariest and the toughest. The more you do it, the more familiar THAT then becomes. You then have the experience of having done it (and you survived – yay!) Hey, what do you know, THAT (new thing) itself becomes less uncomfortable. That builds confidence, and satisfaction.

When A Situation Does Not Serve You or Your Highest Good

If you heard my interview from the Soul Shine Series, you’ll recall that I left the practice of law right in the middle of a recession, without another job lined up. I listened to my intuition that told me that being a civil litigator was anything but in alignment with whom I was meant to be in this world. Even though I had offers from other law firms back then, I made the conscious choice to take instead, a corporate job in legal sales, where I could find respite from the often 70-hour weeks and strain of contorting myself into what had really begun to feel out of alignment for me.

Despite the “good money” I was making as a lawyer, the conflict and lack of congruence with my authentic self that it required, was not in service of my highest good. Leaving the practice of law, and a high paying job before I had secured another one (I was steeped in law school debt too at the time), was definitely outside my comfort zone.   Alas, however, it was beautifully and soulfully rooted well within my alignment zone.

I’m not suggesting that this type of leap is right for everyone.  It may not have been right even for myself at another point in my life.  At that juncture, though, for me, it proved to be a very good choice. I’m forever grateful for making that decision to “jump ship”. I started that corporate job on July 1st of that year. On July 2nd, I found out that my father had died suddenly from a massive heart attack. Eight months after that, my dear brother died from suicide. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like for me to experience those deep back-to-back losses while still practicing law. My new boss and team at my new corporate job were blessedly supportive and deeply understanding. And, I now had a newfound, sacred space created for me from which to grieve.

A really key factor is deciding for yourself, from a place of self-respect and self-honor: What is and is not with your alignment zone. For more on how to get clear on what is in alignment for you and in congruence with your soul’s desires, go here.

“All the comforts of home”

Now, maybe that relationship, that job, or your favorite comfy chair, are in fact within your comfort zone and in alignment with your true, authentic self, and your soul’s true desires. Well, in that case, I say: Bravo! Brava! Congratulations! There’s no need then to force yourself to step outside either of these zones. There’s no reason to step blindly outside your comfort zone purely in the name of so-called “personal growth”.

It is not wise to live outside your comfort zone all the time. To do so, means running the risk of becoming addicted to change for change’s sake. You end up staying so busy trying out new things that you’ve left no room to cherish, savor, and delight in any of them! You run the risk of treading roughshod right over any opportunity to observe, reflect upon, and learn from the experiences.

It’s a matter of integrity

Ready to fine-tune this concept even more?   I’ve not really heard any gurus put it quite this way in the 20 years or so that I’ve been involved with personal transformation. And, when my own intuition brought it to my attention during the last year or so – it nearly knocked my fuzzy slippers off!

Okay, here it is –

It’s really important and often may be necessary, to venture outside your comfort zone if and only if  it stretches you in a life-enhancing, life-fulfilling way, for you (and not for anyone else). Allow yourself to make those distinctions on what is accordance with your own standards, and not judging by anyone else’s.

If stepping up and out of your comfort zone provides the personal growth you need to pursue your dreams and in furtherance of your soul’s desires, then that is what is within your alignment zone. And to that I say, full speed ahead!

If you’re yearning to become your full, 100% genuine, full-grade, authentic, YOU – that only you can be, and that the world NEEDS you to be – THEN, you beautiful SHINING LIGHT you – that is when you do step right up and out of your COMFORT ZONE, to FULFILL YOUR DESTINY!

If, however, something feels completely outside your alignment zone, do not allow yourself to be lured into stepping outside your comfort zone just so that you can say that “you’re growing”.   You may be simply growing what ends up being (for you, anyway) a patch of weeds, rising up from contaminated soil. When, instead, wouldn’t you rather create your own beautifully sacred and authentic garden?

It can be great to take an inspirational leap — but, just be careful what it is into that you’re leaping. You may be leaping into a fluid, soulfully infused river that is guiding and leading and taking you toward your divine destination. Or, you may be lured into a thrashing current of muck that ends up taking you way off-course, throwing you against the rocks, and catapulting you right out of your integrity and authenticity. Being out-of-integrity is in no way in furtherance of your divine purpose. It does not uplift you or anyone around you. It does not lead to higher consciousness.

Dare to buck the system, especially when it’s out of integrity for you, no matter how deceptively cloaked, and under the guise of “personal growth,” it may be!

Let your intuition be your guide. It knows the truth. It knows your truth, for you. For tips on invoking your intuition and conducting your own “gut checks” go here.

The beauty of support

I would encourage you to seek outside support along the way, as well.   It is essential to have support around you from loved ones and other kindred spirits who honor and replenish you along the way. Seeking and securing guidance from a trusted advocate, counselor, mentor, or other teacher can be hugely beneficial as well. We are not meant to do this all on our own.

Throughout your transformational journey, make your choices wisely and with care. Why? Because you’re worth it. Definitely worth it!

For your consideration:

Get quiet, and reflect for a moment: What is something right now that you truly and authentically desire, that is outside your comfort zone — and how would stretching outside that comfort zone bring you closer to your desired state? On the flip side, allow yourself to get clear on what one thing that may seem pressing for you right now — that, even if you were to go outside your comfort zone — simply would NOT be in alignment for you? What is something that if you were to pursue it, would simply feel completely out of integrity?

Okay, your turn:

What’s one true (and in-integrity) desire — that if you were to step outside your comfort zone and attempt — would completely rock your world in the best way possible? In contrast, what’s one thing – that even if you were to step outside your comfort zone and attempt – would end up making you feel out of alignment and ultimately as if you were a sell-out?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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To be aligned is divine!

In this edition of Soul Notes, we visit the topic of what it means to be divinely aligned. What is alignment, how you can tell, and what are some ways to get and stay in alignment – with your authentic self and with your soul’s true desires?

alignmentWhat is Alignment?

For our purposes here, alignment may best be described as arrangement in appropriate, relative positions. It may be alignment in the physical sense – such as getting a chiropractic adjustment to your spine. It may also be alignment in the metaphysical sense – such as an aligning of your chakras, or energy centers. It may be a combination – such as aligning your mind, body and soul.

Let’s take, for example, an automobile traveling down the road. When in alignment, barring any intervening forces, it moves forward (or backward!) in a perfectly straight line. The vehicle moves efficiently, with minimized wear and tear on the car’s suspension, brakes and tires. Alignment makes for an even distribution of force. A driver may compensate for poor alignment through (over-)steering the car, but that exerts more wear and tear on the driver and the vehicle. (I know, I know, we’re talking physics here on the blog! It’s okay to include science in the discussion, once in a while, right?)

Similarly, reflect for a moment on those times when your spine feels out of whack. You may then seek relief by going and getting a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractors are trained in the aligning (or realigning) of the vertebrae in your back and neck, and may make adjustments to other joints as well.   Chiropractic adjustments are designed to help restore the body to its natural alignment and to allow the body to maximize its own natural healing ability.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~ Mahatma Ghandi

Okay, great – now what about spiritual alignment? For your consideration, I pose this question: Is spiritual alignment really that much different from physical alignment?

As with a harmonic symphony, your soul when fully aligned makes for beautiful music in your life; it lays the foundation for deeply gratifying and fulfilling experiences.

How do you know when you’re in alignment? How can you tell?: THE SIGNS  

Just as with visits to the chiropractor, throughout your transformational journey your body gives clues as to when your soul is out of alignment, too. It comes down to paying attention, and to being a “Sherlock Holmes” in your own life!

Here’s the #1 best way to tell when you’re in (or out) of alignment with your authentic self: 

#1: The gut check

If you’re like me, I bet you can easily recall those times when you’ve noticed a queasy feeling in your stomach — when you just know that something isn’t right for you. Or, maybe it’s been a frenetic rush you feel coursing through your blood stream, or when your head suddenly starts hurting for no apparent reason? Or, maybe you feel weak in the knees; or, you feel your hands clenching, or your “heart sinking” in your chest?

Absent any actual threats to your physical well-being, these instances tend to be your body’s way of letting you know something is out-of-alignment with who you are, and what’s authentic for you.   Someone else may feel just fine in that given situation; for you, however, it’s just not ‘right.’

#2: The “What lights you up?” check

A kissin’ corollary to the gut check would be what I call the “What Lights You Up?” check.   When time simply flies by, and little if anything distracts you, and you feel that your whole body has been lit up from the inside out — You know that feeling? That’s a pretty darn good sign that you’re in alignment with your true, authentic self.

Following the clues:

Think of it as a Mapquest® or a global positioning system (GPS). Often, there are different ways to get to the same destination. One route may be the fastest. Other routes may be more scenic. Road hazards may come up along the way. If and when that happens, do you stop your trip altogether? Do you stop the car in the middle of the road, and abandon the journey? Nope, to get to your destination, you pay attention to what’s happening in front, back, and around you – and make adjustments along the way. The journey is fluid, not static.

The Mapquest® or GPS is simply the tool or resource you use to help you navigate. Have you ever received a “recalculating route” message coming from your GPS? I have, plenty of times! If and when I veer off course, it ever so politely alerts me to get back on track. I can ignore the message.   If however, I desire to get to my intended destination, I better take heed!

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, I encourage you to do the same with your own life. By now, if you’ve listened to any of my interviews or watched my earlier video series, you know that it is the intuition which I feel serves as our own internal GPS. Use it, and use it often! Turn it on! Fire it up! And, trust it. Proceed in accordance with the messages and signals it sends you.

Why is alignment so important?

It’s important, and dare I say vital to be in alignment with your authentic self, because it makes for more productive and enriching life results, and makes this thing called the “human experience” better for you and those around you. It enhances the experiences of those whom you’re destined to serve, and in furtherance of your great work in the world. The world needs you! – The authentic you!

In contrast, as set forth above, the cost of not being in alignment is: undue stress, feelings of frustration and disappointment, and often sadness. It also takes its toll on your mind, body and spirit, all in disservice to your overall well-being.

So, with that, I leave you with the following tips to help you get and stay in alignment:

  1. Meditate/Get Still/Quiet (for 11 minutes)

Set aside 11 minutes that you will commit to being free from distractions, and pose this question to yourself — allowing your intuition and divine guidance to provide any and all information you need to receive:

“With regard to this particular (issue/situation), what is most in alignment for me at this time?”

  1. Write, Draw or Doodle in Your Journal

Next, write, draw or doodle in your journal about the answer(s) you received to your question.   What words, phrases, or pictures represent what has come up for you?

If you’d like to receive additional information or clarification on the question you’ve posed with regard to a particular issue or situation, feel free to ask again!   It may take doing this more than once or twice to get the full “download.”

  1. Keep a Log: “Gut” Checks & “What Lights You Up” Checks

Start keeping a log of those instances throughout the day or week, when you notice or feel in your gut that something is off track. Additionally, keep a record of those instances when you feel most excited, fulfilled, lit up, and on fire!

Do this daily for one week, and set aside another 11 minutes at the end of the seven days to review your log.  What patterns, if any, do you notice? Is there anything that really jumps out at you? Any surprises?

  1. Seek out kindred spirits with whom you can share your spiritual journey and soulful quests.

“Birds of a feather flock together.” – Proverb

As in nature, we as humans benefit from traveling together with others on a similar path, quest or journey.   It helps tremendously to gather together with other souls who are spiritual seekers and those, like you, who are yearning to live full out and in complete alignment with their authentic selves.

  1. Enlist a trusted mentor, guide, or advocate devoted to your success.

Having an advocate on your side who believes in you, supports you and holds you accountable, makes for accelerated alignment and long-lasting success.

For your consideration:

For you, what does it mean to be fully aligned?

Okay, your turn:

In what area of your life do you feel most in alignment? Which area or situation in your life feels the most off track or out-of-alignment for you right now?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.