Comfort Zones, Yoga, and Change

by Lance Ekum on · 41 comments

In Flight
Creative Commons License photo credit: Joel Olives

"How does one become a butterfly?" she asked. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar." ~ Anonymous

Comfort Zones

Mmmm…that big cushy sofa in your living room.  The bed you've had for ten years.  The same family vacation spot you've visited as long as you can remember.

There's comfort in these "zones"

The j-o-b you've been doing for the last ten years.  The television show reruns you continue to watch.  The relationships you continue to hold onto.  The …_______ {fill in the blank}.

There's comfort in these "zones", too.

Let's look at that a bit deeper.  That sofa.  You've had it for years.  Evenings, after a long day at work…there's a true comfort in plopping down there.  The feel, the look, the way it forms to you…is comforting.  There's something that draws you to that place, welcoming you in.

It's nice, isn't it – how you "feel" when you plop yourself down into that sofa (or whatever it is for you that's a real source of comfort and joy).

What about that job you have, though?  The one you've been doing for years.  Or those relationships you continue to hold onto. 

Things you do because you've always done them – and there's comfort even if there isn't joy. 

There's a comfort in the knowing that it's (whatever "it" is) there.  (good or bad)

And the whole thought of stepping out of that comfort zone…well, it feels really daunting.  That, and – you know – maybe that "outside your comfort zone" thing you've been thinking about…well, what if you look like a great big fool when you try it.  What will everyone think? 



Perhaps it seems strange to segue into yoga from here.

Let me explain…

I'm not unlike you.  I can quickly get pretty damn used to those comfort zones in my life.  And, well…some of them are good.  Some also hold me back, though.

Let's go back a couple of years…

The idea of trying yoga is something that has kept appearing before me.  And I'm drawn to it – and to the whole mind/body connection.  There's this thing, though – it's outside of my comfort zone.  I've never tried yoga – certainly not publicly, in a class.  I don't have any of the equipment.  The few people I personally know who practice yoga are all female.  Whoa!  Lots of comfort zone red flags.

And guess what?

Because I allowed myself to be limited by the walls I built up around my area of comfort, I also let the opportunity to practice yoga elude me. (can you relate?)


Change.  It happens every day.  Sometimes it happens around us, and there's nothing we can do about it (think road construction, the new family that moved into the neighborhood, etc).  Sometimes change is presented to us – and from our "comfort zone", we accept it (think new responsibilities at work, a new time for your favorite tv show, etc). 

How about getting out of those comfort zones, though?

When we actively choose to change, and to make those changes – we ARE actively stepping out of our comfort zones. 

Back To Yoga

Think of a time you have actively chosen to make a change in your life…to step outside of that comfort zone.  How did it go?  Even if it didn't go as well as you had hoped, I'm sure you can still take something from the experience (especially when it's something that's spoken from your heart). 

About a year ago, I chose to step outside of that comfort zone I had created – the one around exercise and what I could and could not do.  I signed up to participate in a weekly yoga class.

Was it scary? 

Think of that first day going to school, or your first day on a new job (especially when you don't know anyone).  Yep, it was pretty much like that.  Thoughts going through my head:  would I look like a fool, what if I couldn't get into some certain position, would I look like a novice amongst experts, would I feel out of place, would I slow the class down…

And guess what??

They were just that – thoughts in my head!  In fact, I walked into a class (and instructor) that welcomed me.  When I didn't "get" one of the positions, help was right there.  When I couldn't do some things (okay – there are just certain positions my body is not ready for yet!) I also realized there were others there as well. 

Today I continue practicing yoga, at the same studio I began at one year ago.   The shift:  by actively choosing to change, this place of fear and unknowing has went from feeling like it was too far out of my comfort zone to try – to today where it is a comfort zone.  And this new comfort zone – it's one that I actively look forward to, much like the bed I sleep in. 

What's It Mean To You

So, actively look at your life.  Be honest with yourself and see the comfort zones you are allowing which limit you in some way. 

How can you change, to step away from these places and more fully into the comfort zone of your soul?

by Lance Ekum

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Big Girl Bombshell October 1, 2011 at 8:17 am

Ah…change and comfort zones…..Ironic..I used the same quote in my post on changes recently. Yoga…yes one I have always been curious about but SO out of my comfort zone…I could go on and on and on about that one….

And being honest here, for a moment, I used change many, many times as an avoidance tool to AVOID the deeper un comfort zones…. if that makes any sense at all
Big Girl Bombshell´s Last Fabulous Post ..It’s an Inside JobMy Profile


Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 6:08 am

So, so neat…that we both used that same quote! I really love the caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis, and how that relates to change.

Thanks so much for sharing this about how you’ve used change as an avoidance tool. It does make sense. Sometimes…the change itself can be the comfort zone – that holds us back from other places in our lives.

So great having you here – thank you!


sheila October 1, 2011 at 8:29 am

Ah yes, I started yoga a few years ago and it helped a lot with a LOT of aspects in my life! Although I attempted and completed a daring pose (for me anyhow) THE WHEEL (omg, ouch) pose… and ended up not being able to practice for about 3 months. lol. I still do my yoga, and also incorporate daily meditation (if only for a few minutes, sometimes) . Actually I think these are my new comfort zones! Although I prefer the term Happy Place.

Have a great weekend everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 6:12 am

Okay…that’s impressive – doing the wheel pose!! There’s no way I’m ready to attempt that yet!!

And meditation is also such a good place to “be”. I have done this off and on (thanks for the reminder – it’s time to bring this back into the “on” position!), and have found it such a great way to start my day.

“Happy Place”!! I *love* that!!

Thanks so much for sharing all of this Sheila!


Justin | Mazzastick October 1, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hi Lance,
I have always been a person who enjoyed his comfort. It wasn’t until several years ago that I also began to notice that I was focusing too much on comfort and not enough on growth experiences.

So as a result I got real good at doing things that were outside of my comfort zone. Like you said, even if the experience doesn’t exactly go our way we can still get something out of it.
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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 6:14 am

Thanks for sharing all of this. I think many are in this place – where we really get “comfortable” in the comfort…and can easily stay there. The thing is – what are we missing out on because of that?

Very cool – you making the shift to really getting out of the comfort zone and experiencing life!! There is just so much out there…


Kimberley October 1, 2011 at 10:37 am! There was something you posted earlier this year that got me headed back in the right direction…right back to the yoga studio!

When my partner is all healed we are going to be taking advantage of 30 days of yoga for $30 at the studio we go to…so it will be month of yoga, not every day mind you, but the goal is 3 times per week which will definitely be outside of my comfort zone.

You rock Lance!
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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 6:17 am

Me too – I really do love yoga!! (it just took getting out of my comfort zone to “see” that!)

And how cool – the 30 for $30! What a great (and great value!) way to experience yoga even more deeply!

Kimberly – you have absolutely made my day!! Thanks so much for sharing this, and for shining you AWESOME into this world!!


Jannie Funster October 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

Hi Mister Lance! That is a very pretty monarch butterfly. After reading this post I think a photo of you in a yoga postition would work very well too!!

What I like about yoga is the peaceful feeling achieved. Harmonious and happy.

I think I’ve gotten pretty good about shedding zones and experiences that don’t bring peace to me. When something does not feel right, it’s best to let go. So….. when do we know what comfort zones to legitimately let go, and which ones to expand to bring us to a better place? I think deep down we know.

So… about that yoga photo of you?? Will it appear in a future post?? 🙂

Take care, my good friend!!

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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 6:27 am

Hello Ms. Jannie!!
You know what…I’ll poke around…I believe I have a photo of me doing a headstand – if I find that craziness..I’ll send it to you!! (lucky you, huh?!?!?!) (and maybe someday I’ll also include it in a future post, too!)

The yoga class I’m taking is one that can often get our heart rate going. The thing is, though – we always finish our sessions in a meditative state – and that really is so, so peaceful (and an wonderful way to wrap up our evening).

Yes, I believe we do know (deep down) what is calling us (and what we can let go of). The thing is, of course, really being open to listening to that “deep down” voice within…

Jannie, you ALWAYS make me smile!!

x’s and o’s (lots of ’em)


Joy October 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

So much to celebrate in this article!
The three things that speak loudest to me are: “there’s com­fort even if there isn’t joy” and “They were just that — thoughts in my head!” and the practice of yoga. An invitation for me to look into my life and identify the areas I sink into comfort even if it doesn’t please me..hmm..why would I sacrifice pleasure for comfort, oh, because it’s *safe* where am I choosing apparent safety over delight. And where am I allowing thoughts to distract me from accessing my heart space and allowing for a natural flow through “change”..
As for yoga..I find that my practice directly enriches my life..when I gently ‘stretch’ on the mat–yes even through the areas I thought I might not be flexible enough–I find that I gently stretch in life. We often think of leaving our comfort zone in one huge overhaul or leap, which may be intimidating, when actually it is the gentle movement forward that allows us to step into change..I needed reminding of all of this…
So awesome Lance! Thank *you*:)
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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 6:34 am

So, so wonderful having you here…

That’s such a great observation – the idea of choosing the “safe” path – and how that can limit us from fully experiencing the “delight” path. I just *love* this!! YES!! DELIGHT!! What a sweet, sweet word!

And I love, also, how you compare the stretching in yoga – to the stretching we do in life. These “life stretches” don’t have to always be gigantic stretches from where we are currently at (although it’s okay if they are, too). Often, all it takes is a little bit of a stretch beyond where we’re currently at – to “see” new possibilities in our life.

Joy, thank you so much for being here – and for always sharing from your heart. You brighten my day with your caring and loving thoughts…


Jen October 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Ahhh…..Lance. This is so good. Congrats to you for reaching into that place of unknown apprehension and having it become part of your comfort zone! Yoga is definitely on my docket to do more of. I have only done a little, but I think the take-away from all this is that it is better to dive in than to stand on the side of the pool, hesitant to get in, never knowing what the water feels like.

I am embracing this more each day. AND…we can all save that big cushy couch to have a source of comfort each day after exploring new things:)
Happy Weekend, Friend!
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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 6:38 am

Mmmm…yes, here’s to “diving in” to this thing called our life!! And sometimes that’s a graceful dive (well…it would be if I knew how to dive!!), sometimes it’s a cannonball with a great big splash, and sometimes it’s a bellyflop. And it’s all good (even the bellyflop…which might sting a bit) – and we grow into a deeper understanding of ourselves, and expand our possibilities.

…and when the day is done…that big comfy couch sure feels great…

Jen, you are a STAR!! And it’s so, so great having you here…

Much love to you!


Giulietta Nardone October 2, 2011 at 7:59 am

Hi Lance,

I’ve been trying to be “uncomfortable” for quite awhile now. Sensed as early as sophomore year in college that I’d been intentionally terrified.

Always looking for ways to jump into my fears. From standing up and asking questions or making comments wherever I go, to trying new songs, to working with others to go around status quo obstacles, to starting my first organization — The Off-Center For Wild & Disobedient Creativity.

We’re are conditioned (parents, schools, work, media) to be scared, downright frightened about everything, from losing our jobs, to be attacked to being, to saying something politically incorrect, to not protest the system (although the Occupy Wall Street folks are) to maintaining a lifestyle that kill us spiritually and emotionally, to being wrong that we try to avoid really feeling alive and living while we are alive.

It can be hard to jump into our fears after years of being conditioned to accept our artificial fates. The best way is to start small – even a new yoga pose – and build the courage to take new life poses throughout our lives.

Thanks, G.
Giulietta Nardone´s Last Fabulous Post ..Would you stand up for others like Billy Jack did?My Profile


Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Hi Giulietta,
I want in on your Off-Center For Wild & Disobedient Creativity!!!!

Conditioning…that’s such a great point. Yes, we are certainly conditioned in many ways. And when we let that conditioning affect us – we let that four letter word – FEAR – hold us back from our potential.

You, dear friend, really shine at expanding the comfort zone. And the thing is – when you do this, you also give others permission to [at least] consider this too…


Jody - Fit at 53 October 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

The good ole comfort zones!!! I am good at moving out of them in fitness but other areas not so great even though I have tried! Still trying…. 🙂 It is hard & mentally tough but I guess it does make us “grow”.
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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm

You bring up such a great point. In certain areas of our life (like fitness) – we can be more open to “expanding the comfort zone”. And in other areas…well…not so easy.

Something really worth thinking about – and looking at what it is about certain things that makes it easier…


Tess The Bold Life October 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm

This is so good, I don’t know anyone who can’t relate. I signed up to be an ambassador (volunteer) in our town. I hope I’m one of the 15 chosen. It will be fun and out of my comfort zone. I’ve also been doing weight training at the gym. Classes with 40 people in them. 80 year old women can lift more than me….very inspiring;)
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Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 9:16 pm

How awesome – you signing up to be a local ambassador!! And whatever happens – just taking these first steps is huge!

And…wishing you well in the gym – that’s awesome, too!!


David Stevens October 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm

The ‘comfort zones’ are inside our head, Lance. “Spreading” one’s thoughts can introduce one to new zones. Then action steps in…..will I or won’t I? Converting thoughts into action is the formula though often elusive.
I love a nice comfy sofa, some comfort I just can’t give up. I imagine better zones & better comforts. That gets my action sequence happening. Thank you for this.
be good to yourself
David Stevens´s Last Fabulous Post ..What have you always wanted to do but haven’t been able to start?My Profile


Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Action – that’s a great word to go along with this! Yes – when we can take the limitations we have within us – and mentally move beyond them – and then physically step into them – that’s a great place to “be”.

…and then finish off in that nice, comfy sofa…

Thanks David!


Chris Edgar October 2, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Hi Lance — I think yoga is a great way to expand the range of sensations and experiences we’re willing to have. I know that, the more yoga I’ve done, the less anxious I’ve felt about trying new things in my life. I think this is because the yoga poses expose me to sensations I don’t usually experience, and getting more accustomed to those feelings helps me to be okay with putting myself in situations in the outside world that bring those sensations up — new ways of talking with people, new activities, and so on.


Lance Ekum October 2, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Hi Chris,
I love this point – and how you relate yoga poses (and their sensations) to being more comfortable in other new experiences. I love this because it’s not something I’ve considered before – and now plan to focus more on personally in my own life.

Thanks Chris – really appreciate your insight!


Jean Burman October 2, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Hi Lance 🙂

Great topic… so relevant for each and everyone of us! Change absolutely is our only constant. Especially in this fast paced world in which we live. Sometimes I long for a last century life… when the pace was slower… and people were kinder… and it took 6 months to sail around the world in a small wooden boat!

But then I remind myself that the freedom to change required more bravery and commitment back when the world was flat… than it ever would in the relative comfort of this technological world. But change will always be a challenge… we’re just so hardwired to resist it LOL

PS I remember you starting Yoga last year! So glad you’re still hanging in there [somehow I knew you would] Isn’t it great? I go twice a week. For the most part it keeps my head straight and my heart in the right place LOL

You’re doing great things here Lance…
Jean x
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Lance Ekum October 3, 2011 at 5:50 am

Mmmm…sailing in that small wooden boat…that DOES sound nice!

Yoga is going really great – I go once per week (it’s tonight!). And like you, there’s something about it and how good it is for aligning my head/heart with “me”…

So, so wonderful having you here…always…


Jimmy October 3, 2011 at 2:33 am

Ah… Yoga… I did try that many years back. The experience was quite weird just like yours. More women than men. Sexy poses that many inflexible body cannot take. A guy instructor coaching all of us… Many new experiences.

The reason for doing it? Well, my ex- was into it. In fact many new things that I tried was because someone gave me the courage and they went along with me. I guess that’s how one can exit the comfort zone and head to somewhere unknown.

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Lance Ekum October 3, 2011 at 5:52 am

Yes – definitely new experiences!!

And you bring up a great point – sometimes trying new things is easier when there’s someone else along with us – there’s comfort in numbers. Still, for those things that speak from the heart – even when there’s no one we have to take with us, they are still so worth doing…

Thanks for the visit and the comment!


Farnoosh October 3, 2011 at 7:35 am

You are writing about yoga now? I know it’s working, Lance! I remember when you first started, and I remember how much I “nudged” you to go to that first class too. Trust me, many men do yoga and a lot of amazing yoga gurus are, guess what, MEN!!! I am very proud of you. And comfort zones, what’s that? I certainly wasn’t in one at 6am on the bike this morning :), and frankly, I have just about crushed all my comfort zones this year. Feels terrifying and GREAT! 🙂
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Lance Ekum October 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Yes, I AM writing about yoga!! How cool is that, anyway!! And…you, dear friend, most certainly played a role in that “stepping out of the comfort zone” for me – with your encouragement to give it a try. What a great year it has been – seeing how I’ve grown from this experience, how it’s challenged me, and how connecting it is.

I am back from class from earlier this evening – another great session!

And…way to go on that bike!!! That’s been my other thing this summer – I’ve biked a whole ton of miles…and that’s felt so great, also! In fact…I’ll be out there again tomorrow morning…even if the temps are in the 30’s! (I just need to bring warm gloves along!)


Mindful Mimi October 3, 2011 at 8:33 am

Hi Lance,
Your picture and quote made me think about my favorite butterfly quote:
“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” ? Hans Christian Andersen
I thought I’d share that with you as it fits your post well.
Hope all is well with you and your family.
Sending you love and light.


Lance Ekum October 3, 2011 at 10:02 pm

It’s so, so great seeing you here today!!!!!

And – thank YOU for sharing that quote – here’s to sunshine, freedom, and flowers!!!

Big hugs!


jewel October 3, 2011 at 10:57 am

I imagine better zones & better comforts. That gets my action sequence happening. Thank you for this.
be good to yourself I think yoga is a great way to expand the range of sensations and experiences we’re willing to have.


Lance Ekum October 3, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Yoga really is a great way to expand our experiences!!

Thanks for the visit.


Primal Toad October 4, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Congrats on taking up yoga! I’ve been wanting to do yoga for quite a while now. To be honest, I am not sure why I don’t just do it. I don’t have that fear anymore. The fear you talked about in this post creeps up now and then but its not the main deal. The main issue would be money but I could easily take a free yoga class here and there – at least one!

But, I did do zumba a couple of weeks ago for the first time. That totally kicked ass. I’ll be doing it again as soon as I have the $6 for it. It’s not like Yoga but kind of similar in a way. More women and weird moves. A lot of action and an absolute blast.

Time to think about how I want to approach my “change” article for this month and then write it!
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Lance Ekum October 6, 2011 at 5:52 am

Thanks Todd – yoga has been GREAT!

And you bring up another great point, also – sometimes it’s not the fear of something new that holds us back, as much as it is making a choice of where to invest our time and money.

For me, I definitely am more committed to yoga when I have a class to go to. Over the summer, because of other commitments, I did not sign up for any yoga classes. And…I rarely practiced it at home (even though I easily could have). I’m back at it now…and once again, re-committed to this practice (and the class helps facilitate that). There is definitely an expense, though, with doing this – and one that makes me evaluate yoga’s purpose every time I have to pay it.

Great job on the zumba class, by the way – that’s awesome!!


Andrew Walker October 5, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Hm.. Interesting. Thanks for sharing. And like most of people here, I love to try yoga sometimes. But I never really succeed or enjoyed it yet.
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Lance Ekum October 6, 2011 at 5:53 am

…and that’s okay – not everything is for everybody.


Judy Martin October 28, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Thrilled to have found you. When I enter asana, it offers perpetual change. It’s different every time. The breath is different. It’s like a journey without attachment to the end, but only to the process. Rich, contemplative and never ending. It’s never really perfect. That’s why it provides a comfort zone for me. Deep entry into presence – that’s perfect in it’s own way I suppose.
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Ali Davies November 15, 2011 at 1:10 am

Lance, your post is a great reminder that there is real treasure in learning to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.


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