THE IMPORTANCE OF BOTH COMFORT AND DISCOMFORT FOR WELLBEING
I often speak of comfort and its merits, especially within the context of our homes. How in a world that can feel harsh and cold, creating homes that feel warm and comforting to retreat into for respite and solace is something many of us crave to ease the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
Comfortable and comforting interiors are at the heart of what I see as ‘good design’ for private spaces because our homes serve as places of retreat from the world. Like the grounding power that an embrace can elicit, the sense of safety and relaxing into our own bodies that comes from feeling comfortable are powerful ways of recharging and preparing ourselves to reengage with the world.
And yet for all my evangelising of comfort, I am also a deep proponent of its opposite. Feeling uncomfortable is so essential to living a full and meaningful life that the practice of willingly walking into discomfort is as essential to our ongoing wellbeing as cultivating moments of comfort is.
Learning to live fully means grappling with the excruciating reality of paradox that is so intertwined with what it means to be human that disentangling them requires draining amounts of mental acrobatics and denial. It is impossible to contemplate our Being in any meaningful way without encountering paradox at the very first crossroad of the mystery of our existence.
Carl Jung wrote at length about paradox noting again and again throughout his writing that paradox provides a far more accurate picture of the reality of life than reason or logic ever could. He expressed it beautifully in Psychology and Alchemy by saying that “only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fulness of life”, “without the experience of opposites there is no experience of wholeness”. Jung recognised enormous potential for spiritual growth in learning to hold and become more comfortable with the tension of opposites that is inherent in grappling with paradox. A comfort with paradox can expand our consciousness and enriches our lives.
Bearing sorrow, pain, and loss without denying these difficult experiences is courageous work but it is also deeply uncomfortable. Facing our most feared emotions, the ones that evolution has instilled an urge in us to avoid, is so profoundly uncomfortable that most of us will do all we can to deny or avoid feeling them. It takes tremendous courage to lean into these feelings and to face them willingly. To take that uncomfortable step toward allowing ourselves to feel what is painful so that we can face it, get to know its sharp and raw edges, and integrate the entirety of our experiences takes bravery and heart and demands an ability to sit with discomfort. But only when we integrate and accept the full reality of our experiences, including the rich and deeply human story of suffering and loss inherent in all of our lives, can we begin to live from a place of wholeness.
The process of moving between comfort and discomfort, of walking into discomfort willingly and then taking the time to retreat by doing something deeply comforting, helps us to face and integrate reality in a healing way.
Moments of comfort created through the small rituals we put in place in daily life help to balance out the pain of growth by creating a sense of safety and allowing us to arrive back in our bodies and connect with our sense of self. This re-connecting with the self within moments of safety, calm, and comfort generates a kind of robustness that allows us to deal with the onslaught of emotion that is often associated with facing our pain and our losses. Knowing that we have moments of safety and comfort to fall back on allows us to lean into these challenging feelings without being entirely overwhelmed by them. And it is this ability to move toward and then retreat from discomfort that is so essential for integration and growth to be able to occur without overwhelming us.
Our homes can be an important tool in the process of integration. We can control our home environment, as well as what we choose to do within it, in a way that is seldom possible in more public spaces, making it uniquely conducive to fostering feelings of safety and a connection to our personal story and sense of self. Our homes can be shaped into being physical manifestations and reinforcers of our values and sense of self on the one hand, and shrines that honour our losses on the other.
Our homes can help us heal from the discomfort inherent in facing our pains and losses rather than avoiding them. As we push ourselves toward growth and wholehearted living by willingly crossing over the thresholds of safety into discomfort, our homes can serve as a physical counterweight, keeping us rooted within a strong foundation of a connection to our bodies and to our sense of self. The comfort of our homes can help us to bear the discomfort of doing the hard work of living fully.
Images above show our Belgian Linen Bedding Set in Natural White, Tan Striped Belgian Linen Cushion Covers, Belgian Linen Fitted Sheets in Pure White, Heavy Washed Belgian Linen Tablecloth in Ecru, Copper Kettle, Handmade Heavy Linen Napkin Set in Warm White, Brass Coffee Pour Over Stand, Handmade Fluted Side and Dinner Plates, Handmade Fluted Soup Bowls, Shuro Palm Trivet (large), Classic French Table Glasses, Pallares Solsona Kitchen Knife (medium), Hand Carved Coffee Scoop, Copper Tea And Coffee Canisters and Hand Carved Condiments Spoon and Cotton Lantern Lampshade.