Seeking comfort vs. seeking care

I got to go to this amazing training yesterday in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), an approach first developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. When Kabat-Zinn created MBSR, mindfulness was viewed as fringey, new-agey, and “weird” (at least in the United States). Now it’s everywhere! Mindfulness-based strategies are super effective, and the science really does back them up. Google mindfulness & evidence and you’ll see what I mean.

A quick definition for you:

+ Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without telling a story about it (i.e. without judgment or opinions).

It’s about experiencing what IS, and watching what thoughts or emotions come up with curiosity and compassion. Through mindfulness, we can become aware of how the stories we tell ourselves change our experience, and how our attempts to avoid the present moment often create additional suffering.

So back to the training I was at. One of the things that stood out to me most is the idea that seeking comfort is not the same as seeking care.

* Seeking comfort is an escape *

* Seeking care is rejuvenating *

Does this mean seeking comfort is bad? Not bad, no. Sometimes we need or want to escape a strong emotion or a difficult situation temporarily. But it’s easy to confuse the 12-hour Netflix binge or the whole pizza or the bottle of wine with “self-care,” when really those things are escapes from reality. Patterns of comfort-seeking can even turn into addictions. But when you’ve truly taken care of yourself, you FEEL BETTER AFTERWARD. Your energy returns. You are restored.

There are no black-and-white definitions for care or comfort. It all depends on your relationship to the experience you’re creating. My idea of seeking care might look very different from yours.

I will definitely be integrating MBSR strategies into my upcoming group series, Battling Burnout. If you could use some new ways to de-stress, sign up to find out more here>>