How to Break Free from the Cocoon of Your Comfort Zone

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” –Anais Nin

It is a glorious feeling to realize that you have everything you need to expand into more. Peek your head out of your cocoon of limited identity and what you’ll see is a Universe filled with possibility. The urge to leave the cocoon is the same urge that the baby in the womb has to initiate its birth. The womb, which used to feel so safe and comfortable, eventually becomes claustrophobic.

The same thing happens when you realize that you’ve become addicted to comfort and set in your ways. Your cocoon is symbolic of everything that keeps you feeling small, limited and stuck. It’s the thoughts that trap you in a cycle of fear–the desire to go back to sleep instead of waking up to face the light.

Beyond your cocoon is a Universe ripe with abundance and opportunity for expansion, love and peace. The cocoon is simply the illusion of all of the above, because in comfort there is no real peace, only the stagnant shadow of what could be.

Understanding the Cocoon in Action

To free yourself from your cocoon, you must realize what it is and why it exists. I want to remind you that there’s nothing wrong with having a cocoon. No matter your story or who you assume yourself to be, underneath it all resides the most precious jewel of your authentic Self. Your cocoon is simply an obstacle that keeps you from realizing how perfect you are at your core.

Living in your cocoon is like being wrapped in limitation. In simple terms, it is your ego. But we all know the ego is very sneaky. The cocoon of limitation relies on your addiction to comfort. It is the false sense of security that the familiar offers. It’s fuel is fear: fear of intimacy, vulnerability, sadness, judgment and anything that is foreign. The thought patterns and conditioning that hold you back (from trying new things, traveling to strange places, meeting new people, finally taking back your health, going back to school or changing careers) all wrapped up in a tight, insular little package serve to protect only the security of the ego.

Cultivating the Courage to Break Free from Your Cocoon

The Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, explains in his book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, that to break free from the confines of your cocoon requires the courage of a warrior.

Overcoming your own habits and the cultural obsession with always being comfortable and fitting in is not an easy task, but it is a natural one. The stagnant air of the cocoon is hard to breathe. The dark sleepy energy of comfort gets old and the drive to wake up and expand takes over if you let it.

In opening yourself to the possibilities of the Universe, you open yourself to others. You share your light with the world and this fuels a continual renewal of courage. With a lack of awareness, you can easily recreate your cocoon. But even if you do, you’ll know how to recognize it and come back to the light once again.

“Those of us who have left the cocoon and joined the warrior’s world always treat such would-be warriors gently. We respect them, but on the other hand, we don’t just let them lie in their cocoons forever. We gently take the cocooners out of their cocoons and we place them, instead, in the cradle of loving kindness.” — Chogyam Trungpa

Open Your Eyes to the Light of Renewed Perspective

Imagine for a moment a pile of leaves and soil. In the middle of this pile is a precious diamond. The diamond is the core of your being. It is within you at all times. The leaves and soil are your cocoon (your ego trying to cover up the amazing truth of who you really are). Clearing away the detritus is simple, and the detritus itself has a purpose.

As you clear away all that doesn’t serve your most expanded Self, you are transformed. You undergo metamorphosis. The lotus doesn’t bloom without spending time in the thick darkness of muddy waters.

When you break free from your cocoon, you realize there’s nothing to be afraid of. You learn not to construct barriers around your sadness, discomfort and vulnerability because being awake to those experiences is a treasure in it’s own right. You don’t have to pour your energy into rejection and judgment. You are liberated and open to a far greater experience. This is the fruit of having an open and courageous heart. The butterfly that emerges from the cocoon is a gift to all of creation.

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