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Claustrophobia of Comfort

Exploring the 3 primal energies of nature.

photo from pixabay
Source: photo from pixabay

“I have stepped outside my comfort zone enough to know that, yes, the world does fall apart, but not in the way that you fear.”

—Tan Le

I know very few people who are able to get all comfy in a comfort zone and stay put forever after. Many of us get antsy. We want something more or different.

We feel the urge to grow or expand.

A comfort zone that was once cozy starts making us feel claustrophobic.

Others really crave the comfort of that zone. They fight tooth and nail to stay within its borders. They plan carefully and avoid anything that might drag them into a new unknown. But as much as they’d like to, even they don’t get to stay still.

Because the thing is, life doesn’t work that way.

Just look at the seasons: Summer turning into autumn which is on its way to winter and then spring. Plant life follows these seasonal rhythms: budding, blooming and finally dying. Animals and birds move with the seasons and respond to the shortening days. Everything follows a cycle and nothing remains stagnant.

One of the laws of Huna (the indigenous spiritual, mental and psychological healing system of the Hawaiian Islands that I teach) says that there are three energies of life and that these energies exist in a cycle. The energies are: be, do and have. And it’s really impossible to cement yourself within one of the energies and not move—or be moved.

Huna isn’t the only ancient system to talk about this. According to Yoga and Ayurveda, all of nature has three primal qualities called gunas in Sanskrit. They are the energies of starting (satwa), changing (rajas) and stopping (tamas). Yogis say that you need to understand and work with these energies to continue on your path.

Even physicists—the gurus of this age— talk about these three energies. In a Discovery Channel show I saw a few years back, several physicists showed various examples of two things colliding into each other. Then they describe what was happening as, " the creation, the transformation, the death of the energy as it was before.” They said the energy was just becoming something new— only to transform into something else again, and that's all energy does. They were literally describing Huna’s be, do and have.

So according to many different perspectives, your comfort zone is not the stable, unchanging state some of you wish it was. It’s just a step along the way—though maybe more accurately, an escalator that is moving whether you choose to be moving or not!

The key is to learn about these three energies and how to work with them. When you do, you find that you have the juice and energy to accomplish what you want. When you don’t, you end up freaking out trying to hang on to a state that is naturally transforming, like running down the up escalator.

The first energy is being, which is also called starting. In astrology it's called sex because sex is the act of creation. It could be that moment when you decide on a new goal and create a plan to achieve it. It could be initiating a relationship with someone you’re attracted to, founding a new company, or envisioning a new product.

The next energy is doing or changing things. My kumu (teacher) in Huna described it as action and movement. From an astrological standpoint and even in some of Carl Jung’s work, this is the energy of transformation. This is when you take that new idea and work to make it concrete. It’s when you are in that relationship and spending time with one another figuring out how (or if) you fit together. This is when you take your plan and execute on your plan.

The final energy is having or stopping things. Stopping implies bringing something to a completion. In many systems, this energy is called death. Having is often the place where people think they’ll want to land and stay. “As soon as I have XYZ, I’ll be happy!” But the truth is that XYZ rarely makes us as happy as we thought. The natural cycle of the energies makes sure that we feel dissatisfied. You’ve achieve a certain state of being. You go through a transformation, things change, and a death occurs: a death of the old way of being. Because from that position, you can see the next horizon.

So the relationship that started out as a casual thing usually either has to go to the next level of commitment or fade away. Either way, the current relationship must die to be transformed. You’ve reached your goal and now it’s time to set your energies toward a new goal. You’ve started that new company and now it needs to keep transforming to keep up with the competition, your customers’ needs, and/or economic conditions.

These energies are in a constant cycle. If you work with them— not against them— and pay attention to which energy you’re in, you’ll feel very energized. You’ll continually shed the old and move toward the new, expanded version of yourself. It’s like recurring rebirth as you become each new person. As Robin Sharma puts it, “As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.”

If you want to live a life that is full and fulfilling, trust me, that comfort zone is not where you want to take up residence even if the three energies would let you.

“To the degree we're not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves.”

— Peter McWilliams

To your TOTAL empowerment!


Dr. Matt.


Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, the world's leading integrative personal development company for over 30 years. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students towards excellent health and personal empowerment using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, and Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy. Stay connected with Dr. Matt on Facebook or visit his blog at