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Home >> Pilgrim's Pages  >> Life begins at the end of the comfort zone
 

Life begins at the end of the comfort zone

“Great things never came from comfort zones,” read a quote in the hotel lobby where I was put up during my trip to Bhutan. I had contemplated much about this trip. I had cancelled my tickets once, simply because I had not wanted to get out of my comfort bubble—the trip included many treks, which I personally was not very fond of.

However, after much deliberation, I decided to go ahead and book my tickets. And here I was, waiting for the cab to take me to the renown Taktsang Palphug Monastery in the picturesque Paro Valley. From Ramthangkha, the base point, the monastery looked like a tiny speck of white dust. And the path unwinding and steep.

For a couch potato like me, a trek uphill seemed impossible. In fact, this was the first time in my adult life that I was hiking. The last time I trekked was back in my school days. And trust me I did not enjoy the experience. I looked at my guide with a sad face that spoke volumes about how reluctant I was to take the trek. But I had no other go. I had woken up early and travelled quite a distance to reach the basepoint on a cold winter morning. And, now if I didn’t climb the hill, it would be a waste of time and energy. Moreover, by hiking I wouldn’t be losing anything. In fact, it would be one of those times, when I finally would have got out of comfort zones. So, I decided to go ahead with the plan.

The five-km trek uphill began in the luscious pine forests. Birds chirped at a distance, accompanied by the sound of prayer bells at a distance. In the first leg of the journey, I took many water breaks, exchanged pleasantries with fellow climbers. As we hiked further, the path became steeper, making it a difficult climb. After a point, my legs were ready to give up, and I was huffing and puffing for breath. I wanted to go back. When I looked down, I realised that I had already covered quite a distance. Somewhere, deep down, I was happy about the progress I had made so far. It pushed me to scale further. I set small targets for myself and covered rest of the distance.

I finally reached a point where I could get a glimpse of the monastery. It was surreal. Taktsang Palphug resembled a white castle adjoining the mountains, sitting in a treacherous position. From this point onwards, I enjoyed walking in the forest, with cold wind sweeping the curls off my face, and kissing my cheeks. At the end of trail was a stairway which led to a waterfall. And from there we climbed another flight of stairs to the monastery. At this point, I felt the journey wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

I had scaled my fear of stepping out of my comfort zone just like I had scaled the hill.


Another 850 steps, I was at the entrance of the monastery. I wondered why someone would want to build a monastery on top of a hill. Legend has it that the temple complex was built around Taktsang Senge Samdup cave in the 16th century. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava, who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan, meditated in the cave for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the eighth century. Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche appeared on the mountain on a flying tigress. Thus, the monastery came to be called the tiger’s nest.

Standing at the crest, I could understand why Padmasambhava had chosen this place to meditate. The peace and quiet I experienced on the top of the hill was unparalleled. While enjoying the fascinating view, I realised one more thing—getting outside my comfort zone wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. When I looked down from there I could see beautiful valleys, streams and lush green forest. I felt what a worthwhile journey this was. Had I cancelled the trek, I would have lost out on something that was worth my time and effort. And it came with a very important life lesson.

Up until then, I had lived a life confined to my comfortable space. I was stuck in a rut doing the same old things and getting the same results, which was frustrating. But this trek opened my eyes to a bigger reality of venturing outside the bubble and exploring infinite possibilities. Finally, I had scaled my fear of stepping out of my comfort zone just like I had scaled the hill.

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