How to Move Beyond Limitations While Staying in the Comfort Zone: Part 2
Last week’s post, “How to Move Beyond Limitations While Staying in the Comfort Zone“ generated quite a bit of interest, and, more questions. One of the questions that came up was: “What do you mean by the comfort zone?” Certainly not, “just taking it easy!”
I define the comfort zone as that place in which the most learning can occur. If there is too little challenge or interest, then very little learning will happen and boredom can take over, which is not very comfortable. On the other extreme, if there is too much challenge, learning can be disrupted by confusion, frustration, discomfort and even pain.
It’s important to know that we’re talking about a zone that is moveable and malleable. This zone is different for every person and can change from day to day, even minute to minute.
Sometimes I think of the comfort zone with the graphic below:
In a Feldenkrais Method, Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lesson, in order to know where you are in the spectrum above, you usually need to move slowly, and while paying attention to how you move. When you move closer to the red area, the quality of your breath, movement and attention begins to change. You may notice that you start to hold your breath, or brace yourself for discomfort and/or pain. If you regularly cross into this area, you practice protecting even hurting yourself instead of finding ways to expand the learning zone.
In every day life, it’s also possible to:
- Practice staying in the learning zone, by sensing to how you feel, move and act, similar to an ATM lesson.
- Stagnate too far to the right by watching TV and/or starring at an electronic screen for much of your day
- Going off the scale to the left, by hurrying and pressuring yourself, ignoring your body’s need for a rest or change of activity.
Many people spend quite a bit of time living in the red zone by being hurried, stressed out, lacking sleep and pushing themselves too hard. Of course, there are times when life asks you to go into the red area, but then you need ample time to recover. People who over train in sports and then injure themselves have probably spent too much time in the red zone.
It is a commonly held belief that the only way to improve is to push yourself into the red, past your comfort zone. Unfortunately, this often leads to practicing being uncomfortable and adapting to stress. If however, you can begin to recognize the signs of dis-stress, then you can modulate your activities and learn to live in a healthier, more vital state. This leads to more capabilities and thus: improvement.
In the next post, I’ll talk about some ways to keep out of the red even when doing activities that can’t be slowed down or require a certain amount of strength. Until then, stay in the zone!