Habit, Comfort, & Courage (pt. 1)
I'm so excited to dive into this next focus with you!
Over the next 3 weeks, we’re going to play with sensing our habits, comfort zones, and the courage to explore what lies beyond.
We'll start this week with simply noticing and sensing our movement habits and comfort zones.
As we dance, we'll tune into questions such as:
What are my current movement habits?
How might my habits and comfort zones differ?
Where are my edges? Where do I want them to be?
What do I sense as I get close to an edge?
Why explore habits, comfort zones, and beyond?
Awareness. We’ll develop our concentration and mindfulness by focusing on sensing these zones moment-to-moment.
Self-discovery. We’ll tune in and learn more about ourselves at this time in our life.
Empowerment. We’ll strengthen our courage muscles by practicing choosing to go beyond what is comfortable.
Freedom. Through practice, we'll maintain our comfort zones, become more comfortable with experiencing discomfort, and help new things become more comfortable through repetition. All together, we’ll expand our options and create more freedom for ourselves.
Health. They say variety is the spice of life... It is definitely the spice of health and fitness. The key to creating and maintaining a healthy, adaptable, resilient, fit body: moving through a large variety of ranges of motion, intensities, planes, and forms of energetic expression.
Intro to habits and comfort zones.
So to begin, we'll start by tuning into our habits and comfort zones as we dance. We'll simply pay attention, sense, and become aware of them.
We can use the following terms to guide us as we explore this concept:
Habit zone: the ways I habitually move & live. These have been learned and repeated. I don't need to think about them. These movements are automatic. My mind is free to think about other things.
Comfort zone: the additional ways I am also comfortable moving and living (but don’t always go there). Usually this zone is broader than one's habits.
Edge: the border between my comfort zone and everything beyond it.
Everything else: The unknown. Everything beyond the edge of my comfort zone. It may be painful… uncomfortable… neutral… comfortable… enjoyable… It may even be blissful…. We don’t know yet. It is unknown.
In-class example: dancing a grapevine.
Habit: the way I automatically, habitually grapevine. The size of step I normally take. The way I usually move my arms. Automatic. Habitual.
Comfort zone: the many potential ways I am comfortably able to do the grapevine. How much smaller or larger of a step I could comfortably take. How much more or less I could move my arms. How fluid, expressive, powerfully, intensely, etc. that I am comfortable doing it. Comfy. Familiar.
Edge: the boundaries (either direction) I don’t tend to go beyond.
Everything else: the unknown. What if I step even further? What if I step 1/10 as far? What if I change the angle slightly? What if I move my arms differently? What if I don’t move them at all? What if I go higher? Lower? What if I grapevine in a sillier-looking way? A sexier way? A more aggressive way? What if I moved much less? Bouncier? Smoother? More powerfully? This area is unfamiliar. New. Potentially uncomfortable. Potentially awesome. Unknown.
Outside of class example: driving a car.
Habit: what, when, where, and how I normally drive. Automatic. Habitual.
Comfort zone: the many potential ways, places, conditions, and vehicles I am familiar with and comfortable driving. Comfy. Familiar.
Edge: the conditions in which I don't usually drive, either because they are unknown, uncomfortable, or I fear it will be uncomfortable. Or perhaps I simply have never thought to try it, haven't had the opportunity, or don't think of myself the type of person to drive that way.
Everything else: the places, weather conditions, levels of traffic, vehicles, times of day, beyond which I either avoid, haven't experienced yet, or haven't experienced in a long time. Driving different kinds and sizes of vehicles. More difficult weather conditions (rain, snow, ice, wind...). Faster speeds. More traffic. At a later hour. At a busier hour. For a longer length of trip. Driving in a new country. Driving on different terrain. Tricks for fun, such as donuts. Drag-racing. Hill climbing. Dune buggy-ing. Mud-running. Motorcycling. Snowmobiling. Driving a moped, gator, golf cart, four-wheeler, or tractor. Any ways in which driving is beyond my comfy edge. Unfamiliar. New. Potentially uncomfortable. Potentially awesome. Unknown.
How do habits + comfort zones differ?
Your habits and comfort zones may or may not be the same. Just because something has become a current habitual way of moving/being, doesn't mean it is necessarily a limit or edge in regards to your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is likely larger than just your day-to-day habit zone.
For example, in class, there is likely a way you tend to dance the common jazz square. But that is not necessarily the limit to how dancing the jazz square is comfortable for you. Your tendency is simply a habit.
So why go beyond habit?
Habits aren't negative by any means. In fact, they can be wonderful! They are your brain's way of being very efficient. You've learned the jazz square, you've done it a million times, and you can now do it on auto-pilot. You don't need to think about it, which allows your brain to focus on other things.
So why focus on going beyond habit? Because variety is also wonderful and very important for our bodies and our health. So, although, we have learned the jazz square, if we change up how we dance the jazz square every now and then, we'll excite and stimulate our tissues, joints, and nervous system in all sorts of additional ways, further enhancing our body's pliability, adaptability, and overall health and resilience. And not only does variety help us to maintain (or reclaim) our full ranges of motion, capability, and functioning, it's also invigorating, empowering, and... fun!
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
Diving in with curiosity...
One thing I often need to remind myself is: we are not bound by older versions of us.
Just because something was a habit or beyond our comfort zone in the past, doesn't mean it is today. Sometimes we just need to override (or clean out?) some old programming.
We are always changing, learning, growing, evolving. Today you are a new you! You have never been today's you before. Who knows-- if you try it (whatever it might be) today, it might actually feel quite comfortable or easy. You may even LOVE it now.
So stay curious this week, friends... Stay open... Your edges might surprise you. :)
The fastest, cleanest, most joyful way to break out of your own box is by dancing. I'm not talking about doing the stand-and-sway. I'm talking about dancing so deep, so hard, so full of the beat that you are nothing but the dance and the beat and the sweat and the heat. -Gabrielle Roth
Alright friends, ready to dance?
This week's practice:
Sensing our habits, comfort zones, and edges.
This week is all about gathering data. :)
As we dance, we'll focus on sensing our:
Questions you could play with in class:
How do you tend to move (at this time in your life)? What are your habits?
Are there additional ways you are comfortable moving, but don’t when on on auto-pilot?
Are there movements/choreography that feel less comfortable?
Where are your edges? Are there ways you’d like to move your body, but don't currently? This could included going either direction on any spectrum; more or less of anything.
Do you ever hold back out of fear that your movement will be/look/feel too _______ (sexy, childish, silly, old, powerful, aggressive, shy, weak, lazy, serious, bold, etc.)
How do you tend to use your voice in class? Do you feel comfortable to sing, hi-yah, or share thoughts in the circle? Do you feel comfortable not to?
We can also play with more external ways of expressing ourselves... such as clothing or hair. What do you tend to habitually wear? What clothes are within your comfort zone? Do you ever want to wear something else, but shy away from doing so?
What does it feel like as you get close to the edge of your comfort zone? What sensations do you notice in your body?
Questions you could play with outside of class:
How do you tend to move through life?
What are your habits? How do you walk? Talk? Sit? Stand? Relax?
How do you use your voice? At home, work, with friends, or on social media?
How do you express yourself in the world?
Do you ever hold back out of fear that you will look/sound/be too _______?
Where are the edges of your comfort zone?
Then stay tuned, friends...
Next week, we'll explore maintaining our comfort zones...
And the following week, expanding them.
As always, I can't wait to see what we discover and learn together.
See you on the dance floor, friends!