"Comfortably Edgy" ~ Finding The Learning Zone in Your Practice~

Updated: Jan 30

Comfortably Edgy, I think about this a lot... a quote from one of my yoga teachers, Keith Katchick .


Finding this fluid, expansive, and every changing place, that is really no fixed place... in my personal practice and for each of the people I teach... Is at the heart of practice and my teaching.



Where is this place that is comfortably edgy? My experience is that this "place" is where I grow and learn. And, it is where the people I teach, guide, share information, grow and learn with vs. a place of comfort where we remain comfortable, stagnant, unchanged...


People have described these "places" of growth in many ways for centuries in spiritual literature, psychology and education too.



In Yoga we may refer to; Patanjali’s, Yoga Sutra. He describes Yoga as having a balance between effort & ease... In Chapter 2:46: Sthira sukham asanam. A translation may be steady effort and ease, balancing the effort and ease, in asana... Asana are the shapes, we practice, in yoga.


So, exploring in the whole of our flute practice, the steady balancing of effort and ease, is another way of saying "comfortably edgy".


Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist teacher, describes staying in your comfort zone, as a "place we are most attracted to and where we prefer to hang out."


She goes on to say that everyone needs comfort... But if we only hang out there, our life narrows... So, how can we grow there?


The interesting thing is that the more willing we are to step outside our zone of comfort, the MORE comfortable our life becomes...


Her new book: Welcoming the Unwelcome, ~Wholehearted living in a brokenhearted world. I highly recommend it!



Having been a student of Sufism for many years, I love the poet and guide~ Rumi.


He was a Sufi Master, a whirling dervish and poet, who lived 1207 - 1273.


He wrote about learning and growth in this way, in his poem, The Guest House...


This being human is a "guesthouse"... welcome everything, and learn from it. ...


They may be clearing you for some new delight.. invite them in, be grateful for whoever comes... they have been sent as a guide from beyond... to open us and know who we truly are... So whatever comes up in your life and practice is a way to learn and grow from, if we can welcome them in, treat them honorably, laugh with them, be grateful and see them as a guide to growth...


In the 1930's a Soviet Psychologist, Vygotsky created the concept of the zone of proximal development, often abbreviated as ZPD, which came to be a central part of his theory about learning and development.



Another person who has brought a meaningful concept to the forefront of learning is Carol Dweck and her book The Growth Mindset ~ and her website. How we step beyond our comfort zone and start talking to ourself, in a new way (edgy zone) and to change our usual mindset into a GROWTH Mindset... to me this also harkens back to many ancient traditions, that what we say, and how we talk to ourself and others matters.


It's too hard vs. I'll keep trying!


I can't do it vs. How can I improve and get better at this?


I am afraid to make a mistake vs. Mistakes are how I learn!


I don't understand vs. What am I missing?



Today I look at it in these Zones and as the Heart Spiral:


If we stay in our our comfort zone too much, there is no growth for truly knowing our full potential.


I am not saying that being comfortable is a "bad thing". It just is not where we have new awarenesses, that lead to our growth and learning.


If we go too far out from our comfort zone, we come up with all sorts of difficulties and unwanted habits.


So, if we step into making choices in our practice, that are into our comfortably edgy zone, and practice there, gradually our Circle of Comfort becomes LARGER and we EXPAND into places of MORE COMFORT... And everything expands, like an infinite spiral of learning that we are!


BECAUSE if we make a CHOICE to step in to a new area of our Practice, that is slightly uncomfortable, COMFORTABLY EDGY, we will learn and grow. We become more of who we can be and are. As we build our confidence. This gives us more freedom to be our one of a kind unique self! To have confidence to share our voice and be open to the voice of others too.


How do we do this?

There are an infinite possibility of ways!


Each is individual to the person who is practicing and where they are in their personal development, growth and learning.


This is where an experienced teacher can help guide you. It is also using the information given by your chosen teacher and being your own teacher during your daily practice.


Here are a few practical ideas:


1. If you are practicing technique and increasing your speed. Use your metronome to keep track of and challenge your ability to play beautifully and inclusively at faster speeds. This is a way to measure your practice and know how you are growing.


2. If you are developing a more consistently beautiful expressive sound... video record yourself on something specific each day, with the intention of listening to your sound, and seeing what may be inhibiting your full expressive beauty. Being open to listening and seeing ourself, in a non judgmental, but honest way, in a video is always a step outside of our comfort zone! 😆


3. Choose to learn something that you can not yet do, by memory. For example, if you do not know your major scales by heart, or T & G #4, or a mvt. of a piece, or an excerpt, or a beautiful melody.


4. Not practicing regularly? Choose an amount of time your would like to dedicate to your practice and a number of days you would like to do this. Mark it in your calendar, set a timer, share with a friend or teacher you are doing this and record how this effects your learning and growth.


5. How about you pause every 3 minutes, reflect on what you are doing and how your body and mind feel? And, choose how you want to feel and be in your practice vs. auto pilot. :-)


I have many more ideas about how we learn and practice in my 21 Days of Guided Creative Practice Course and also in this blog posts about learning & on chunking.


One more concept is:

The S-M-A-R-T acronym, is another way of describing stepping outside of our Comfort Zone into our Comfortably Edgy place of learning and growth...

S-M-A-R-T choices require us to move outside our comfort zone, explore something new: stretch, measure, agree, record and time.

Success, growth, learning, springs from making dynamic choices!!! vs. static choice, not bound by old habits and beliefs.

S Stretch more than you can reach M Make everything measurable A Agreement with your inner self and those around you

R – Record your progress T Time limits for acting and getting a result

So a BIG part of this process is getting to know

Your 3 ZONES.


It is a worthy thing to experiment with and be curious about knowing. Your teacher can help guide you and you are also your best guide.

Becoming sensitive and aware takes time, persistence and patience.


It is a fluid place, always changing and expanding --- IF we step outside of our comfort zone and into this ALIVE and CREATIVE place of COMFORTABLY EDGY, you will experience it and probably CRAVE it as you will see yourself grow and be more and more of YOU... This is a wonderful thing!!!


I hope that you are a bit more curious now to explore your ZONES during your daily practice.


If you want to join us in a 21 Day or 21 Weeks of Guided Creative Practice.

I have much more about these ideas and how we learn and practice in my 21 Days/Weeks Course. I offer it each month, and is another idea on stepping outside your comfort zone into a place of growth and learning.


Happy Practicing, Exploring your Comfortably Edgy Places and into the Ever Expanding being you are!

~ Jennifer







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