Activity generously provided by Swami Jaya Devi Bhagavati of Kashi Atlanta
Group size: 5 - 25
Purpose: Normalizes fear, creates joyful acceptance of being imperfect, promotes courage
Props Needed: Growth Zone Practice Handout
Prep time needed: 5 minutes
Prior to class
- Become Familiar with concept of Growth and Comfort zones
- Print handout with identified practices
- Directions: 5 minutes
- Activity: 45 minutes
- Debrief: 15 minutes
Set Up: Have participants gather around tables or provide clipboards if you are going to have in group journaling.
- Have the participants sit comfortably remember it would be helpful to have a hard surface if you are wanting participants to write during group.
- Read The Growth Zone
- Discuss reading
- Introduce Growth Zone practices
“Have a seat everyone. Today we are going to talk about a different aspect of the change process called the Growth Zone. What do you think of when you hear the words Growth Zone? (allow for group discussion) Listen to this reading and see what you think.
The Growth Zone
By Swami Jaya Devi Bhagavati
We live in a world infatuated with perfectionism. In many ways, we strive to do better, be better and constantly “do the right thing.” We want to be good and to earn our worth through right action. But we often end up placing our self-worth outside of ourselves, in our work, our appearance, or our relationships. We lose sight of the fact that we are loved and lovable exactly as we are, that we do not have to do anything to earn love, we only have to remember that we are love.
When we are young, we are exposed to a variety of different learning experiences. We take many different classes in school. Some of us play a wide range of sports, sing in choir, play an instrument in band, write poems and essays, act in the school play, paint or draw in art class. We have the courage to try new skills regularly because we ourselves are new, and opening ourselves to untested experiences seems normal. We often test and stretch beyond our comfort zone in an exuberant and exploratory manner. We reach out to the world with a child’s natural sense of joy and curiosity.
Inevitably, the time comes when we try something unfamiliar – like roller skating or playing the tuba – where we find no natural skill or expertise within us. We may fall in front of our peers in a messy, clothes-over-the-head heap. We may experience fear, embarrassment, humiliation or shame. Others may laugh at our expense or judge us. In these moments, we come smack up against our imperfection, our humanity, and our vulnerability. How we deal with these perceived shortcomings has a powerful impact on our self-worth. If we are raised to expect and display perfection, we often lose sight of the playful arena just outside our comfort zone, which I call the Growth Zone.
Your Growth Zone is just beyond the perimeter of your comfort zone. You access it by working your growing edge, by opening yourself to explore new ideas, experiences and concepts. You access growth by opening your heart and becoming emotionally available and present. People often avoid their growth zone by over-emphasizing the feeling of emotional safety, by wanting to remain comfortable or by staying in ruts of thought or behavior. What is safe is not always what is fulfilling, kind, or joyful. It is not always what is most creative or most conscious.
In recovery, you want to create a realm of safety for your physical, mental and emotional well-being, but not at the cost of authentic vulnerability. Because you are human, you have the ability to live with your heart open, where you are available to experience love as a way of being in the world. This is an elemental quality shared by all humanity. When you stay hidden inside your comfort zone, you limit your experience of love and deep, satisfying connection with other people.
Finding and experiencing your comfort zone is a wonderful thing. As children, when we feel comfortable, we often feel loved, safe, and relaxed. We can feel at peace with ourselves. Our comfort zone is elemental to our well-being and can be filled with creative, simple, satisfying experiences. But as adults, our comfort zone is rarely where we grow.
We must access courage to fulfill the longing of our hearts. Taking up the tools of courage and curiosity, we begin to grow when we stretch beyond what we already know. We grow when we step into uncertainty, into unfamiliar territory. We grow when we reach into the dark ground of our creativity and explore. We grow when we make ourselves vulnerable. We grow when we try something new, when we can laugh at our insecurities and ourselves. We grow when we normalize our fears, when we expose them with love and acceptance. This awakens our joy of being alive and our ability to connect with other, equally fallible humans. It softens our inner hearts and rekindles our sense of humor. When we can love and accept who we are with all our mistakes and successes, we overcome shame. We are okay with who we are. We are okay with being us, with loving and failing and getting up and trying again. We embrace our messy, imperfect nature. We try not to judge ourselves or anyone else too harshly. We open to the wild sacred dance of all of life but mostly we choose love anyway. We choose love over fear, expansion over contraction, joyful exploration over unworthiness. Choice by choice, moment by moment, we lay down our fears, take up our courage and love anyway.
© 2016 Kashi Atlanta
What thoughts come up for you as you reflect on this reading? (allow for group discussion, if necessary use debrief prompts to spark conversation)
Here is one of the Growth Zone practices. (pass out the circling up handout) We are going to do a Growth Zone Practice called Circling Up. Take a moment to reflect on what you just learned. What would you say is inside of your comfort zone? List the items that make up your current Comfort Zone. When you have completed that, fill out the items that can be found in your Growth Zone. Feel free to be as creative as you can. There are no wrong answers. These are things that you currently believe are just outside of your edge of comfort. We have found it beneficial to start with items that are just outside of your comfort zone rather than starting with things that are way outside of your comfort zone. Does anyone have any questions? (address participant questions) (This activity can be done in group or as homework to be reviewed in the next session, be sure to leave time to debrief the activity)
- What thoughts come up for you as you reflect on this reading?
- How do you know when you are in your comfort zone?
- How do you know when you are in your growth zone?
- What does it take to move from your growth zone to your comfort zone?
- What keeps you in your comfort zone?
Recovery/Wellness Metaphor: By naming and claiming the comfort zone we are more likely to gain access to the growth zone.
Role of Facilitator: provide education on the concepts of the comfort zone and the growth zone. Guide participants in the growth zone practices.
Here are some additional Growth Zone Practices as given by Swami Jaya Devi
- List 5 things you are currently bad at or have room for improvement. Now Select one that you are willing to do. This practice is geared towards normalizing fear while, creating joyful acceptance of being imperfect.
- List 5 things that expand you, that make you feel more alive. Select one you are willing to do and try it out. This practice is excellent and creates courage.
- Oops Mantra. Don’t try to cover up your mistakes, embracing them is where you grow the most. Don’t try to defend or be right, just apologize well and be good at being wrong. Doing this normalizes “doing bad” without “being bad”, this practice creates a sense of self-worth by separating actions from the actor.
- Practices to reclaim self-worth: Repeat the following mantra. Breathing in “I am loved, I am love” breathing out “I am loved, I am love”.
Where to Find It/How to Make it:
For more information and teachings by Swami Jaya Devi please visit the Kashi Atlanta Website at www.kashiatlanta.org
Growth Zone Practice – Circling Up
Take a moment to reflect on what you just learned. What would you say is inside of your comfort zone? List the items that make up your current Comfort Zone. When you have completed that, fill out the items that can be found in your Growth Zone. Feel free to be as creative as you can. There are no wrong answers. These are things that you currently believe are just outside of your edge of comfort. We have found it beneficial to start with items that are just outside of your comfort zone rather than starting with things that are way outside of your comfort zone.
Once you have an exhaustive list filling both your comfort zone and growth zone select one item in your growth zone that you are willing to try.
I am willing to try ______________________________________________________________________
I will ask ____________________________ for help when _____________________________________
I intend to start this practice _____________________________________________________________
I will ask ____________________________ to hold me accountable by saying/doing ________________