Header: Steve Johnson via Unsplash.

Did you go out for a walk in your surroundings and engage in a conversation with Nature as I invited you to do in my previous blog post “If you really listen, what does Nature tell you?”? How was your experience? What did you learn about Nature, and most importantly, about yourself through this activity? If you didn’t manage to try it out yet, that’s okay too.

Maybe just the idea of going for a walk, let alone engaging in a dialogue with Nature, is out of your comfort zone. I remember that there was a time when I didn’t really enjoy walking in Nature (and would rarely do so) and I have to thank a loved one for getting me into hiking. But this month’s all about trying out new ways, so why not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone? I certainly did so this past Sunday when I went for a morning hike at 8am – the temperature was still below 0°C but the sun had just risen and the sky was crystal clear. I couldn’t resist the temptation so I wore warm clothes and got out of the house. And as soon as I found myself surrounded by olive trees, I forgot all about the cold and took pleasure in immersing myself in the beauty around me. Here is a snippet from my walk (the Medieval castle and clock tower you see in the far distance is where I live).

Let’s leave Nature walks to return to the idea of trying out new things this month. You might be familiar with the image below that describes the area “where the magic happens” as outside of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is, well, comfortable. And that’s a great place for you to have access to because at times you need to retreat somewhere that feels familiar and secure. Always being outside of your comfort zone can be quite tiring as it demands focus, energy, and effort. But you don’t really grow in the comfort zone because, well, it’s too comfortable. If you want to grow, you have to leave your comfort zone and navigate in the so-called “learning” or “stretch” zone. This zone, unlike the comfort zone, is a place of relative anxiety and uncertainty, but to an extent that is manageable for you and that stimulates you. Too much and you slide into the “panic” zone which is not a good place for learning. There, you are simply overwhelmed and your learning is hindered. The ideal place to be is the stretch zone, with the possibility of retreating into the comfort zone from time to time to rest. By paying frequent visits to your learning zone, you will be able to expand your comfort zone little by little and build the confidence and resilience to push the limits of your stretch zone further.

It is with the intention of pushing you out of your comfort zone that I would like to introduce you to a collaborative painting wellbeing practice. This is a group activity that fosters a sense of connection and bonding, togetherness and healing through the power of arts and creativity. As George Braque reminds us, “Art is a wound turned into light.” It is my hope that through this practice you will be able to heal a lot of the wounds caused by this unprecedented year and spend some quality time with your team. Since the pandemic has put a lot of constraints on what you can or cannot do with your team, here is how you can adapt this recipe to ensure the health and safety of your team:

  • If there are no restrictions due to COVID-19 where your team is based, you can go ahead with the activity as it is explained, i.e. working on a big canvas altogether.
  • If your team can meet in person but there are strict social distancing rules, you can adapt this activity by asking everyone to start with a separate canvas (well distanced between each other, of course). Then after a while, everyone rotates and goes to a different canvas so they can add to someone else’s work. You repeat this process at different intervals, ensuring a clear direction in the rotation to avoid gathering in particular spots of the room. This approach is also very powerful and by the end, you will realise that it will be difficult to distinguish an individual’s work as other people have contributed to their canvas.
  • If your team is working remotely but you would like to go ahead with this activity, you can invite people to paint by themselves in their premises but still do so whilst being connected with everyone else online. Even without the sense of “collaboration”, people would feel a sense of “togetherness” in this shared experience.

May you experience flow and enjoy the power of being fully present in the here and now.

You can access the full guidelines here. The theme for the next month is "Do Good December" so the next article will explore ways to wrap up your year in a meaningful way.

You can access our tbd* / Recipes for Wellbeing Calendar and read more recipes from Greta here.

About Greta and Recipes for Wellbeing

Greta Rossi is a changemaker involved in multiple not-for-profit initiatives, including Recipes for WellbeingAkasha InnovationPitch Your Failure, and ChangemakerXchange. Recipes for Wellbeing works towards shifting the culture of changemaking to include a focus on holistic wellbeing to enable anyone to contribute more effectively to creating positive change in the world. From freely accessible wellbeing recipes, through wellbeing talks and workshops, to immersive wellbeing labs, we make wellbeing accessible to changemakers and their teams. If you’d like to host a talk, workshop, or retreat for your team or organisation, reach out to us at info@recipesforwellbeing.org.

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