Several years ago I was stepping for the first time on this very footpath. Back then, unknowing of what awaited ahead, I was feeling apprehension about climbing a new mountain. Fast forward a few years ahead, and I’m once more on the same trail, this time more knowledgeable about what lays ahead, both path and mountain, and with a special goal in mind: reach the peak and, no matter what comes up, enjoy it!
My mid-to-high altitude mountain “carrier” started right here on the paths of this very mountain, Toubkal, the highest of North Africa. At that time it was tough, it was an ordeal, it eventually became painful and I didn’t enjoy it much. It remained like a black spot on my memories, it just did not come out right. It should have been fun and enjoyable, a patch of happiness in my book of memories. On the other hand, it taught me that I need to train better if I want climbing a mountain to be easy, or at least easier 🙂 It would take another higher mountain range, namely Himalaya, to teach me that actually I need to reprogram my perceptions if I wanted climbing a mid-to-high altitude mountain to be fun and enjoyable 🙂
I felt like I had a debt to pay and prove myself capable of enjoying climbing Toubkal, the mountain that had put up a mirror in front of me reflecting the ugly side of myself: displeased, unpleasant, uncontrolled. So, Toubkal was going to be my challenger, I came back to match myself against its hardships and this time planned to come out a winner.
Somehow, this time I expected climbing Toubkal to be easy, I knew what I was getting myself into, right? Well, actually it wasn’t so… unlike other times, I couldn’t quite sleep well at altitude, and I had a bit of nausea, an ankle was acting up and my toes were screaming in pain way sooner than planned. I had quite a shortlist of things I could complain about… but then again, did I not say I wanted to prove myself able to enjoy climbing Toubkal in spite of any potential hardship? There you have it! I got what I asked for!
Complaining wouldn’t do much help, and in addition it would only make the experience more unpleasant. I already knew that. Been there, done that! It was high 😉 time to try something different. Remembering David Hawkins’ advice from his insightful book Letting go, I started to practice accepting the pain, the nausea, letting go of the resistance felt towards them, and allowing them to manifest unobstructed. Letting go of the fear and anxiety that the climb would be tough and draining, that the descent will be long and painful on my joints and feet. Letting go of all obstacles blocking me from enjoying the climb. And finding positive aspects that I could be happy about on which to focus my mind, like: I am sharing this experience with people dear to me, and the beauty of the surrounding unique mountainscape. And of course, when the going got tough, simply breath in – step – breath out – step and let the mind be present in only that…
This time when I reached the peak of Toubkal I still had plenty of energy to be able to enjoy being there and sharing the victorious moment with people dear to me. Actually, it is only now that I realize this extra energy was available because I had freed it from the programs of resisting whatever came: pain, nausea, hardship, fatigue, which were in fact siphoning my energy. By letting go and focusing on positive aspects, or just on being present in each step and breath, I had freed up energy that was otherwise pointlessly wasted feeding unhealthy and unsupportive mental programs and processes. Unaware, I had actually been mentally continent 🙂
Once back down at the foot of the mountain, it became clear I had reached my goal: to conquer myself, at least for some moments. There was no inner need to tell anyone about this victory. Only now I feel to share it with you, so it may inspire you to let go and free up the otherwise wasted energy that will then propel you to reach your goals…
Alexandra, your Solaris expedition fairy 😉