On a recent trip to Golden Gate National Park I decided to take a hike on one of the less popular trails up to the top of the Maluti Mountains. I envisaged an exquisite view and absolute peace. Shortly after commencing my hike the path seemed to disappear.
Given that it was one of the less popular routes that was not on the map issued by the parks board, I assumed that the path had become overgrown. So I kept on walking, occasionally finding an animal trail which would disappear but again I kept on walking, keeping the top of the mountain in sight.
As I kept looking up at the sheer rock before me, I looked around to find a tuft of grass or plant or protruding rock that I could use as a foothold or grab on to, to pull myself up. I was determined to get to the top.
There were moments that I trusted that nature would support my weight and prevent me from falling to my death. Whilst hanging on for dear life, especially after one of the plants I so trustingly grabbed onto pulled out of the soil and was left in my hand, I kept on going.
I began to be aware of my mental chatter. It was not calm. I was anxious about falling knowing the sheer face that I was climbing. As I carefully placed my hands and feet where I thought that nature would support me, I started thinking about snakes and saw the ticks attached to my clothing. I soon forgot about the pain the splinters in my hands were causing.
Still focussed on getting to the top, I kept on going, somehow finding a way to the top.
The view was breath-taking, I could see for miles and hear the birds chirping in the blazing hot sun. Whilst exploring the top, my mental chatter got louder, creating more anxiety about how I wouldn’t be able to get down safely as I was still not able to find a path.
Being distracted by the anxiety, I did not enjoy the moment of being at the top or feel proud that I had finally made it to the top without falling to my death. I began to descend as I was terrified that I would not make it down the mountain alive or without injury as I still couldn’t find the path.
Once, I consciously decided to relax and told myself that nature would show me the way, I began to see a possible path or a foothold one step at a time. In each moment, I had to work with what I had and make a decision from there. Literally one step at a time, moving moment by moment. I did not fall and I made it back safely.
How often do you let your mental chatter steal your joy from the present moment?
When was the last time you were able to ‘just be’? Just be in the present moment and enjoy what is happening right now. Being in your body, feeling how it allows you to experience life. Listening to the sounds around you, feeling your feet on the ground be it uneven or not, feeling the wind or sun on your skin, smelling the scent in the air.
Especially when life is overwhelming, and your mind is working overtime. Breathe. Slow down, even if it is only for a few seconds to take stock of where you are and what you are experiencing in that moment through your senses.