Going Over the Edge

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Reflections on Inner Trust

I recently headed out on a road trip to Zion; a mother/son journey to connect and nurture our desire for adventure and the great outdoors. Somewhere new for the both of us; the four-day excursion held the promise of sweeping vistas, time disconnected from our devices, and lots of “firsts” designed to get us out of our comfort zone and squarely in the present moment. My life undoubtedly has been taking on a new frequency this last year, as reflected to me by the closure of relationships that no longer served, and patterns finally loosening their grip with new opportunities, people, and places appearing.  The trip signified this newness and boy did it deliver; the perfect mirror to see a reflection of the deep change that had been percolating within me.

Mother son roadtrip to Zion begins!            Our adventure was a series of firsts. Our first solo mother/son adventure, first time glamping, first timeto Zion, first time driving in snow, and—most significant— first time canyoneering.  It’s been said in many ways, but the sentiment remains the same: magic happens when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. “Our comfort zone” also refers to our patterned ways of being, which is the specialty of our subconscious mind. Here our brain attempts to consolidate stimuli and create efficient patterns. These patterns, or “programs,” result in predictable outcomes. The “magic” of getting out of your comfort zone lies in the fact that it is only in these moments of total presence, that we are operating from the conscious mind, and in which we can make new and different choices in our life. Such presence is also the fertile ground of lasting memories, when mixed with emotion, which charges the event with potency. So here in our adventure began, a looking glass in which we could see the inner workings of our psyche.

Zion National Forest

Using the trip as a metaphor for our engagement with life, we can better understand our personal nature, attitudes, and patterned ways of being.  I’ll be using our experience canyoneering, but you could use any number of circumstances as a micro-illustration of your macro views on life. Diagnosing areas where our habits and perspective are either positive and helpful or rigid and limiting. For instance, my pre-game preparation for the trip was relaxed and casual. I had booked our accommodations, adventures, and had everything neatly printed out. However, I hadn’t yet opened a Zion book, packed the morning of, and had just barely gotten the car in for its annual maintenance to ensure a smooth ride a day earlier. This adequately reflects my general nature – not overly detail oriented and easy going allowing the flow of life to lead me once I’ve set a general direction—you get the idea!  This method may seem less then awe inspiring in this simple example, but can help us gleam much greater insight when observing more hidden aspects of our nature.

 Canyoneering provided just such an insightful mirror and I gleamed many insights from my engagement with it. Inside Zion National Park. If you aren’t familiar with this term, canyoneering can involve a collection of activities while exploring a canyon: hiking, repelling, traversing narrow gaps, etc.  Our exploration relied not just on physical ability, but on our own confidence and trust.  In conversation with our guide, I found it interesting that some young children were able to do this adventure, and he commented that those most successful had been Montessori taught; concluding that confidence gained doing everyday chores for themselves (a Montessori staple)  gave them more of the same when engaging with everyday life. This confidence allows us to have faith in our own ability to take on and push through challenges, even when or especially when they are new to us. Despite the newness, we both pushed through the challenging hiking portion and traversed with ease over streaming water and narrow passageways.

Repelling was where our trust would be challenged. The act of repelling is less about physical difficulty and more about trust. Sitting back into the harness and hanging off the side of the mountain you must trust not just in your setup —rope included— but it requires a looseness of the body and leaning back. Similar to those trust exercises we’ve all done with a partner, where you have to fall back, trusting your partner will catch you, this fallback was all about you. Do you trust you? This external, physical, and concrete real-life example illustrating a much deeper and more hidden dynamic of our relationship to self. Trust is something earned regardless of whether it’s with others or within ourselves. When we show up for ourselves to do the work, we begin building the infrastructure of this inner knowing; that yes even in the most challenging of circumstances we will show up for ourselves. This experience carries over when we traverse into something new and foreign. We are guided by a knowing, that despite the novelty of what’s in front of us, we can and are willing to go the distance. In my marathoning days, I always argued its little to do with the race itself; it’s simply the cherry on top. It is the training the builds the inner confidence and trust, that “yes” I can do this. It’s as much if not more mental as it is physical. So, as I began my first repel, I was delighted to see myself lie back with ease. I had confidence in my guide, but moreover I had confidence and trust in myself. That I can do this. I let my body lead, consciously deciding to remain out of my head. I told myself to not look down, stay in the present, and stick with the moment-to-moment movements my body needed to make it down —literally taking a backward step off the side of a cliff!

  Going over the edge, a lesson in deep inner trust.

When only investigated on the surface, the adventure of canyoneering certainly fulfilled our desire for a physical challenge, as well as some very cool bonding time, but moreover, it provided this beautiful snapshot of something brewing deeper within me.  This inner trust building inside of me, not just within my own being, but with the divine itself. A trust that I will show up for myself and that the workings of the divine is not always  understandable. We’ve all had painful periods of life when we have felt mislead or abandoned by the creator and I am no different. These experiences can lead us to question everything we thought we knew and ultimately bring us to a choice point of whether to surrender our will to a power with wisdom far beyond our perspectives, or abandon our faith and belief all together. These past couple years have provided fertile material for me to wrestle with such bouts of trust and the experience of canyoneering provided me a snapshot of how far I’ve come. To the trust in knowing that I would step over the edge to follow my heart and my soul into unknown territory. Fall or be caught, either way I surrender into a trust that the higher me is leading me exactly where I need to go to create the exact circumstances that shed any distance between me and the higher me.

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