I love snowboarding. I lose time, I learn so much about life, the universe and even myself while boarding and this trip was no exception.
But unlike the last time I went boarding I found myself facing a challenge I was not expecting ~ Fear.
I have to back track a bit to explain. I grew up in a family that never downhill skied. I went for the first time in my 20’s and found it difficult. I used to also be terrified of heights and so plummeting down an icy mountain with my boots strapped to planks seemed suicidal.. But I learned. I left those fears behind was eventually confident enough with my snow plow ability to make it down alive.
Fast forward a few years.
After ungracefully disembarking numerous times from numerous chairlifts I decided it would be better for myself and the world at large if I limited the amount of equipment attached to my body. So I made the very smart decision to evolve from 2 narrow skis and 2 poles to one large, wide, board.
Believe me....it made sense at the time.
So there enters snowboarding a few years ago. After spending a few days on my bottom, I was finally able to make my first turn. I could not turn the other way..but no matter. I was going places!
After a season of practice and I could get down a green (beginner run) safely.
Now the exhilaration of learning something new was wonderful, but I did have to struggle with some inner terror of extreme speed and heights, along with the un-helpful mind chatter of 'this is dangerous..you are going to die etc. etc.'
Those voices in my head..although well meaning (in the sense that they were vying for my survival)..they all ultimately came from fear.
My fear was talking..and it was Loud.
Over the years I learned to give little attention to this voice of fear and I have overcome. To the point where I no longer fear boarding..I Love it.
These days, I am no 'superstar' on the board but I can complete a blue(intermediate run) with ease.
So on this trip I should be A-Ok right? Wrongo in the Congo. You see, I fell Christmas eve badly and injured my tail bone to the point where it was Still healing. I had realized, in a big and painful way, that I did not 'bounce' like I used to. The thought of falling again was not pleasant.
So on this trip, while I was coming down the hill, the very loud thought in the back of my mind was-'What if I fall?!'
Over the years I have fallen frequently. It's how you learn after all. I would get up, dust myself off and continue on my merry way. Yet this last fall not only left me badly hurt and sore, it left me afraid.
So all of a sudden, I was this big chicken coming down the hill. All of this 'thinking' made my technique wobble. Shaky confidence created a skaky mind, which in turn resulted in a shaky body, and this all added up to some very 'bad' boarding.
Over and over again, I ‘almost’ found myself falling and each time my heart would stop.
The problem with this particular day was I was totally in my ‘Mind’ and the leader of my mind was fear.
Now when you are boarding or skiing (for those skiers out there-you know what I mean) you get into a rhythm, a flow, a dance. And when you are in that ‘gap’ there is No Mind. You are not thinking, not really. You are free from your mind..just like in a meditation….that is why this ‘gap’ is so glorious.
So here I am, coming down the hill all over the place, wanting that ‘space’ wanting that ‘feeling’ and instead am dealing with the unruly toddler of my mind freaking out. I was battling on the hill and not enjoying myself at all. I was getting cranky.
Ironically (or not-because mind creates Everything!) the weather on this day was cold, windy and very foggy-you could not even see one foot in front of you. These conditions only added to my overall fear experience.
I started to engage that fearful part of my mind…It eagerly gave me a lot of feedback and advice like.... maybe I was to old to board..maybe I should give it up. Honestly I’m a mother..I should be responsible..think of my children..right?
The ‘children’ were barreling down double diamonds(the steepest craziest runs in all of creation) with their father. The children thankfully had been on skis since they were 3 and had none of the hang ups I was experiencing. I said a silent prayer of thanks that they did not inherit my fear in their DNA.
Yes, you heard me correctly.
Not only through experience, but in DNA.
Yes that is right everyone. Take a long hard look at your parents and their fears and then look at your own. Chances are you have quite a few in common and not just from socialization, or experiences gone wrong.
Fear lives in an actual part of the brain. In some people is takes up a very large part..and in other people it is smaller..but it does exists in a part of the brain called the caudette nucleus.
And get this.... that part of the brain that governs fear can be shrunk.
Yes it can. And it gets better-this is the kicker. In order to shrink it you need to go out there and do the very things that scare you the most.
Now fear is not the enemy here. In fact your parents are smart. Without their DNA wanting to keep them safe their ancestors would not have run from the T-Rex and their genetic line would have died there. So fear is our body’s response to help us survive..the whole flight or flight thing. The only problem is there was no T Rex on that ski hill. Just a group of pastel coloured ski jackets swooshing in unison down a snow covered hill.
I know….scary stuff.
And I ‘know’ these things, about the brain etc. etc. and believe me as I was having my meltdown I was counselling myself through it and trying to figure it all out. But that did not stop me from feeling the fear. You cannot have a rational conversation with fear.
So I resisted the urge to throw my snowboard into the forest (believe me-it was a strong urge) and I took a break. I had a nice hot chocolate. I had a good talk with myself. Ultimately it came down to this, I still had fear, but I decided I would rather go out there and take that chance of falling and seriously hurting myself than not to engage life and end the day feeling sorry for myself.
I found some courage in that little cup of hot chocolate.
I went out there, strapped on my board, took a deep breath, surrendered, overcame and as a result found my flow.
When we do not honour our inner voice and choose to compromise what we believe in or abandon our dreams- in the name of fear-our body loses energy. Over time we begin to feel tired and apathetic.
Our body, mind, emotions, and spirit know when we are giving up and all this energy designed to help us move through our fear is turned inwards to become depression.
What our body wants us to do is move through the fear, come out the other side and shrink that part of our brain responsible for our 'perceived' limitations.
So notice the next time you feel afraid..really afraid. Just watch yourself, and your emotions. Watch your mind and be the silent (non-judging) observer and ask yourself ‘What am I really afraid of?And most importantly 'Is this fear worth it?’
Is it worth giving up your dreams to feel fear instead?
It Never is.