Do you have a place that calls you? A place that asks you to be more than who you are at that moment? That challenges your beliefs of yourself?
The Grand Canyon is that place for me. Each time I go into the Canyon I know I will be different when I come out. Different physically, mentally and spiritually (yep, I am going here with this one so hang on). I welcome the challenge and the change it will bring. I do this intentionally, through mediation and an open mindset.
It is also what the Canyon asks. To make it down and back in a day, it is not a place you can casually go explore. It requires physical discomfort, mental challenges, and preparation. Especially in June, it is hot AF in June!
When you place yourself in these challenges, you are changed. It is the deal you are making. You open yourself up to challenges in the exchange of something new. New physical limits, new ideas, new barriers broken, new insights. For me, the Canyon is an amazing intersection of physical training, opportunities for emotional rawness, and releasing mental blocks. Sport reflects life and sometimes an amazing training session is also an opportunity to explore ideas of self and belief if you are open to it.
This time I went with my coach and bestie Marilyn. It was her first time and it was so much fun to experience the grandeur and awe of the canyon with her. The Canyon is amazing. Especially when you look down and see what you are about to run. It is one thing to look up at a mountain and go up. We do it all the time. It is quite another to look down and not even see the bottom. There is something scary and uncomfortable about it. You have to be very aware of your abilities and confidence in who you are to start that journey.
When I stepped into the Canyon this time, I did so with two areas I wanted to explore - freedom and flow.
What does it mean to be free? Really?
Where does freedom for me come from?
How do I define it?
How do I want to define it?
How can I live my life more in flow and release?
I often find myself forcing situations, or contouring myself to fit in a box that does not fit for the sake of what I think others want. How can I sink into flow and be?
My previous experiences in the Canyon taught me that in that deep space where physical limits meet emotional openness, I can uncover so much of myself. This time I wanted to direct that experience and see what happened.
I ran down the Canyon quickly, because man it's fun to bomb downhill for 1.75 hrs. The lower I went, the deeper the layers of thought loops and all the feelings associated with them started to come up.
At one point I was like WTF! I am a mindset coach, I coach myself, I have a mindset coach, and yet these loops I thought were long gone still had crumbs in my brain. I was so annoyed. How dare these thoughts of self-judgment, shame and victimhood come up while I am in this beautiful place. Of course, what was happening is exactly what I wanted to happen. I literally asked for it! You cannot release old thought loops unless they are activated and activated they were! In that moment I realized that this was the freedom I was looking for. Freedom of the mind.
Freedom can not be given to you. Only you can give it to yourself. It is a constant choice of thoughts we react to, thoughts we amplify, thoughts we choose to think again and again to make our beliefs. This is the ultimate freedom.
I had a choice in that moment as to what I wanted to do with these thought loops.
I could ignore them and shove them back down.
I could explore them, even though I have explored them at nauseam and I know they only lead back to judgment and shame.
I could just let them go.
The idea of letting thoughts go is not a new concept by any means. I let thoughts go all the time. But these thoughts, it was clear, that some part of me decided to store them and add them in as flavoring in my self belief.
I decided, for the first time, that I was not going to entertain them. I wasn't going to explore them to find the lesson in them. I was just going to let them go.
I am a person that always wants to “get it right.” I want to make sure I see all parts, all sides. And while I am not great at this all the time, I want to see my role in it as well and learn whatever there is to be learned. For years I have kept these thought loops that lead to shame, guilt and judgment to keep reminding me of my “lessons” of how to be accountable and probably for some self punishment as well. As if suffering = accountability and eventually forgiveness (it does not). If I keep them, then I can “get it right” next time. So they have been buried in me, until that moment that I decided nope, I am done.
And then… Freedom.
It was like 1000 lbs were lifted off my back and thrown into the raging river. When I sat down to write this I tried to remember the details of thought and I couldn't. I can see the outline of where they once were, like an almost dried puddle, but the details are gone. They are fully released. Freedom.
There is no rulebook that says what thoughts you keep and which you release. It is always your choice.
What are you choosing to hold on to and why? Do they serve you and how you want to live your life?
That was the other part of my seeking. What I discovered as I climbed out of the Canyon, released from the thought loops but questioning parts of my beliefs, was trust leads to flow.
A thought came to me. “If someone gave me $1billion but I could never have the physical or mental ability to run in this Canyon, would I take it?”
My immediate and resounding response was “no!”
This immediately brought up all kinds of thoughts like “are you insane?” “who would choose that?” “that is so selfish, think of how much good you could do with those resources.”
When I sink into authentic self I realized that, even it seems like the insane choice, it is true for me. I would never give up all the parts that go into experiencing the Canyon in this way, not because I do not value financial security and power, but because I would have to sacrifice so much of myself, leave so much of myself yearning for more. I am sure many people would choose the $. That is totally ok and understandable. But with zero hesitation, I know I would never.
This is where the trust comes in. Trust in that voice that says “yes” or “no” from a place of knowing.
If I can find freedom from my mind, then I can be more connected with my authentic self. If I am living as a more fuller version of my authentic self, then I need to trust her. When I trust her to make decisions that create a life that she can flourish, then I can live in flow. I don't need to force situations, try and manipulate others to do what I think they should do, and I don't need to fit in a box I think others want me in. I do not have to sacrifice who I am. I can let life come to me and I can create what I want in life. Not through force but through just being.
Where we put our energy amplifies. So if I am putting my energy into following my authentic self, then that will amplify and so will the experiences around it. I talk a lot about creating a life you want to live with my clients. Creation is not through force but rather through trust and amplification. In fact, I find the feeling for force to occur when you are not living in your authentic self. Know who you are, trust in who you want to be, and then take actions to express that in your life. Flow is through a deeper connection to who I am and trust in me.
After 23+ miles and 5kft+ of climbing, bloody, muddy, salty, exhausted and free, I climbed out of Canyon. I was in fact a different person than when I went in. Way more prepared for Norseman, the Extreme Triathlon I am training for, and also more connected to myself and so free and in flow. I accepted the challenge of the Canyon and in return she delivered.
What does freedom and flow mean to you? What thoughts can you let go of? Where are you using force in your life, what happens if you trust instead?