This summer marked another trip to Miraval for me – a place that I feel called to visit once a year for rejuvenation and self-discovery. And I’ll do anything to make this trip happen (selling things on ebay, taking on extra work and even renting out our house while we travel are all things I’ve done just to ensure my annual visit). Miraval is always filled with “aha” moments for me and this year I wanted to share my most profound one with all of you…
HOW WE DO ONE THING IS HOW WE DO EVERYTHING.
Whenever I’m at Miraval I force myself to take part in one of their challenge activities. This year, I participated in Quantum Leap II. During this exercise, participants climb 35 feet in the air and then stand on a tiny platform before taking a leap which feels like free falling but eventually you realize you are safe because of your harness.
What I found to be particularly difficult during this challenge was the physical act of climbing onto the platform and getting into a standing position. In fact, I was fairly certain that my awkward attempt at standing would result in my falling off the platform. And I was even more certain that if I did manage to actually stand I would be filled with anxiety and might be too afraid to jump.
Our facilitator (who controlled our harness and as a result, had our safety in his hands) told us that before leaping we needed to give him a 3-2-1 countdown so that he could be ready for our jump. Knowing this, I felt like I needed to give him a heads up that I might be “leaping” very quickly.
Me (still crouching down on the final step before climbing onto the platform): Lewis?
Me: Just so you know, the minute I’m on the platform I am going to count down super fast and I just want you to be ready.
Lewis: Teresa, you can count as fast as you want and I’ll be ready for you. But (long pause) as long as you’ve worked this hard to get to the top wouldn’t it be nice to pause for a moment, breathe and take in the amazing view up there?
And then it hit me – aha! During times of great distress, I tend to bury my head and bulldoze my way through the situation as quickly as possible. What if I took the time to pause, breathe and look up during other challenging times in my life? Perhaps I might realize that the situation isn’t nearly as stressful as I initially perceived or maybe I would find a new sense of clarity and perspective? Maybe I would even discover untapped coping mechanisms within me that are far more productive than just closing my eyes and plowing through the event as fast as I can.
And so thanks to beautiful words of wisdom and encouragement from Lewis, I stood. Still. And breathed. And even reached out my hands and took in the amazing beauty around me. And it was wonderful. In fact, the longer I stood, the calmer I became which was exactly the opposite of how I thought I would feel. And I realized that how I had been dealing with stress for so many years was no longer serving me. And with that knowing, I leaped – with my eyes wide open.
“The best things happen at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.”