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March 22, 2023

Trusting Your Guidance

If you’ve been following me the past year, you know we ran a backpacking & mindfulness retreat in Yosemite, California. It’s obvious that walking up steep cliffs with 35lbs of weight is challenging, however, we had no idea what we were actually in store for.

Day 3 was the toughest day of the hike. On this day we were traversing 4,000 ft in elevation. Our goal was Cloud’s Rest, a peak known for its majestic 360 views of nearly all of Yosemite park. Let’s just say, this day was rough. The weight was getting to some, people were sick, a few even had diarrhea which, never an ideal situation, poses even less joy when you’re walking up a mountain, dehydrating & carrying out your own toilet paper. (Sidenote: you get real comfortable with our humanness when traveling in the woods with a group.) Poop stories aside, we were eager to get to our peak and experience the reward for our struggle.

Earlier in the day, Alasdair our co-facilitator and trekking lead, had mentioned that the hike to camp was the toughest physical challenge, but the last part might be tougher psychologically. Since I hadn’t done the trek before, I had no idea what he meant. I was like yea sureee, let’s just get to camp and we’ll be good.

So we trudged on, Alasdair and I taking weight from those who were struggling, and step by step, made it to camp. We put our bags down, set up our tents and got ready for the last walk towards the peak. Since we could lower the weight of our packs, we thought this last part would be a breeze.

However, as we got up to the last section, Alasdair’s comment had made complete sense. We had entered a psychological mindf***. You couldn’t see the top, the path was narrow, and the mountain fell off on both sides. It was daunting. This had a bone-chilling effect. To say people freaked out is putting it lightly. One person had a panic attack, two people stopped dead in their tracks and started confessing fears in other areas of their lives, two others said that they just weren’t going to be able to do it. One was ready to put in the towel and said, “Isn’t this view enough?”.

Unfortunately at this point I could not offer them any help. Because to be honest, I was scared too. Someone mentioned they had a fear of heights, and I thought “Wow, this is scary to those who don’t have a fear of heights, I wonder what that person must be going through!”

Alasdair our lead, had already made it to the top with half the group. I was in charge of the rear, which is how I was put into this position. I didn’t know how to proceed. Instead of having them follow me towards their deaths, I had them wait, and decided to walk up and let them know what was going on. Once I made it to the top, beyond being awestruck, I now could now speak better towards what was ahead. It wasn’t as scary as it looked. Plus the way down, what many were just as anxiously scared about, looked easier to the mind.

I brought back with me our fearless leader, Alasdair. I did my part in motivating a few that they could do it and it wasn’t as scary as it seemed. Alasdair was there to guide each person up. His instructions were simple: look at his feet, follow his steps & don’t look anywhere else.

Step by step, I watched people overcome their fears and make it to the top. We then shared what I feel safe to say, was one of the most beautiful and fulfilling moments in each of our lives. The views were insaneee. Some pics here.

Beyond the views, was the bond that formed through what we overcame together to make it there. And the triumph each individual felt in pushing past boundaries.

The symbolism of this is profound. Being on a physical journey breaking through perceived limits helps us to overcome other psychological limits we set for our life. One of the main symbolic insights for me is that when we don’t believe in ourselves, we need people in our lives that do. We need people who have walked the path before and can say, “Hey it’s not as scary as you think, you can do this.”

That’s a big part of my intention with what I share with you. We are on the same journey. I hope that what mine has shown me can add value to yours. I’ve been shown time and time again the truth of the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

We are supported more than we can comprehend.

It’s that trust and guidance I hope to impart with you in this weeks’ practice: Trusting Your Guidance.

I hope it helps you to trust your journey and overcome a challenge you may be facing.

I hope it helps you to trust your journey and overcome a challenge you may be facing.

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