If any of my friends are reading this they will know I used to be an adrenalin freak. Always seeking a way to experience life fully through pushing my physical and mental boundaries. Loving the sensation of adrenalin flooding through my body and the admiring glances it gained from others. These days I prefer getting my thrills from inner experiences and am less concerned with impressing others. I wonder though if I have become a bit of a chicken, am I embracing possibility? What do we miss out on when fear creeps into our lives and how does that happen?
There are times fear prevents us from living fully? When fear is irrational or self imposed? Maybe you can recall a time when fear has prevented you from even trying.
Being married to one of the most incredible, fearless men on this planet (my description not his) has led me into scenarios and challenges I might have chosen to not encounter. He who has been called the world's hardest man is married to me, fluffy, glittery and a scaredy cat.
So I find myself in Sri Lanka on the edge of the river in Kitugala excitement growing amongst the others and terms like “gnarly, pumping, epic, drops, holes and pools” being thrown around. It's planned; we will go tomorrow with a trip that has 2 people already booked on it.
That night the sky is an alive artists easel as an electric storm paints the jungle and river in shades of indigo, violet, magenta and white. I feel alive and present, it is thrilling and humbling, I feel connected to nature and part of it but tiny and insignificant too. The morning arrives with a freshness. The drama, humidity and stickiness of the night before replaced by a calmness and sense of peace. A mist lifts off the rivers surface mystical and dreamy the peacefulness and beauty around me slightly dilute the growing terror in me
It is not long before we are on the banks of the river listening to the safety briefing. I hear words like "Full body entrapment", and cues of what to do when you find yourself "under the flipped raft"
I've heard it many times before but still the tight throat sensation is the response my body gives. I gulp trying to swallow the spit in my mouth. What is fear anyway? False Evidence Appearing Real, is this not a perfect yogic opportunity to take control of the mind? The mind that is already frantically making up dramas and stories based on a safety briefing. I begin to take control, enjoying exploring putting into action something I teach. Starting with the breath, lengthening my inhales and exhales, overcoming the bodies natural response to stress. I become present, immersed purely in reality, in the moment.
We climb in the raft and begin to practice our paddling, which should be perfectly timed if we are to maneuver the raft where it needs to go. The river is beautiful, vines and trees are dense on the banks, the unfamiliar calls of birds float through the air and glimpses of monkeys can be seen as they fly through the sky. We push off into the current. Inhale, exhale, hard forward, I dip my paddle into the river and using my entire body pull with all my strength, synchronizing my strokes with Pete who is In front of me. We splash our way through the first rapid, as we round a corner the horizon appears. I know this means the river drops. A fine mist is lifting signifying a drop of some meters. My body is alive with sensation, ears are alert
waiting for a command. "Forward, stop, backward, stop, hard forward" I am having fun, we drop into the gnarly section, I can see the river is shallow, flipping would be a disaster, I take control of my mind things are moving too fast for me to dramatise anyway. As we drop into a curling wave the raft momentarily surfs, I find myself giggling at the physical sensations I am experiencing as the clumsy rapid gains air. We are through and soon the trip is over.
As I stand on the rivers edge, I feel vibrant, proud and alive. It would have been easy to avoid what scared me. I am thrilled to have overcome my self-imposed limitations and look forward to embracing fear again with the same open mind and heart.