Point to Ponder:
What’s your Via Ferrata?
As referenced in last week’s journal, our iGnite Escape’s are always filled with unexpected, laughable and ample ah-ha moments. In addition to meeting the Rubyz, the memory that made the greatest impact during this summer’s escape to Banff, Canada was on our 6-hour, Via Ferrata climb on Mt. Norquay–7000 feet up!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Via Ferrata, you are not alone. Prior to planning our trip I was also unaware. Via Ferrata is Italian for “iron way” and is a mountain route equipped with steel cables, ladders, other fixed anchors and suspension bridges. Having rock climbed before, I didn’t feel it was as physically challenging, however while the views were spectacular, six hours of reaching, climbing, scaling, and repelling at 7000 feet high is no easy feat. In fact, at times it was so physically, mentally and emotionally daunting that many of us agreed that we were tired of feeling scared and several of us wanted to stop; however, that is when the experience became the most rich and rewarding.
As the fear and fatigue escalated, Kim, one of our guides stepped in. Gentle yet firm, she reminded us that taking long deep breaths was essential, as deep abdominal breathing allows for full oxygen exchange that lowers heart rate, stabilizes blood pressure and calms our mind. And, having practiced the deep breathing throughout our adventure, I can confirm that it does quiet the body and mind.
Next, and while this sounds ridiculously simple, she encouraged us to eat, stay hydrated and take pit stops as often as we needed. Here’s why: Snacking and keeping our blood sugar at normal levels helps reduce anxiety and increases concentration. Staying hydrated helps us stay focused and decreases brain fog, and while we climbed (it got much more difficult before it got easier), staying focused was essential. And, allowing ourselves to urinate (rather than holding it) truly caused a sense of relief and Kim needed us to be as comfortable on the mountain, because not only would that allow us to stay focused on the tasks at hand, it would keep us safe.
Kim’s final wisdom nugget that left the greatest impression on our experience was when she reminded us that whether or not we quit or kept going, a “feel good” chemical response in our bodies would occur. In the event we were to quit, we would feel safe, relieved and out of danger, therefore our body would release serotonin. On the flip side, if we finished what we started, we would experience an endorphin rush and feel a true sense of euphoria. Kim’s point was that either way, both of these responses feel good and when the next similar opportunity were to present itself, we would more than likely choose the same path. In other words, as a result of stopping before we accomplished our goals or finished what we set out to achieve, life patterns are created. To Kim’s point, this is why she was respectfully relentless and would not let us quit. She knew that if we continued to persevere, work through our fears, fatigue and even anger, the result would be empowerment and excitement, which is most certainly what we all experienced. When it was all said and done and we were celebrating over beer and wine, we unanimously agreed that we were thankful we didn’t quit and completed the climb, and as we learned in this summer’s journal Be a Novel, Keep Moving and Stay Young, many of us agreed that climbing the Via Ferrata significantly reduced our risk of Alzheimers disease and increased our neuroplasticity.
So, what’s your Via Ferrata? Is there a “thing” in your life that you are avoiding starting or finishing due to fear? If there is, I encourage you to start by accomplishing smaller, attainable tasks, chores or goals that give you the satisfaction of finishing, as well as a good endorphin surge. Then, add on. Trying an iGnite class you’ve never taken is the perfect place to start, as is participating in our 12-Day Body Re-Boot that begins this upcoming Saturday.
All in all, fear is normal and without it, we’d be robots. However, what’s vital is our willingness to be a beginner and embrace challenges so that time and time again, courage can step in and we can experience life at its best.