As I walked in Snowdonia during a solo weekend camping trip, I was struck by how differently I experience adversity since beginning my quest for enhanced wellbeing and greater equanimity. It once again brought home to me, the wisdom of letting go and flow, so the water in the river rushing past me felt like an apt metaphor to reflect upon.
I previously saw things in quite a black and white way. If I was planning a camping trip and rain was forecast, it would instantly bring me down. I’d sigh inwardly. “Just my rotten luck” I’d think, and my mind would focus on what a miserable experience getting a tent set up in the rain would be, as my anxiety spiraled to the point where not only would I no longer be looking forward to going camping, it would also darken my mood.
I’d see things as going ‘wrong,’ and that would shape my perception of any given moment – bringing my energy and happiness down.
The weather is just one example, but there are many more. From
having trouble finding a remote campsite, to forgetting something I really
wanted to take away with me.
Little blips like this used to have the power to tip my experience in the moment, from positive to negative. I’d project forward, imagining worst-case scenarios – putting time and energy into anticipating and expecting the worst. I’d see things as going ‘wrong,’ and that would shape my perception of any given moment, bringing my energy and happiness down.
Having always struggled with my mental health, I’ve been working on how I process the world, and have been doing a lot of inner work. I began by no longer labeling experiences in a negative way and learned to always take something positive away, no matter what it was.
I began listening to my intuition. I learned to stop ignoring and instead to hear the stifled song of my soul. I learned the transformative power of gratitude and slowly, I began to realize that the rain simply doesn’t matter.
There are so many aspects of life that we have no power over, so letting them dictate my mood made no logical sense. I started to simply accept things as they were, and stopped ruminating on the myriad ‘what if’ scenarios that my brain had learned to hold on to and amplify.
Getting wet doesn’t matter when you can easily get changed into something warm and dry, and snuggle in your sleeping bag with a good book. Arriving at a campsite a little later than planned after a few wrong turns is no big deal. Forgetting something that isn’t vital, or that could be borrowed, is a very minor inconvenience.
I started to realize that the things I had built up in my mind, were not important enough to be filling me with anxiety, dread or anger – and giving them the power to influence my mood in the way I previously had done, was disempowering. I was experiencing a type of learned helplessness – letting my sympathetic nervous system run rampant, and wreak havoc with my sense of equilibrium.
Walking in Snowdonia on the weekend, I was very carefully picking my way over a rocky path – the type of path that requires focus, and careful steps to avoid slipping or tripping over.
The mountain path followed a river called, Afon Glaslyn. Forced into a narrow gauge, at times the river was flowing so fast, it was foaming white water in places. The riverbed was strewn with huge rocks, causing eddies and waterfalls.
Did the water regard these rocks and boulders as obstacles? Of course it didn’t. Looking at the river as I walked, I was energized by the relentless force of the water, always moving forward. Never still or stagnant. Never stopped by even the biggest of boulders. The water simply flowed around, over, or even through all that stood before it. The water didn’t mither or give up, it just cracked on and continued doing it’s thing.
This realization aligned so perfectly with my current path of consciousness, that I was struck by what a perfect metaphor the river was for my own energy; my anxiety often manifesting like huge impassable boulders, stopping me in my tracks.
Tranquility is a Choice
Letting go of the learned response, that knee-jerk reaction which has always been to catastrophize, even as I’ve felt the lump of anxiety gnawing at me deep in the pit of my stomach…this time instead, letting experiences flow through or around me.
It’s a skill I’m still trying to fully master, but when my energy is directed in this way – my experience of life is one of empowerment, and far greater tranquility.
transforming your thinking in this way, softens everything about you. The energy that would previously have been wasted on feeling cross, annoyed, upset or worried, is instead channeled into acceptance.
I breathe into moments of adversity and accept them, rather than trying to resist them.
Learning to roll with whatever comes your way, builds a sense of not only calm – but of far greater self-reliance, and quiet confidence.
I breathe into moments of adversity, and accept them, rather than trying to resist them.
The knock-on effect of this, is that my parasympathetic nervous system is activated. I don’t just feel calmer, I physically am calmer – and I no longer look at the weather forecast before a camping trip.