1. a. A call to engage in a contest, fight, or competition: a challenge to do a deed.
b. A test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking:
something that offers the opportunity to test one’s previous learnings.
Hi, this is Rich Aanrich. Again, the theme this month with is about LEARNING. So, I decided to delve into my past and ask, “what experience did I have that allowed me to learn something in an unusual way?” Then, I did an age regression, in my mind, about 25 years and remembered the time I decided it would be okay to take an Outward Bound trip that featured cliff climbing! I feel the adrenaline rushing again!
I was reading through an Outward Bound catalogue and saw an ad for a canoeing trip on the Rio Grande River that also featured a couple days of testing climbing skills. Curiosity gripped me as I devoured the rest of the information. I thought that would be fun. I picked up the phone and called the Registrar in charge of the trip.
Ah ha! This time they weren’t over capacity and I could come. I would be in the first group and would get to the cliffs early. “Sounds great!” I said, “Sign me up.”
I’ve hiked at the headwaters of the Rio Grande above Creede, Colorado, and loved the beautiful lake that fuels it into a river. I already felt a connection to the water we would be paddling on.
Learning Starts Immediately
I listened intently to the instructions, checked out the canoe, life vest, and grabbed an oar, and slipped into the first waiting boat. It had been years since I’d canoed. It felt wonderful. The beautiful feeling of a sleek canoe sliding through the splashing waters as muscles worked with each stroke. The team settled into a comfortable cooperative flow from the first minutes. Then we hit the rapids! Wow! We were powerfully, thrillingly tested in our teamwork skills. Our crew did well. We beached downstream and waded out to pull a couple of overturned canoes in to shore, and grab some fellow wet river rats floating by.
We camped overnight next to the river. The next day we arrived at the towering cliffs. The instructors unpacked the climbing gear and set up the ropes for the climb. It was a cliff that had tall faces running 100-200 feet – mostly straight up. Some of the people next to me were showing some major anxiousness as they looked at the walls. Since I was raised in Colorado and spent a lot of time in the mountains this looked interesting. However, nothing overwhelmed me. I knew I would have no trouble and figured I’d be mostly helping my new friends do their climbs.
Thankfully, one of the instructors, Dan, could read me well. He noticed that I wasn’t really challenged. Leaning over to me, his next remark offered a new challenge and changed my whole perspective. He said, “You know, I’ll bet someone could climb that cliff blindfolded if they really tried.”
I took the bait and thinking to myself, “Blindfolded … hmmmm. Wow! Now, that would be fun to try. “ Let me do it,” I perked up to the instructor, smiling mischievously. And the fun began!
Dan took me over to a small cliff maybe 50 feet high. He instructed me to put on a safety line. Next came the blindfold. He turned me loose.
The cliff was called “The Christmas Crack” for some reason and I went up it quickly. He said, “Looks like you’re okay to try the big one.” I gallantly proceeded, feeling adrenaline pumping, confidence flowing.
Climbers walked over to the main wall. The first few climbers and the newcomers were harnessed up. We later talked about how each could see fear and hear excitement as we accepted the challenge. More excitement electrified the air as climbers followed the instructor’s guidelines and scaled the wall. What a rush to see climber after climber safely making the climb! Some got stuck and needed help or encouragement, but all finally made it. It was life changing for several of them.
Waiting my turn and watching, it was now my turn to test the climb. Except this time there was no wisdom from the instructors. I said to myself, “Just touch the wall and do your best.”
Moving forward … I felt the wall.
It was about 11:00 a.m. on a hot Texas summer day and the wall was pretty warm already. I felt my safety line on my body, and someone above had a belay line attached to catch me if I fell. I felt pretty confident, but still needed to know he could handle me if needed. So, at about 12 feet up I purposely fell backward and yelled falling. Sure enough he caught me and let me go gently back to the ground. Now, I knew it was just the wall and me.
Moving back to the wall I took a couple clearing breaths and let my fingers feel for anything to grasp, a hole in the cliff, a crack to hold on to, anything! There wasn’t much there and most holds were too small … to trust myself to manage my weight. I felt totally connected to the wall and sensitive to every muscle moving. The wall was getting hotter and hotter by the minute in the noonday sun already passing 90+ degrees. I calmed my mind even more. “Let the heat be just another part of the wall,” I told myself. Calm. Relax. Safe.
How Did It Go?
You guessed it. You know I made it, because I lived to write this blog. I stepped onto the top of the cliff about two and a half hours later with the heat over 100 degrees. Elated! I felt positively elated. Yeah! Then the instructor said, “Okay, now take the mask off and climb back down.”
“Oh,” I thought about climbing down without a mask for a minute. “Okay.” I started down.
The climb back down with my mask off was harder than going up! Faster, sure, but definitely harder. Every few inches I was looking for where to put my feet and where to grab the edge of a rock with my fingertips. In addition, the heat felt almost blistering to my fingers and hands now. I was really done when my feet hit the ground. Going up my body seemed to just sense what it needed to do and how. Not as easy coming back down!
Then the next major learning happened. The instructor, Debbie, on top asked me how the climb down was and I responded, “It seemed much harder coming down.”
Here’s the lesson.
She said, “Isn’t it interesting how the mind gets in the road when we think we can see what we’re doing?”
Wow! I learned that the full body, unconscious wisdom when I was blindfolded was so much more reliable than when I could use the conscious mind with what I could see! That lesson has lasted me through many a moment in learning to trust the unconscious.
- Read up on what you’re interested in.
- Make a decision to do it or not.
- Pay attention to the instructions.
- Watch others do something until you can get the feel for it.
- Wonder if there are other ways you could do it that might stretch what you know.
It’s okay to have a little bit of scary nervousness and you can still do it. Your first attempt is only practice and you’ll learn. You’ll get better with each trial.
At the end, stop and enjoy what you’ve done. Remember, “The Unconscious Mind has more Knowledge than the Conscious Mind, so learn to trust the Knowing-ness that’s there.”
We’d love to take you on a “Inward Bound Trip” to Stretch Your Abilities!
At Apositiva Institute, we work together by using proven processes. Hypnotherapy and its cousin NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) can be amazing steps to help you navigate your Innerspace. You can redesign your Possibilities for a better outcome. Let us show you how.
Discover it here. Connect with us. Call Rich or Cat at Apositiva for Counseling, Coaching and Training 503-525-0595 or email us. Mention this blog and receive a special gift for your challenge. Call and find out what you get now.
We look forward to being your guide.