The Ego is a Mountain
Mountain hiking is not for the faint of heart. Apparently, I’m one of those “faint of heart” folks. At least in this instance. I call it a wee bit of naivete’ - I was simply naive. Let me tell you how a vacation mountain hike turned into a whole yoga story. You know those motivational stories your teacher tells while holding you in Warrior 2. Yeah. It’s one of those. So get into a good Virabhadrasana II (veer-uh-buh-DRAHS-uh-nuh) and keep reading.
So, my husband and I got signed up for this hike. Won’t go into detail about who signed us up, let’s just say I had some words for this person later. Anyway, a nice hike sounded fun and exciting and something I could say “I did it!” about after. Oh, and did I mention this hike was to take place in St. Lucia? I mean, c’mon, how beautiful and picturesque. I could just imagine the instagram photos and captions.
I’ve never been on a mountain hike before. I did what any person would do: I put on my cutest yoga pants and Nikes, some sunscreen and sunglasses, grabbed a hat and some water and said “Let’s Go!” We did have bananas in the complimentary backpack the tour company gave us, so we were good, right?
Wrong. First of all, we were extremely unprepared to hike up a 2,600 foot tall mountain with what we had. We needed to pack a real lunch. We needed real hiking boots. We needed conditioned leg muscles. We needed to research where we were going. We needed to not have had that third cocktail (or fourth) the night before.
Let me tell you the real. If I had attempted this hike pre-yoga days, I would have let my ego talk me into a panic attack. I would have let my ego push me to the top, despite my lack of preparation and leg muscle ability. I would have let my ego tell my shallow breathing that it was weak, and to keep pushing. But guess what, this hike happened after I had incorporated yoga and meditation into my daily life. So guess what ego??? Screw you!!
At about 1,100 feet up, I made the decision to turn around. I recognized that I wasn’t even enjoying the climb. I was focused on the person’s feet in front of me, which means I was looking down most of the time. Have you ever done that? Just kept your head to the ground and kept it moving? I didn’t even get a look at the views around me, which I found out on the way down, were BREATHTAKING!!! Have you ever done that too? Learned more about something you were going through after you came out of it? Yeah, this experience was full of life metaphors. I love when that happens!
I made a choice. I listened to my breath. I felt my body. I was present. My present self said, try it again next time, but be more prepared. My present self said there was no shame in turning back.
Anyway, I could insert all of the life metaphors and cliches here. We’ve heard them before. The biggest take away from this for me was that yoga changes you in ways you won’t even know until you’re faced with a challenge. For me, the ego wasn’t the loudest voice, or for the sake of this story, the highest peak, anymore. And I’m okay with that.