A chilly morning, beautiful blue skies, yet brisk winds set the scene for my father and my last swim across the lake for 2011. Originally he’d asked my mom and naturally she refused, so ‘Brittany would you like to go?’ Hell yes, do you even have to ask! Why you may ask would I put myself in these positions? ‘You’re nuts, it’s freezing,’ and so on. I have done and been on many adventures this past year (skydiving, zorbing, ziplining, etc.) and I find that the most rewarding experiences are the ones that challenge you and what you think you’re capable of doing. Climbing to Pikes Peak in a hail storm and backpacking by myself in California stand out as examples of this. They broke down who I ‘thought’ I was supposed to be and made the Tao principle that nothing is impossible real. I’ve always held this belief, the harder something was supposed to be, the better I did. If I wanted to truly so something, then I could do it. So here was a challenge; swim across an almost freezing lake. My father’s approach was to talk about how cold it was and to talk incessantly in order to pump himself up. My preparation? Same thing as when I went skydiving, don’t think about it. I’ve learned I enjoy things more by just experiencing them and letting them happen, rather than anticipating how something is going to feel. What good does it do to get all amped up (raising cortisol), thinking how cold it is going to be. If you’re thinking how cold it is then you ARE cold, just like if you think how bad your life sucks, the more miserable you become. Plus, I also believe in the principle of separating mind and body, ‘I am not my body, it is just my vessel and there is no such thing as suffering’ (this is what got me through that hail storm in Colorado). So I take this idea and enter the water, I don’t even think about being cold the entire time. I initially take note of how my breathing instinctively quickens as I get in the water. I focus on relaxing my body, leavening out my breath, paying attention to how my extremities feel as I propel myself closer to the edge. After a quarter of the way your body just adapts to the temperature (like when you walk into a room and smell something, but after a few minutes you can no longer smell it), so by the end, I feel no rush toeven get out. We do climb out and finish our adventure in our shorts (plus a sports bra for me) chatting the next 15 minutes until we arrive home. We discover the importance of this challenge was to take us out of comfort zone. We live these cushy lives with heated/cooled homes, plentiful food and all the amenities that keep us from having to strain ourselves. Stepping outside of this, not only are you living and pushing forward, but it makes you appreciate the things and conditions of your life more. Like I said it’s the little things and challenges in your life that test what you’re capable of. You’ve got to shock your system, break the monotonous cycle of your daily routine and the boundaries around you. Take a risk,whatever it may be, but challenge what makes you comfortable (whether physically or mentally-jump out of a plane if you’re afraid of heights, ask out a pretty girl if you’re ‘shy’, climb a mountain, etc.) just JUMP and you’ll be rewarded with the experiences that make life precious and real!
BE, Love, Illuminate