I took myself hiking on a trail I hadn’t been to before. It’s listed as easy/moderate and close to town, but anytime I hike alone, it can bring up some primal fears: What if I run into a mountain lion? What if I get lost?
Nature’s potential dangers, and the fear that comes with them, brings the gift of awareness to my surroundings – and to my limiting beliefs. This is helpful considering that most of my thoughts reside in my subconscious and can result in old habits and behaviors that may not be serving me. On his website, cellular biologist and author Bruce Lipton Ph.D. says “we’re functioning 95 percent of the day with a more powerful mind that was programmed by other people with limitations that will prevent us from going someplace yet we can’t see it unless we purposefully become aware of it.”
Awareness is great, but do I really need to solo hike the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail in order to become aware of my limiting beliefs and ability to create new thoughts and behaviors?
Probably not, but I do find it helpful to identify new experiences that will take me into the unknown and into the discomfort (Note that I wrote discomfort and not pain, or physical danger). In these moments, the energy of fear helps me to tune into my body and when I’m in my body, I’m in the present moment, and when I’m in the present moment, I can access my intuition and better assess my situation – actually creating more safety for myself.
I choose experiences in nature to learn about myself because as nature-based coach Michael Trotta put it, “Nature is neutral. It doesn’t have an agenda.” This made so much sense to me. As much as I appreciate others’s perspectives, they can come with their own projections – projections that aren’t necessarily true for me. Communicating with nature allows me to connect to my soul’s perspective.
So, in the spirit of leaning into the discomfort, I recently led my first hike with Whole-Self Wisdom Connections – a community I created to serve women who want to shift from feeling exhaustion to experiencing more ease, energy and engagement.
At the trailhead, we set the intention to learn more about a thought pattern that was no longer serving us (While they once protected us as children, these thoughts may no longer be true as adults).
We then let go of our intention and as animal communicator Anna Breytenbach once said, we set out to “lose our minds and come to our senses.”
I let the rocks be my teacher and used my curiosity and eyes to notice that they were everywhere along the path, and then I touched the lichen on top of them and felt their grounding energy calm my own. I noticed my thoughts of: “I need to look down, and be careful, before taking the next step”; “These rocks are old”; “I need to do things for people because I care about them” and “I need to take responsibility for them” (There it is!).
The rocks, and my physical senses, brought the following limiting belief to the surface: “I need to take care of/be responsible for others” (Ai yai yai – that one again? Whoops, there’s my inner critic telling me I shouldn’t have that thought again!)
Like the rocks, this pattern was old (probably lifetimes, and/or ancestral!). Can you imagine all of the actions/behaviors that this thought led to? Exhaustion. I needed a new perspective.
We turned onto a new trail to loop back to where we started. This time, I set a new intention – To learn a new perspective on this old belief that I needed to take responsibility for others (After all, I’m not raising young children).
I dropped into my senses and noticed the trees. They showed me that: There are different kinds; that I need to look up to see them; that while some have needles, they are actually soft; that even the ones that are dead are beautifully artful; and that some provide much needed shade.
Further up, we came to a field of boulders that looked as though they could tumble down the slope and onto the trail. This was my observation, but we also noticed that our observations about the rocks differed.
We then continued along the path through a set of steep steps that triggered an uncomfortable sensation in my back.
Finally, we reached a lookout point where we could view the Continental Divide. From this new perspective, I learned that the trees are everywhere, so I can always look up – to give blessings for the trees so that I’ll notice them (and look up) more often.
From this view, I wrote a new story:
I once thought I was responsible for others (emotions, well-being…), but then I got to a place that was unstable and intimidating, and my back hurt. Finally, I reached a lookout point where all of the trees prompted me to look up and give thanks for my surroundings – taking me out of the fear and into a state where I can express myself creatively.
I’d love to learn more about how you gained a new perspective. Did it occur in meditation, or nature, listening to a podcast, or reading a book? Include your comments below, or feel free to reach out to me at kelly@kellycmullen.