Mother Nature is just that…a force of nature. She brings so many gifts and challenges that make us take stock of life and love. Late December, a fierce storm swept through the West Coast of BC, rendering several without power and water as a result of the hundreds of fallen trees. Many trees just snapped like a toothpick and others completely uprooted from their tenuous impermanence in the earth below them.
It is comforting to witness the community mobilize to help navigate the disaster. Those who owned chainsaws cleared the roads to make a pathway for traffic to and fro. Those with power offered up their homes for a hot shower, hot cup of tea, meal, or just some comfort. The chatter at the gas lineup or grocery store was focused on who needed help or how we all were managing.
Once the dust, or rather, sawdust settled, the islanders began to normalize and stabilize. For me, that meant resuming the ritualistic daily hike and climb a local mountain that fuels and nourishes my heart, mind and soul. The first attempt up the assault route of Mount Erskine was short-lived. About 10 meters in, I was forced to turn around and retreat back to the trailhead. Too many trees blocked the path, making it ridiculously unsafe. Determined to get a hike in that day, we rerouted to a different trailhead.
Initially the path seemed hike-able: clear, a bit muddy, but definitely promising. Yeah!. Despite the yellow warning tape, we optimistically set out on our hike. About 20 minutes up the mountain, we encountered a series of terribly fallen trees (as opposed to not terribly). The path was barely passable, making us crawl on our bellies or clamber over trees. Our own Tough Mudder!. We continued up and another 10 minutes I was aghast. Ahead of us, were 8, 10 maybe 12 large fir, cedar and arbutus trees down in a pile of ‘giant’ pick-up sticks. It was daunting. I gazed in horror at the carnage and conceded to Gaea. The summit would not be in our cards today. I turned around and started back down the mountain.
As I sullenly walked back down, that little determined voice inside me urged me to turn around. There must be a way. We have come so far up and the faint light of the summit was within our reach. Entering into problem solving mode and determined to succeed, we forged our own new path up, around, through and over this barricade created by Mother Nature. No wall was going to keep us from our true path. Bushwacking our way through, we were able to find a route and reach the breath-giving summit we have come to know and love. Amidst the wreckage, we found the light.
This is nature’s version of ‘when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade’ . When Mother Nature throws you a pile of trees to block your path, you find a way. This is a metaphor for life. Life throws many blocks and pitfalls that challenges us to dig deep and forge new paths. Building those paths are the gateway to your truer you.
So what is it that propels us to forge that path? Hitting rock bottom? An unplanned transition? Or a deep seated desire to evolve, grow, and change? Whatever the motivator, there are a few qualities that we call upon to answer the call of determination. These are Competence, Courage, Curiosity and Confidence.
1. Competence: What skills and abilities do I need to accomplish this successfully and efficiently? What do I need to do to learn and practice them?
2. Courage: Do I have the grit and gumption to take risks towards an unknown path? What helps me summon an action even if it means failure or no known outcome?
3. Curiosity: Do I have the quest and thirst for the unknown? Am I ok with being in the moment of not knowing?
4. Confidence: Do I have the stuff that turns thought into action? That moment where I say ‘Yes, I can do this’.
As I began the descent down the mountain, momentarily believing that I couldn’t get past the mound of giant pick up sticks, competence, courage, curiosity and confidence surged through my being to propel me back up the mountain.
These qualities are a blend of nature and nurture. Some are hardwired in our genetic coding and some are cultivated through our upbringing, our life choices and our failures. The extent to which we learn from each life event, helps cultivate competence, courage, curiosity and confidence. These help us look at the blockages and and find a way to move through, over, or around them and create something new and true.
First and foremost, we need to get out of our own way. In yogic philosophy, we have three minds: Negative Mind, Positive Mind, Neutral or Meditative Mind. Our minds are so powerful and also malleable.
Negative Mind or Protective Mind: the negative mind when in balance, keeps us safe and protected. When it is too powerful or overused, it can hijack or paralyze us leaving us disconnected and sad. If the negative mind is too weak, we are prone to unnessary danger and take foolish risks. Are the fears and anxieties warranted? Or is our negative mind (which is our protective force) making too much of it?
Positive Mind: when in balance, the positive mind is just that. Helps us see the good and right in everything. When too strong, we ignore or pretend that things are rosy and perfect. We can miss seeing the threats or do not set clear boundaries. When the positive mind is too weak, problems become amplified and negativity rules.
Meditative Mind or Neutral Mind: The neutral or meditative mind is our decision making mind. It helps us weigh the negative and positive and hurls us into action. When our meditative mind is strong, it is said we can derive a best course of action in 9 seconds. When it is weak, we have duelling positive and negative minds and are at the mercy of our emotions.
Cultivating a meditative mind helps us summon the competence, courage, curiosity and confidence to be all we can be. There is a way through every block. The path is yours to take. Forge your path, lean in to it, feel it and just do it.
As with most of my blog posts, the antidote for everything…meditation. My current 40-day meditation practice is “getting rid of the couldn’t” meditation. I join three other amazing competent, courageous, curious and confident women via Zoom every morning at 5:15 for this meditation to keep us connected and supported.
If you have a meditation practice everyday, terrific. If you don’t and would like to cultivate the meditative mind, contact me for a free consultation and conversation on getting started. Helping people ‘shower their mind’ daily, excites me!