My husband and I went on a spontaneous adventure this weekend. It was our training opportunity for a five-day rafting trip we are taking on the Salmon River in Idaho. It was our first time in a Fun-Yak.
A Fun-Yak is an inflatable kayak for one person that creates the perfect environment to be up close with the river, your fears, your inner will and your breath. I saw it as an opportunity to witness my mind, body and spirit, in very fast motion.
I had significant fear about kayaking the Peshtigo and Menomonee River in high volume spring water since I would be the only person navigating my boat.
Here are a few of my fearful thoughts: What if I die on Mother’s day? What if I become paralyzed? What if I injure myself and I’m unable to work and provide for our family?
The night before we left I had the thought: “What if this is the last time I’m able to take a shower without help? What if I become paralyzed?” I then immediately experienced taking a shower with a new awareness and immense gratitude for being able to do something that I typically take for granted. I saw this as a gift. My fear based thought actually created an opportunity for me to appreciate what I currently have. I shifted my fear and actually created a state of presence and gratitude. Remember most of our fear is based on something that could happen in the future. The lesson is to recognize this and come back into the present moment.
I also felt my fear in live time as I navigated class 3 rapids in a fun-yak. My greatest fear was flipping my boat in a rapid.
We hired an experienced guide to teach us how to read the rapids and run them safely in a fun yak. He was a great teacher, repeated things multiple times in a very simple, concise manner. When you are in fast moving water you don’t have time to ponder what your next move will be. You must be in a place of awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and what’s around the next bend. I believe this was a master’s level training course in being aware and attuned to the power of nature.
We navigated through a rapid or two and I was feeling comfortable. We came upon the next rapid where our guide told us 75% of the people flip. I stated clearly “I will be part of the 25% club.” I witnessed the power of my intention, focus and confidence. It worked! I navigated that rapid and celebrated with a big WOO HOO! My guide celebrated with me and also cautioned me not to get too comfortable because we were in a stretch of roaring rapids for four miles.
We continued onward; I was feeling strong, and confident. I believed if I didn’t flip in that rapid then I would be able to navigate the rest of the day without flipping. I could feel myself move from cautiously confident to slightly cocky. I recognized it was a subtle shift in thought which created a lax in my attention, and the river noticed it too.
We entered the next rapid and I knew I had not positioned myself correctly to run the rapid, I questioned my ability. I tried desperately to course correct against a force of water much stronger than myself. My confidence plummeted and so did I as my fun-yak flipped and I went into the rushing water. My body reacted with the fight or flight response as I was being tossed in the current. It happened so fast. It took a conscious effort to re-assure myself that I was okay, and to let go into the moving water. My inner dialog was my calming force “You are okay Sus, you are okay, breathe, breathe, breathe.” As I took deeper breaths I was able to calm myself. My lesson was noticing that the first thing I lost was my confidence, the mind filled with fear and then the body and boat followed.
It was exhilarating to experience the fear (in my body), recognize my part in creating this situation (in my mind), and riding it through bringing myself back to safety with soothing inner thoughts (using my breath).
I did a great deal of talking to myself as I ran the rapids. I repeated the lessons our guide gave us. As you approach a big rapid you have to override the instinct to just stop paddling. The way to stay safe is to keep your eye on the smoothest path, steer your boat straight and keep paddling.
It makes me think of life and navigating any new situation. Even if the new situation is something that you really want, there usually is some fear in the unknown. So how do you navigate fear with confidence and presence of mind?
- Acknowledge the fear, don’t judge it or blame it or try to hide it. It’s real and it’s showing up to guide you.
- Check in and see if the fear is real or imagined based on future events. Give yourself permission to witness the ‘what if’ thoughts. Then come back to the present moment and find a sense of gratitude in what you have.
- Keep your focus on the feeling of the desired outcome not the fear. What you focus on expands. This is a universal truth.
- Don’t allow the fear to stop you, when you play through your fear toward your desire you will experience confidence and exhilaration.
Interested in being supported as you navigate change, rough waters, and fear? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute Catalyst Coaching session with me today.
Interested in your own rafting adventure contact Dale at Kosir's Rapid Rafts and Co