Written by Elise Museles.
Opening up, stepping out, going beyond—whatever you call it, give it a try.
The Scene: Standing at the base of a vast and beautiful coastal mountain in Southern California, about to embark on an exciting challenge: hiking 13 miles… straight uphill to the top.
Homemade trail mix fills my pockets, sunscreen coats my skin, and my hiking shoes are tightly laced. I peer around and smile at the cluster of 12 inspiring people surrounding me. Energy and enthusiasm swarm my body. I’m ready.
Until our neo-hippie guide, who can’t be much older than 20, informs us that there will be no talking on the hike. A silent hike? For 13 miles?
“It’s not the 70s!” I want to scream. “Civilized people chat on a 13-mile hike!” But I don’t say that.
My internal brakes slammed on. All I notice is resistance. Annoyance. Judgment.
I wanted it the way I envisioned it—a time to connect with others, maybe take some memorable photos and share personal stories. None of that could happen in utter silence.
But before I allowed my nagging negativity to completely dampen this experience, I took a giant step back and asked myself, what was I afraid of?
The truth is: I hate to be silent. After all these years, I still have to be mindful… of my mind. My brain explodes. Millions of thoughts hurdle through, non-stop, crashing into one another. What was I going to do without music or fun conversation? Without distractions?
I needed to let go of the judgment and become curious about the experience, or I was in for a loooong day.
And you know what? By the time I reached the top of that mountain I felt amazingly refreshed, rejuvenated and renewed. But I didn’t have a serene hike the whole way up. I wrestled with my monkey mind for the first two hours (the kids at home, the talk I had to prepare, my grumbling stomach).
And, I definitely fixated on when I could take a break and eat my trail mix.
Finally, about three quarters of the way up, I stopped to catch my breath for a second. I caught a whiff of ocean mixed with eucalyptus—and I could feel the scents easing my body. Then I looked down at the deep blue Pacific, my tightly laced hiking boots planted there in the dust, and I felt rooted.
I knew I was okay. That moment of serenity stretched out, and I couldn’t help but smile the rest of the way.
This experience reminded me of an essential life lesson—that accomplishing goals after breaking through resistance is always far sweeter and more satisfying to our spirits.
We all have these patterns where we fear moving away from our comfort zone. We resist. We judge. We don’t want to try something new. And this inclination to avoid risks? It can prevent us from doing things that we might actually enjoy.
If we could just shift the resistance into the same curiosity and wonder that a child might have, the experience can open up those once stagnant ways of thinking.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Do one thing a day that scares you.”
- Maybe you fear that fat in your food means fat on your body. Why not try incorporating healthy fats into your meal and become curious about how it makes you feel?
- Maybe you’re scared to open up to a friend, for fear that she will judge you. Instead, tell her what’s really going on. See how she responds when you let the real you out.
- Maybe you want to complete a triathlon or run a 10k, but you fear that you’re not cut out for racing. Instead, don’t compare yourself with other athletes and just focus on the thrill of training and getting stronger.
- Or maybe you fear silence, like I did.
Now it’s your turn: what have you been resisting out of fear? How can you turn this resistance into curiosity?
Oh, and just in case you were curious, here’s my Superfood Trail Mix recipe that kept me fueled in silence.
It makes a great on-the-go snack to bring along while traveling. Enjoy!
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup goji berries
- ½ cup coconut flakes
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and store in airtight container.
For more inspiration, listen to this Green Divas GVK: Good Vibrations with Kristin podcast…
~Asst. Ed. Green Diva Christine