Yesterday I stood in front of a minor mountain, looking up at what seemed like an impossible climb.
At first glance, my mind filled with doubt and fear and 100 reasons to turn back. As I tried to come up with reasons why I could/should/would be doing this, my mind went completely blank. I was about to shut down, as I often do when faced with a challenge.
Get out of your head. Get into your body. I said to myself. Don’t get ahead of yourself. One step at a time, one breath.
I slowly, tentatively began to climb up and out of my comfort zone. Hand over foot over hand. Reaching, grabbing, fighting against gravity, heart racing, blood pounding, chest tightening, mouth drying, sweat streaming. The very same physiology as a panic attack!
Is this panic? Am I panicking right now? I could panic right now. I might panic!
Stop. Inhale, reach, grab. Exhale, step, lift.
And then I was right in the middle of the thing. Halfway up. Don’t look down. There’s no need to look back. There’s also no point in wondering what’s up ahead? No need to question if it will be steeper, rockier, craggier? Will it be wet and slippery? Are there loose rocks? Will there be spiders and snakes?
Inhale, reach, grab. Exhale, step, lift. This moment, this step, this breath.
Don’t look ahead. If you look ahead you will see doubt, fear, defeat. Stay in this moment, with this step and this breath. Don’t worry that at some point we will circle back around and have to descend this monster. Just continue to climb carefully. This moment, this hand, this foot, this breath.
One step, one breath.
How many mountains have we already climbed this way? How many are still ahead? What are your mountains made of?
Whether you find yourself standing there staring down a mountain of grief, a mountain of regrets, a mountain of anger, a mountain of debt, a mountain of worry, a mountain of resentment, a mountain of pain, a mountain of confusion, a mountain of cancer, a mountain of fear, it makes no difference.
Our mountains may be made of different things. But a successful climb is always the same. One moment at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time. It’s how we all move through this life. It’s how we all move mountains.
One step, one breath.