It really is all in the mind

So a bunch of friends and I decided to do a short 2-hour hike this morning. It was sort of steep, climbing to an elevation of 8,300 feet (approximately) is simple compared to the much arduous treks in India. This wasn’t a trek as most of my friends believed it to be — there’s a major difference. But let’s not go there.

This was my first ever trek. And I was struggling. At first to catch my breath and then to climb the hill. The path wasn’t dangerously narrow but was challenging nevertheless. One of our friends experienced vertigo merely 10 minutes into the hike!

We carried on boldly but our energy levels began to go down. It was getting harder with each step. Quite literally. I was whining. And so was one of my friends. We even asked, “what’s the point of all this?” Which was funny — it was our idea to begin with!

Nonetheless, we dragged ourselves further, upwards and continued to whine, cry and complain about the whole experience. I had a DSLR (which added more weight to my already hefty, 85 kilo frame) that helped me distract myself from the misery of hiking up the hill. For a while, the mind kept asking “the point” of this excursion. I didn’t have an answer.

At one point, I even felt I would faint. Which is silly. I think I’m pretty well conditioned to handle endurance activities. I pulled out my phone to check my heart beat and it varied between 88 and 95 beats per minute. It surprised me because I was feeling much miserable and the reading is clearly average (even above average) for some one carrying out an endurance activity.

It dawned on me that I wasn’t experiencing a stroke or was as gassed out as I thought I was. Mentally, I hate endurance activities (kettlebells and strong endurance are a different beast altogether and I love them)! And it clearly reflected in my physiology during the climb.

Just about that time the guide called out to me and pointed towards a small temple up at the top of the hill. That was our destination. And just looking at it changed my physiology. I began to climb faster with more energy and rigour. I’d found my goal and knew precisely how to get there.

Ten minutes later when I finally arrived at the top I sat down at the steps of that temple. Brooding on what really happened during the climb. Our mind acts in funny ways. It’s powerful beyond measure and holds the key that can literally unlock in the best in us.

The hike made me realise how important it is for me to know where I am going and that I would make the silliest of excuses to get out of situation that has no purpose or is ambiguous. Not that it’s bad but I clearly missed on enjoying 70% of the journey to the top because I couldn’t see the destination. I didn’t know where I was going. But my other friends were more in-the-moment and just continued to climb to the top. They were pleasantly surprised to find out where they were going while I was getting worried and anxious to know where I am going.

But that’s just me. I need to know the context before delving into a commitment. Without which I’ll probably fool myself into thinking the worst possible scenarios. The important takeaway, however, was that the mind can make or break your case. Depends on what information you feed it.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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