Zen, Rock Climbing and Knitting
So what does that have to do with rock climbing? As some of you know, I spend a few days a week throughout the summer taking youth on outdoor outings. Often, they are noisy, chattery, and busy hikes to local lakes for swimming, or kayaking on other local lakes, with the kids jumping from boats or rocks with accompanying screams of delight. These outings aren't usually very conducive to mindfulness. However, yesterday our group did some challenging rock climbing at the top of Yuba Pass. Now, I have done some roped climbing over the years, as I have been with this program for eight summers. I have also seen my hands get worn out from all the handwork and computer work I do, so I was belaying and not climbing yesterday.
At one point, when we were ready to begin a group rappeling, they took off with one leader, and another urged me to "catch up" and be there for my kids as they came down the long face. I got "misplaced", more than once, as they quickly got out of sight. Note, I DO NOT use the word "lost" here, as I had great views up on top, and could see the Sierra Valley, the roofs of the snow park a mile or so away, where we had parked, etc. and knew exactly where I was, just not what route they had taken. I began to realize that I was needing to concentrate very hard on where I put each foot and hand as I scrambled up and down boulder patches, and that this, too, was an exercise in mindfulness. In this case, mindfulness would keep me safe, helping me choose my moves wisely, shift my body appropriately, and get to a destination where the ground was stable once again.
A very different sort of mindfulness than created by knitting!
I heard the first rappeler whoop with delight, and found my way to them at the bottom of the face, but never did find a route to the top, and missed the chance for rappeling, which I still can manage and delight in... it was awesome to watch the young people work outside of what was comfortable and make such huge progress.