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equipping alpine seekers



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Guest Post: Permission to Get Lost

Rattlesnake Ridge trees cr Jill Yotz, 2014

Happy hump day, mountain people,

This is Jill's second post on MN about the gnosis and transformation she experiences while running (read her first post here). In a recent newsletter I digressed a bit about fear. Jill is expert at transforming her fear into an awakening sensation. Instead of consuming her, her fear becomes a call back to the reality of her practice: running in the forest.

Enjoy her beautiful words and image.


Make sure what is in front of your eyes is behind your eyes as well.
Don’t look at your friend and think about work.
And don’t look at a sunset and think about the next day.
Align what is in front of your eyes with what is behind them.
Sunset in front.
Sunset behind.
— source anashramof1

Racing along a new path, it is easy to allow the fear of getting lost distract me from physical discomfort. Instead of meditating on my body's connection with nature, my brain is counting bends in the trail. I drown out my internal compass with fears and hesitations about going too far and not being able to find my way back- to the trailhead, to the car, to the past and future of a familiar life. A headlamp provides the only illumination on these early autumn mornings, and I can see just a few strides ahead. Pace, instead of smooth and trusting, is jarring and hesitant in anticipation of unseen obstacles beyond my bubble of light. Instead of living in the present, I live in the immediate future- in the moment just beyond the light, where potentially twisted ankles and unknown hills lurk. To combat the dark unknown, I get stronger headlamps to light my way: fifty lumens, 100 lumens, then 200 lumens. Yet no matter how far in front I light up the trail, the black edge of unknowing is still there. 

We must give ourselves permission to get lost - for how can we ever be fully present if we are worried about getting back to where we started, if we are worried about where we will end up? There is no fear in the present: the fear of pain and failure exist up ahead in a future we cannot see that may never come to be. Struggling not to let the fear of what lies ahead inform my running, I breathe deeply and exhale fully, relax shoulders, adjust cadence; I invite my mind to rest gently on nothing except for my body in nature and the few illuminated paces ahead. The rain becomes a caress against my face, footfalls kiss the trail, downed branches baptize my calves with mossy moisture. I settle into the discomfort of trusting my stride and the trail in the darkness, trusting this tiny, illuminated moment because this moment is all I have. Trusting that the unseen path will lead me to exactly where I need to go.