Skiing Moguls is My Meditation Practice of Choice
After a year of living in a ski town, our Saturday existence has fallen into place. I pay a trillion dollars to anyone that will take my kids, and then I meet my best friend who has also paid a trillion dollars to be kidless for the day. We ski just enough to go from chair to chair until we reach our beloved destination- Alpino Vino- a warm cozy Italian bistro on the mountain. We join the rest of the gang who has been skiing all morning (wise women who don’t have children, and fathers who on a powder day, apparently don’t either). It’s ok, we don’t mind joining late because when we arrive everyone is rosy red and happy as can be, the wine and food already flowing. We are the guest stars.
After a nice long lunch, we’re ready to ski! Like groundhog day, the same few guys initiate the same discussion about where to ski, as if anyone cares but the two of them. I normally just sit back and follow their lead, but this day I’m feeling a little tentative. I had a bad fall a few weeks ago, and truth be told I am in possible denial about having the flu or strep (yes, my kids tested positive for BOTH the day before).
It’s going to be a tough week with sick kiddos, work deadlines, and a birthday party for a very particular birthday girl who thanks to my mother is expecting a magician as if we were still in New York City. I can’t really afford to overdo it.
So just like any other responsible mother would do, after of course leaving her sick kids with a sick babysitter, I choose safety.
“Let’s ski bumps- I need to take care of my body.”
Everyone looks at me like I’m nuts and since they are all great skiers, the only explanation I offer is,
“What? I won’t get injured on bumps” and then somewhat jokingly, “Remember, consciousness is the new control?” By now they are used to my wacky explanations so I get only a few loving eye rolls, and off we go.
As we skied the rest of the afternoon, I thought about how much moguls have taught me about mindfulness. Nothing has been more effective. Not even tennis, and certainly not meditation.
Skiing bumps literally forces me to be present and deeply attuned moment to moment. The harder the run, the better. And only when I’m conscious, do I have a shot at control and my desired outcome. It’s like having a loaded gun to your head and someone telling you to focus on the gun, back to the gun, gun, gun — that should work too. The consequences are just too high to do anything else.
I learned how to ski as a grown-up and am pretty obsessive when I decide to learn a new skill. I know exactly what I’m doing when I’m doing it, and when things go wrong, I deconstruct and practice until I understand it on a physical level. Nerdy perfectionist types (a lot of whom are better skiers than me) love to ski with me, not because I’m great at it but because I can tell you at any moment what my pinky toe is doing, and if you let me, yours too. I have a checklist that I am constantly going through and tweaking as I go — I keep my vibration high and am committed to staying in a peak state.
Living consciously means doing whatever you need to do to live moment to moment, and skiing moguls forces me to do that, bump to bump. My connection with the terrain forces me to constantly drop the previous moment/ mogul, and decide what to do in the next moment/ mogul based on only the mogul I’m currently on.
Now, these are life lessons I can get on board with.
It’s worthless to cling to the past:
If I have a bad turn, and let it throw me, I’ll drag my pole behind clinging behind me for safety. You know what I mean when you absurdly logic that the end of your pole will slow down a la Flintstones. Not too different than when we feel insecure and go back to the emotional patterns, people, habits that we know don’t serve us. And just like in skiing, dragging that arm back just opens you up and puts you in a compromised position to move forward.
Once you go for it, fully commit
Every time you plant that pole and initiate the turn, you got jump in like you’re jumping in a pool. The more you commit the safer you’ll be. It’s not that it was the right choice, but once you’re on your way, it’s the only choice or your stuck between two worlds, without the momentum to go and without the control to stop. Never fight the mountain, nature always wins.
Indecision is a terrible decision
Remember when you first started skiing and you thought it was a good idea to go straight across the mountain to control your speed. On the bumps, these are the runaway trains that everyone watches from the lift bracing themselves to see how it ends. Clouded by regret and anxiety, they do nothing active and rather than taking a pause, and gain speed in the wrong direction with little chance of smooth recovery.
This reminds me of when I’ve stayed in bad situations because I didn’t know what to do next. An exorbitant amount of energy to go absolutely nowhere. When you finally stop, you have less confidence and energy, to change your approach, perpetuating the downward cycle.
Self-talk and affirmations are real
With skiing, the running dialogue in your brain is beyond important. It doesn’t take Eckhart Tole to tell you that if you go down the mountain saying “I’m screwed”, “I suck”, I’m going to die” you are not helping yourself. When I feel like my skiing is off, or I get scared, I know that I cannot afford to indulge in the doubts that come up. Instead, I run through the things that I know work. I redirect my thoughts from “you better not break a leg”, to thinking about where my heels are, whether I feel my obliques, and jumping in the aforementioned swimming pool. The language we use to describe our situations is so much more important than most of us realize. For example, this morning as I dressed, carried and lugged my child into the car (as she pretended to sleep), and the other one went bananas because she needed to wear tap shoes to school… I had to consciously stop the dialogue in my head. What good does it do to reinforce my frustration with words? It only escalates in a toxic way. But that’s a discipline that I have chosen, and maybe not even a necessary one for most people.
The difference is that with skiing, when a thought leads you astray, it can be deadly.
Only by assessing moment to moment, remembering my goal and direction, and keeping my thoughts pure can I make the next best move. And only when I stay loyal and keep coming back to the present moment, (not my past or even ten seconds from now), do I have the best chance to stay present (and in control).
It is the ultimate meditation. The best spiritual practice for extreme personality types.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cruisers, and I love to go fast blasting my music. In fact, if you’ve skied with me, you might recognize me as the person who is dancing on her skis letting the music dictate my posture, positioning, and rhythm instead of the mountain.
When I’m cruising, yes, I’m in flow. I feel the air, I’m connected with nature, but I don’t need to be meticulous with staying present, my mind can wander, my thoughts can roam….
It’s glorious, it feels like flying, and then every now and then…
“I don’t know what happened”
“I hit a patch of ice”
“My ski fell off”
“Snowboarder cut me off”
Just like in life, when you’re not truly aware of what you were doing, it’s hard to own co-creation, and the knee jerk reaction is looking outwards for understanding. Similarly to when we are completely blinded by something or someone, it’s not me, it’s them. In my 20s I convinced myself that every guy who dumped me (seemingly out of nowhere) was gay, and every woman who betrayed me was jealous. What a disempowered way to live!
When you’re not aware moment to moment, the tiniest glitch takes you down. And the higher you fly, the faster you go, the harder you fall. A change in the conditions, an unforeseen challenge, a circumstance beyond your control…
Who knows? Down you go.
Next thing you know you’re sliding helplessly down the mountain hoping something/someone will catch you before you collide with a tree.
In relationships, jobs, and even our habits, the longer we remain unconscious, the more susceptible we are to falling, and the harder the hit.
That’s why mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and mogul skiing are so important- because you can work on awareness on the mat, and apply it to your “real” life more and more.
If skiing moguls are my practice, then cruisers are real life. The more I practice, the faster I get to go. I was lucky enough to learn skiing this way, and every run becomes a mogul run, some are just faster than others. I check-in constantly, and discern, making necessary adjustments to stay consciously in control. And I commit.
I still go fast, and dance to my music, as there is no better drug available. I just do my best not to blackout.
I believe in the power of education, technology, personal growth and lifelong learning.
But I know from experience that these are not enough. Information without understanding is confuses and misleads. Education and talent without application debilitates growth. Awareness without transformation only stifles action.
- SO LET'S TAKE SOME ACTION -
My goal is to get the wind at your back so that you can live authentically, aligned, and create by mindful design:
I hate SPAM. I will never share your info or spam your inbox. Pinky Promise!