Take the time, get quiet, feel into it.
Grand Canyon is a harsh place, full of extremes, but is also a place of profound beauty.
Part of the magic of such an immersive trip as the Grand Canyon is the opportunity to get off the water and explore the Canyon by foot. There are tons of things to see, do, discover, and explore in between the miles on the river, in between the towering walls.
And being where we were, in a remote place, with little chance of getting help if we needed it, we had to pay attention even as we were exploring. During our hikes, we stayed aware of where we placed our feet, and we watched where we put our hands. Things in the Canyon are sharp, pointy, hot, and hard…and some of them sting and bite.
Throughout our trip, the waters of the Colorado River remained a brilliant emerald green. Views during side hikes were breathtaking. One memorable side hike in particular led us up and up and up to a place called “The Patio” at Deer Creek. The hike up was long and hot; switchbacks allowed us to catch glimpses of the glimmering river below.
At the top of this hike, we carefully traversed a very narrow ledge trail next to a narrow slot canyon. From this ledge, I could see a clear downward view of a narrow slot canyon. Through this narrow sluice, and rushing to its end, the water poured over the side as a huge, roaring waterfall.
Reaching the end of the narrow ledge trail, the area opened up and we got our reward: up here, the rock slabs were flat and wide and the creek was shallow, clear, and cold. Greenery and trees grew in the shade, nourished by the reliable water source.
Here, all my senses were involved. I moved away from the other people to better enjoy the quiet. Compared to the heat at the bottom of the Canyon, this cool green shaded patio-like area was delicious reward. I was beyond grateful for the break from the steep climb and from the relentless heat. Up here, I could smell the dampness in the air. I crushed some greenery between my fingers and gave it a good sniff. Standing in the middle of the creek, I splashed cold water on my face, feeling invigorated, marveling at how beautiful and surprising this area turned out to be.
After an easier and speedier hike down, my group climbed back aboard our rafts feeling rejuvenated and happy for the experience. We felt calmer and completely immersed in nature. All of our senses were enlivened.
Many of the side hikes on this trip were a mixture of awe-inducing views and laughter-inducing fun. We each took time to get quiet and feel into the experiences; we were “all in” and these experiences changed us for the better.
Beyond the Canyon
“There is a stubborn and dangerously wrong-headed myth that there is a trade-off between high performance at work and taking care of ourselves.” Arianna Huffington, Thrive
The whole premise of my Make Some Room Manifesto (see the bottom of the page) is to remind myself to take time and make some room in my life. This affects everything I do, have, and even how I “be.”
As I slow down, take time, get quiet, and begin to feel again, life changes. I change.
Arianna Huffington, in her book Thrive, shares four reasons to let your mind wander:
- You use a different kind of intellect
- It enhances your ability to think creatively
- You become more empathetic
- It’s a portal to self-discovery
Sometimes the answers come when you slow down, give yourself time to feel your way into a problem and immerse your whole self in it.
“How do I do that?” you might be asking.
Easy: sit and do nothing.
Gratefully, this requires you to buy nothing, have no special skills, and really asks for no commitment beyond your agreement to actually sit there.
- Small amounts of time (5-10 minutes).
- Find a comfortable place.
- Choose to look at something that makes you feel peaceful (for example, a photo of your pet or child, a flower, or a candle/flame). Really notice the feeling of peace.
- Prepare NOT to be interrupted for however long you choose – turn off your electronic devices, inform the people in your life you wish to be undisturbed (Note: this is an excellent exercise in setting and holding self-care boundaries)
- Pay attention to your breath – this helps you focus, center, and be calm
- Relax! Don’t worry about a certain way to sit or worry about perfect posture. Choose to be comfortable.
- Practice: starting at your toes, tense-up your muscles (one at a time) and relax them, moving up your body tensing and relaxing your muscles all the way to the top of your head. This does take some focus and some practice. Give it a try! You’ll feel decidedly different by the end of the exercise.
- Continue to practice “doing nothing” daily (but maybe not all day)
In the weirdest, most wonderful way, doing nothing actually helps me feel into life; I become immersed in it! And this doing nothing is one of my favorite “something” to do activities.
A bit more challenging – engage in full-on PLAY!
Brené Brown’s research on play reveals, “Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work. It can bring back excitement and newness to our job…Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work. In the long run, work does not work without play.” (from her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, p. 101)
And I say LIFE does not work without PLAY.
Go and do whatever it is that makes you laugh, feel like a kid, connects with your spirit, gets your hands dirty, covers you with paint and glitter, and makes your stomach hurt from laughing.
Ways to make some room (through play and/or full immersion in an activity):
- Building structures (blanket caves, box forts, stick shelters)
- Make believe using anything in nature
- Role playing wearing costumes
- Creating rhymes or poems
- Make believe using action figures or other toys
- Chasing, tagging, tumbling, running
- Work (yes, you can get fully immersed in work)
- Your ideas…
Martha Beck (the well-known life coach and author of many best-selling books) has banished the word “work” from her vocabulary. Now, she playfully invites you to “play until it’s time to rest and rest until it is time to play.”
Also, stay tuned for Chapter Six (Be discerning) next week!
[All content and photos are (c) 2016 Angela Mattson Stegall and Nelson Stegall for the book, Make Some Room: Powerful Life Lessons Inspired by an Epic 16-day Colorado River Rafting Trip Through Grand Canyon.The book will be available mid-June through Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats.]