Updated: Feb 27
When my wife and I started having kids, we made the decision to homeschool them. This meant my wife needed to stay home and maintain the school’s day to day operations. I, therefore, had to take up some extra jobs to cover for the now missing salary. As a cop, side jobs were plentiful and paid decently enough. I worked five jobs for 15 years.
Before all this, I had lots of fun and friends. I would participate in karate tournaments, ride ATVs and dirt bikes, shoot guns, and generally have a good time.
One of the activities I enjoyed was rappelling.
Rappelling is the act of descending a mountain, cliff, or other obstacle using a climbing rope and a harness. The harness is worn around the waist and legs and a figure eight device is attacked to the front. The rope is snaked through the figure eight, around the waist, and held in the strong hand.
Several things are important to know when rappelling.
First, one cannot rappel while vertical. You need to plant your feet against the surface you’re traversing and lean back. Keep leaning until you are nearly horizontal. You should be facing the sky. Otherwise, your feet will not contact the cliff face correctly and you will skid down the cliff on your face. Been there. Not fun.
Secondly, you must kick away from the cliff. Sure, you can walk backwards a little at a time. But this will take a while. One discovers quickly that kicking away from the cliff and sailing downward toward the earth is faster and, honestly, so much more exciting.
Third. You must release your grip on the rope. The rope slides through your hands. When you want to slow down again, you simply bring the rope around your body and press your hand against the beltline or back of your hip. This will slow you down and stop you.
The Australian style rappelling even more exciting. You stand at the top of the cliff and lean forward so you are facing the earth below. Then start walking or jumping down the cliff. When you need to slow or stop, you bring the rope around to the front of you.
It occurred to me the other day while I was reminiscing these fun times that the lessons of rappelling could and should be applied to life.
One. When facing a situation which would normally be considered stress-inducing, plant your feet. Stand strong knowing that you have what it takes to succeed. You have likely been in a similar circumstance before. Or you may have been preparing for this event and are ready to proceed. Or, in the worst case, if this is something entirely new to you, plant your feet in the knowing that you are certainly strong enough to overcome this challenge.
Two. Change your perspective. We often look at difficult situations from a singular point of view, thinking of the worst that can happen. We miss important details that might be helpful moving forward. Sometimes, solutions are found in the least likely of scenarios. As we create stress in our bodies, it affects how we approach the circumstance we are in at the moment. By planting our feet and looking at the event from a different viewpoint, we can gather more information and make a wiser choice in how to move forward.
Three. Leap. Jump into the fray with confidence. In rappelling, looking up into the sky and leaping backward into the unknown toward the earth is unnerving. It’s not what we’re used to doing or how we look at the world. But if we want to get down, we must take action. In the same way, if we want to get through the situation at hand, we must gather information and take definitive action. We must move forward. Jump. Leap into it. Do something.
Four. Let go of control. We try to control every aspect of every part of the equation before we take our first step. This causes us extra work. It gets us nowhere. Trying to control everything before we begin leads us into “analysis paralysis.” We spend more effort trying to control things than doing things. To get to our destination, we must let go of the idea of control and learn to trust. If you plan for 27 outcomes to this current circumstance, and only one result is possible, you have exerted so much effort that never comes to fruition. All that effort wasted. Let go. You’re ready, move forward.
Concentrate on the here and now. This very moment. Not the countless future combinations of consequences.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of equanimity. Calm amidst chaos. Full awareness without judgment or attachment. Bending with the storm instead of bracing against it.
In police training, we are taught how stress affects the body. Tunnel vision, auditory blocking, loss of fine motor skills, altered time. To combat this effect, we are taught to look around. Take in all information at once. Be aware of everything. After every firing sequence at the range, they tell us to “scan and holster.” This means be aware that it’s always possible to tunnel your vision at what you were just aiming and shooting. Pull back, look around, scan your surroundings. Then holster your weapon. If stress has you focused on one thing, you may miss something important.
The effects of stress are real. The way we overcome stress is also real.
The lessons of rappelling are that when facing a stressful situation, plant your feet, take it all in, leap, and let go.
Joe “Weeg” Weigant is an empowerment coach who specializes in energy work (Reiki, Acupressure, Tuning Forks, Massage, Sound/Vibration Therapy) to release trauma, reset the autonomic nervous system, and balance the energy systems of the body to achieve lasting peace. He utilizes muscle testing to determine needs for herbal remedies by Nature’s Sunshine and Pure Herbs Ltd. Weeg teaches Karate and Tai Chi, certification in Reiki, as well as seminars and workshops in metaphysical and spiritual matters. Weeg is available for sessions at Tri State Holistic Wellness by appointment only.
Contact by text 812.568.5356, or Facebook Messenger to set an appointment.