No, it wasn’t the subway train in NYC that the title suggests, it was the Subway Trail in Zion National Park, Utah.
It was almost a two hour drive from our cabin to get to the trailhead, so my husband, kids and I were eager to get hiking. Even though my legs were feeling like rubber from the previous day’s strenuous hike, I felt excited about this Subway hike adventure. Stepping out of our nicely air-conditioned car, we were blasted with the 104 degree heat that felt like an oven when opening the door. Regardless, I felt prepared with plenty of water, hat, lunch and sunscreen. “Bring it on,” I said to myself.
The trail started out somewhat level but quickly turned into a straight down decent with huge rocks, boulders and shale to overcome. I had to sit down on my butt to scale down the rocks because my already shaky legs were beginning to wobble. Determined to not ruin the hike for the rest of my family, I kept on and did not mention how blisters were forming within my boots, how heavy my digging-into-my-shoulders backpack was, and how shaky I really was feeling. Several miles later, we reached a stream and I spoke up. I couldn’t go any further without a lot of rest. I told them to go on without me and that I’d be waiting for them at this same spot until they returned, even if it took hours.
I have been telling my clients for years that there is benefit in everything that is experienced, maybe different degrees of benefit, but benefit none-the-less. When you look for the gift, you always find it, and I certainly found mine this day.
During the several hours alone at this stream, I found a very sweet spot, enjoying the much needed shade of an Aspen tree next to the delicious sounds of water running over rocks. Buzzing by me were red dragonflies, bumble bees and yellow butterflies, each dancing with the nature around them. The breeze was nice and the view of the mountain of rock that I had just descended was breath-taking. Click hear to see a short video of this view. It was perfect and serene which gave me a chance to reflect on the wonderful life that I have and how blessed that I am. I was in a beautiful meditative state filled with wonder and gratitude.
My family returned finding me significantly cooled off and ready to ascend the several miles up, up, up to our car. What I didn’t know was that climbing up was going to prove a lot more difficult than hiking down. Having to make huge steps up to conquer every boulder, each move was arduous. I never wished for a switchback trail as much as I did at this time. The combination of the altitude, strenuous climb, and heat was making me feel faint and out of breath. A whopping headache was forming, to boot. Having experienced this once before, I knew that I was in the middle of heat exhaustion. I drank tons of water, stuck salt pellets under my tongue, but to no avail. The symptoms were only getting worse with at least 2 miles of straight-up trail to traverse.
Here’s the great part of this story, though: What got me through the climb was ME observing my thoughts, feeling and emotions. I noticed that whenever I had a thought like, “I wish we were at the top already,” I had worsening of symptoms. But, when I was so present that I was noticing the lizards scurrying across the trail, ants marching with their treasures clamped within their jaws, and the shades of reds of the amazing rocks, I had more energy and vitality. When I’d flip back into feeling pain and saying, “Ouch, my head hurts,” I doubted if I could make it to the top. However, when I was focused on the here-and-now, I knew that I’d not only make it, but be just fine. At one point, I even heard Angelic tones and sounds in my ears. I knew that I wasn’t alone on that trail and that I had the company of some amazing Light Beings.
I also counted my blessings of what I was experiencing on that trail. I felt the love of my family so keenly: My daughter insisted on taking my heavier backpack for her lighter one; my son’s jokes and funny faces made me laugh; and, my husband held out his hand at each big boulder, helping me every step of the way. I felt comforted knowing that I was surrounded by love and protection. “Life is good,” I thought.
In the end, I made it just fine. I reached the top, rested and ate ice cream with my family while each one of us shared our triumphs of that day. How does it get better than that?!
Presence is being in the space of all possibilities. – Tamara Green
Tips for staying present, even when things are rough:
- Don’t focus on your feelings. Instead, in your mind, describe what you see in front of you. For instance, when I saw the lizards, I would say to myself, “Oh, that one is about 6 inches long, has a brown body with dark gray spots on it’s back.” I did not focus on whether I liked lizards or not, but just stuck to the details of what I saw. This instantly put me into the present moment and it can certainly work for you, too.
- Focus on the benefits. Even the worst moments have a degree of benefit to them, so look for what they are. This is where you can turn your wounds, fears and pain into your gifts. For instance, I was so touched by my family’s love and caring. Focusing on that really kept me going. Try it, you’ll see what I’m talking about here.
- Be the witness of YOU when you are going through something “difficult.” Instead of paying attention to your upset, fear and pain, be curious, fascinated and interested in what’s going on. The more you do this, the easier it becomes, so keep at it.
I know that this advice can be challenging at times of emotional and physical suffering, but the self-respect and admiration in the end make it all worth while. Take a stab at these tips and you’ll find that you are not your body, your feelings or your emotions, but rather an Energy Being capable of shifting your focus into the realm of possibilities. Have fun creating your experiences.