The Hemp Connection + women

Rocking your world…and your vision…with climbing

As luck would have it, just as I was about to give up on having a topic to write about, my friends at the coffeehouse where I am working today started talking about rock climbing. And there I had it, something fun to talk about.: )

Many moons ago in graduate school, my friend Julie, an avid climber who had trekked Nepal and slept dangling off of Half Dome, invited me to spend an afternoon with her at the Boulder Flatirons. They're not big or tall, and I figured, as many other sports as I'd tried and done well with, this would be easy.


Who knew a piece of rock could be so challenging? We went up to the top, tied ourselves in, and I learned to belay…which for those of you not familiar with it, is kind of like what Batman likes to do down the side of buildings. It was fun, once I learned to trust that Julie had tied us in safely enough that nothing I did was going to result in my crashing to earth.

At one point I lost my footing, and found myself dangling about 50 feet above solid ground. I panicked, and Julie called from above,"It's ok, Mon, you're safe. Relax and enjoy the beautiful view!"

"Are you freaking kidding? I'm flailing on a rock and you want me to enjoy it?"

She let me hang long enough to have no other option. I like to call it my lesson in extreme mindfulness, which I use to this day. Even in the most stressful of moments, and as I have learned, especially in the most stressful of moments, when mindfulness is the hardest thing to achieve, it is the most important thing to achieve.

After I calmed down, and looked around, Julie was right. There WAS a beautiful view to be enjoyed. Of course there was. That is why we went to the rock in the first place! How many times do we get so caught up in where we are going…that we forget to appreciate the view and the lessons to be learned right where we are?

We eventually got down to the ground, and Julie said,"Now, back up!" And we had to climb back up the same rock we'd just sported down.

Much harder than the Batman thing.

And so we started back up. That was an exercise in strength (fingertip strength too, not just the big guys!), flexibility, trust, and endurance. It was also a great exercise in strategic thinking, for in rock climbing, you have to be thinking about two, three, four moves up the rock, not just what you're doing in the moment. How many times do you get so stressed that you only think about the current moment, only to act impulsively in a way that sets you up for trouble two, three, four moments in the future?

About halfway up the rock I got stuck. Nowhere, absolutely nowhere that I looked, did I see a crack, crevice, ledge, anything finger or toe friendly that I could use to advance myself. Julie, the most amazingly patient teacher for an exercise like this, reminded me that I had the safety of the rope which allowed me to swing a bit off my current position. She encouraged me to try moving just a half inch to the right.

And there it was, a half inch away, a half dozen new possibilities of working up the rock miraculously waiting for me to discover.

How many times have you been so invested in things having to be one way, the way you want them to be, that you shut yourself out of a host of other ways to get to the same place?

And of course, the feeling of accomplishment upon arriving at the top is one that no one should be denied.

There is physical benefit to rock climbing, but what I love about it, is the mental training. It is a great exercise in mindfulness, trust, problem solving, intentional choices, all the skills you need to work yourself out of some of the situations and behaviors that keep you stuck where you don't want to be.

I encourage you, regardless of your size or current physical condition, if there is a climbing course or indoor climbing wall near you, to get out and try it.

It could open up a world of new ways of thinking and acting that you never considered…some of which could be life changing.

confidence, fun, health, love, mental exercise, relax, rock climbing, thinking, and more:

Rocking your world…and your vision…with climbing + women