What I (RE) Learned 4 days in the jungle...

I had a wonderful, challenging, beautiful time this past week, hiking through the Jungle, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada to Ciudad Perdida, a “lost city” built by Indigenous Colombian tribes 1500 or so years ago. It’s high up on a mountain top, only reachable by foot, and helicopter. 

Anything is an opportunity to go deeper, into yourself and unlock wisdom that’s hiding there. I asked myself the question, what did you learn on this hike? Here are a few life lessons I was reminded of while I was walking (45 kms!)

  1. Go at my own pace. 

While walking, I was happiest when I went at my own pace. Sometimes I hurried to catch up to the leaders of our group, sometimes I slowed down to wait for the people behind. Really, though, I found the most flow and ease when I walked my own walk. Off the trail, this is true when it comes to where we at in life. I get down on myself sometimes for not being where I “should” be yet (married, kids, savings, etc), and this reminded me: my pace is the best pace, for me. 

2. We’re in this alone - together. 

Some of the best moments I had during this hike, were when, going at my own pace, a distance was created between the people ahead, and behind, and I found myself completely alone — in the middle of the jungle! This is a rare occurence, especially to feel so safe, doing it. I know I was safe, because I was alone in the moment, but also with the knowledge that I wasn’t really alone. Parts of my crew were ahead, and behind. Sometimes we would pause, and let everyone catch up, then start again. Life is kind of like that… we walk our own journeys, and if we are lucky, we have people who are along the way that help us feel safe. 

3. Feel Grateful - and Express your Gratitude! 

We had a wonderful crew of staff helping us, throughout the hike. We also had a good camaraderie between people who were willing to lend each other stuff and support one another. I thanked people profusely, and often. I looked them in the eyes and let them know how much I appreciated their support. I did this constantly, and genuinely. The result left me felling good, and grateful, and left the people helping me feeling valued and appreciated, thus being even more kind and helpful! It’s a win - win. 

4. Embrace curiosity. 

Our world is an amazing place. Our trek included, beyond the stunning scenery, a lot of information about the local culture and customs. I got the feeling about half of us completely ignored this part of the hike. They shifted weight, sighed, and looked eager to do anything else… By taking it all in, asking more questions, and really allowing my imagination to delve into what it must have been like, what it might be like, to live deep in the Jungle like that… It made the experience that much richer and more satisfying for me. Back in your regular life - where can curiosity be a door to depth and connection in your life? Try taking something that you may have previously thought of as boring, and get really curious about it. What happens? 

5. It’s all in my head. 

I create my own reality. As much as this was a physically gruelling hike, a huge portion of the work happened in my mental and breath bodies. I watched myself lean into a ridiculously steep hillside, and exhale, and invite the sensations… I enjoyed the quickening of my heart rate, and saltiness of the sweat pouring off my body. Really, it was an exquisite experience of being alive… and the harder it was, the more alive I felt. I actively kept my spirits up by listening to music, shaking around, noticing flowers, butterflies, the stunning beauty of nature.