Three years ago I burnt out and as part of that recovery I promised myself that I would prioritise my own healing every year by taking a summer trip somewhere where I can surrender any tension to pause and reset my system, just like I advise my clients to do. So in 2023 I planned to tick off some of my bucket list by travelling Europe in my little self build camper van Jasper!
My partner and I started in the UK, took the ferry to France and then made our way through Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy for two weeks. It was a quick visit to most places, but once we arrived at Lake Garda in Italy I felt as though I had somehow arrived home. It was as if the light changed and I could breathe deeply, letting go of many of the stressors in my everyday life. I spent most of the week reading, snoozing, eating, walking and discovering new things. Some of my favourite ways to pause and reset my system.
We arrived at Lake Garda and kicked the back doors of the van open because it was hot! Late in the 30’s and no air conditioning, so the first thing I did was jump in the lake, which is where I pretty much stayed for most of the trip. Floating, breathing, re-grounding and being! That word being. It wasn’t that long ago that the word “being” wasnt even in my internal dictionary. I spoke about it and taught about it, all the time thinking that I knew it and lived it, but I truly didn’t know what it felt like as a concept until a few years ago when I had the most deeply connecting and disarming experience where my body felt cloud like! Floating with no struggles, totally relaxed and at peace, clear headed and calm.
Growing up I often felt discombobulated (I love that word) and disconnected. Somehow wobbly at times. I would later come to find a new meaning for this years ago when I came to understand more about this being a past somatic trauma response, a heightened nervous system looking to detect emotional and physical threat. An exhausting home for my mind and a challenge when it came to pausing and resetting. Something I will forever be conscious of and always gentle and compassionate towards myself for.
So back to Italy! Something really incredible happened one day while floating on my back off the shore in Lake Garda. A mid day storm began to creep in over the mountain but I was curious and while others were retreating to their tents and vans, I didn’t want to have to leave the water. The rain didn’t bother me in that moment, in fact it felt freeing so I didn’t see the point of swimming back to shore. As the rain came in so quickly did the wind and the calm waters around me began to grow more and more challenging and with the waves throwing me side to side, I found myself having to fight harder to stay upright and balanced. Sound like a familiar metaphor?
With each new wave I had to kick up higher to reach over the peak and down into the next valley of the wave. Constantly battling as they came. I’m a confident swimmer growing up by the ocean in South Africa and was a water baby as soon as I could crawl but I began to feel anxious, worried that the waves were beginning to feel a little too much to handle and that no one would realise that I was struggling. That was the story I told myself, a little of the old programming resurfacing to trigger my nervous system.
The more I struggled, the more I suffered.
I knew how to survive in rough waters and I felt myself getting irritated for not coping very well as I rationally knew that I wasn’t really in any danger even though I felt differently in my body. As I watched wave after wave heading my way I realised that there was a pattern to this. A high wave and then a smaller wave. A high wave and then a smaller wave. As I began to focus on what I was witnessing, I began to see just how beautiful the patterns were and I found a relaxing rhythm in kicking up and then floating a little. After a while I had mastered the rhythm and had surrendered to the flow of the water while I floated amongst the waves.
After a little while the waters became a little less choppy and I was back to floating gently on my back staring at the clouds as they parted and made space for the sun again. I smiled knowing that I had been reminded of some things. That I am stronger than I give myself credit for and that surrendering instead of battling life’s challenges is often the best way to be for me. For me, surrendering means the opposite of battling. It means to be totally present and in the moment, to feel into what my body is experiencing, to trust my intuition, to let go and be in flow. A deep trust that life isn’t happening to me but for me. That when I make choices from a place of connection and calm, that I am acting from my most powerful place.
The lake reminded me that this is MBFI in action! My mind connected to my body. My body connected to my feelings and my feelings connected to my intuition! All working in balance to keep me whole, healthy & healed.
I came out of the water that day with a smile in my heart knowing that Mother Nature has the most incredible way of reminding us what it is to surrender. What a gift! Have you experienced a moment of surrender?
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