Inside the Mind of a Mountain: Hiking Cerro Chirripo – a mindfulness experience
Are you good at hiking? –asked the ticket window officer
I swiftly replied “Oh, yes”, not knowing what I was getting myself into.
20 kilometers up the highest mountain in Costa Rica: Cerro Chirripo –2300 mts/12533 ft. was the challenge: what an incredible experience. It was so much more than a physical feat, though. It’s a steep, challenging road, so reaching the top is very rewarding, but the experience became a way to conquer not only the mountain but also my mind.
Let’s take a hike up the mountain together and into the mind!
But first: why visit the Chirripo Mountain, you ask?
Talk about a magical place: peace, stillness, power, energy. This is one of the most beautiful mountains in America, a true jungle experience. The vegetation is so unique and imposing, a powerful energy that fills you with life. What a treat! And make sure to look up at times to catch the charming show of colorful birds you will be able to admire.
Alright now, hold on to that backpack real tight as we start to hike up the mountain together. I will take you on an adventure inside the cerro and the mind!
What is hiking this mountain like, you ask? Let us explore this road inside and out together.
- Kilometers 1-4: you are wowed by the nature surrounding you, in awe at the beauty and want to take it all in. You are full of energy and feel like there is nothing you can’t do, and this challenge just has nothing on you. You have barely noticed you are hiking up pretty steeply as everything around you is new and breathtaking. Mind says: “I love this! I’m SO happy we are doing this.”
- Kilometer 5: you now realize there are still 10 more kilometers to go till the lodge and you need to pace yourself better. Your mind says: “Hmm that was only 5 kilometers so far…I thought we had gone farther…, and we still have double the miles to go…okay, okay, I can do this.”
- Kilometer 7: you have now started to keep careful track of the kilometers you have advanced and are counting every single one as one more small victory. You realize you are practically half-way there and feel like you got this. “Just keep going, we can do this” says your mind.
<<Okay. Take a deep breath now. Things are about to get challenging.>>
- Kilometer 9: now the distance left is shorter than the one under your belt. “Wow. Okay, I really got this I think. Or, do I? How much longer??”. Your mind is starting to take you different places to trick you into thinking this is harder than you thought, this is harder than you may be able to handle. “No, really, how much longer?” says your mind. Your body may still be feeling good as it has now picked up the rhythm and is on a roll. Your legs feel strong and you are keeping a good, steady pace, but your mind isn’t in this one step you are taking. Your mind is one step ahead, taking you to the future, focusing on how much you still have left to go, and how much more difficult it will get. What do you do? Do you listen to your mind, or, listen to your body? Which do you think can support you better?
- Kilometer 11: the hike is starting to get harder. You feel like you are so close, yet that goal feels so far. You are now out in open air so it feels a bit like you have reached the top. “I am at the top of my game” says the mind for a moment, “but when will we get there?”. The mind keeps fasting you forward making you anxious about what is still left, instead of what you have actually accomplished. <<About now it is a good idea to take a moment to realize how far you have come and give yourself a pat on the back.>> Let us focus on the one step we are taking at each moment. If you keep looking up ahead, you will feel tired faster. Instead of counting the steps you have left to walk, focus on counting one step at a time: “one step, one step, one step…” And so I did.
- Kilometers 12-13: we have now reached the most difficult phase of the hike, both physically and mentally. And you notice the sign with the name for these kilometers: The Repentents. “Hmmm. Okay, great, this sounds like a tough part, but I will not be defeated”—says the mind, “I will not be one of the repentents, I can do this”. That is the initial thought, but when the hike starts to get really steep, you doubt yourself. Fortunately, there is so little left to travel, it gives you hope that you can do it. You get a second wing. Okay, a tiny wing, but you think of hummingbirds with their tiny wings and how far they can actually fly –beyond the expectations. You slow down the pace a bit because it is the most challenging part of the hike, but you are not giving up. “I got this” –says the mind, but doubts a bit. It goes back and forth at this point.
- Kilometer 14: the sign for the lodge suddenly appears like a mirage. “Yes!” You cannot believe it is actually here. But, wait, it is not. There are still some hundred meters left to get there, but by now you are smiling and already celebrating your triumph. “I did it. I did it”. Now you forget all the pain and focus on the accomplishment: “I can do anything. I am awesome!”. Okay, let’s keep going until we actually reach the lodge and officially celebrate with a large meal!
<<We did it!!>>
Now, let’s compare that hike to a new goal you are trying to reach in your life: how similar are your thoughts patterns as you get started, move forward, get closer to the goal?
Every physical challenge is first and foremost a mental challenge. Taking up such a challenge as the majestic Cerro Chirripo allows you to explore not only the intricacies of the path to the top of the mountain, but also to the top of your head. As you go up the mountain, pay attention to your thoughts. They will determine much of your success. Choose thoughts that can support you on the path. Thus, you will successfully conquer the most important top of all: your mind.
How well do you know your mind? Consider the following questions when you set up a new challenge, goal, or change in your life:
- Where does your mind take you when things get difficult?
- How do you respond to such a challenge?
- Do you listen to your body or do you listen to your mind?
Are you ready for the challenge? Ready to visit the Chirripo Mountain in Costa Rica and discover more than the jungle? Get yourself on an adventure to know your mind and yourself!
Contact Blue Osa Travels to help you arrange your trip to Cerro Chirripo and any other adventures in the wonderful Costa Rica: https://blueosatravels.com