“The obstacle is the path” Zen proverb
I was in Vancouver last week for the Lululemon Ambassador Summit. 150 yoga, cross fit, run and sport experts from across North America converged for 3 days of visioning, goal setting and declarations of success. Inspiring!
Part of our week’s adventures was an optional city experience. We had a choice between paddle boarding, free time or a climb up Grouse Mountain. I chose the climb. Yogis and mountains have an ancient legacy. The last words I remember from a Vancouver local “its kinda like doing a few hours on the stair master. It’s called the Grind for a reason.” I was undaunted.
We started the climb around 1:17pm PST. The day was sunny and breezy, a perfect start. We went up in groups on four – pledging to be with each other until the end. The sprinters went first. We went up last. I started the climb with an intention to hear the truth. “Mountain, please reveal to me what I need to know. Show me the truth in a way that I can understand.”
1:55pm we reach the ¼ mark. I wanted to cry. I was ready to turn around when a voice called out,
“ Salimah, keep going!” it was my new friend Heather, pilates star from Ottawa. And it was exactly what I needed to keep going. I was stripped down to my virtual loin cloth on that climb. Only my ugly thoughts were protecting me, or rather my ego. “I’m too old for this”, and an elderly lady with a cane glided by me. “I’m not strong enough” and a man carrying his infant daughter huffed past me. Over and over again the mountain gave me no permission to let go, or back down. I had only one choice. To ascend.
2:39pm the half way mark. A team of high school hockey players blow past me – yelling and swearing at each other. I’m swearing too. I’m nauseous and cramping, thirsty and turning a little nasty. The Mountain chooses this moment for the first reveal. “Back to veg”. Really? Ok. That one was simple enough. After my mum passed away July 2010, the first thing I did was eat a steak. And now it was time to go back to the roots – so to speak.
The Grind twists and turns up the Mountain and starts to resemble a corkscrew. Every once in a while I catch sight of the other Ambassadors – my hands and face are dirty. I’m drenched and stinky and glad to be alone for this part of the journey. The path gets steeper. I forget my mantras, I forget my name and I only remember my breath.
3:42pm ¾ mark.
And then I hit my wall. My legs cramped. I am parched and doubled over. And in that moment the Mountain says “Focus on love. Be the best love you can possibly be. Demand the best and be the best.” It echoed all through the trees – I looked around and found myself alone for the first time on the path. I was my own witness. The truth sets in. It’s time to be One with this truth. And I am grateful for the remaining steps and the decision to be present to this information. And in those moments I recommitted to my practice, to letting go of old habits that don’t serve what is highest and best.
“Salimah – you are almost at the top”. Its Heather. And I laugh out loud. I straighten up, inhale the lesson and exhale the commitment. And I keep walking. The summit awaits.