I am from a land where there are rolling hills, with valleys and rivers winding their way to the sea.
I have lived in other lands where the scenery is again rolling and vast. Granted there were the odd high points! Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya are very definitely not insignificant in the world of impressive mountains but the land surrounding them continued to ‘roll’.
Mountains are generally features that I gaze upon from a distance and always they stir my heart centre…something opens and I feel a sense of excitement.
From our verandah in Meru, Kenya we could see the snow-capped Mt Kenya when the clouds moved aside. I never did do the trek that many folk enjoy as I always got sick just having a picnic at 11,000ft! The idea of walking up to 17,000ft was for others, like my husband! On my last trip to Basunti the Himalayas revealed themselves in all their glory one sunny evening after our yoga practice which was breathtaking.
On our recent trip to Austria I realised that I have never spent time surrounded by mountains such as these. Everywhere I looked there was a magnificent scene and it led me to thinking how it would be to live permanently amongst these massive mountains. We walked through wooded valleys and round lakes and we climbed slowly up to the top…very slowly as my lungs do not take kindly to such altitudes.
I found them overwhelming to begin with and then as we became familiar with the area I began to ‘know’ where I was and it became more comfortable. I realised I could walk around them, through valleys to gaze upon new ones and even up to the top so as to gaze around and see the panoramic view of the land.
My husband would say that if you give me a mountain I simply have to climb up it to see what’s next! And he is right, wherever we have been I have had that need inside to go further, to see more, to feel how it is to be way ahead upon the next hill. So it is for me in everyday life, always something more to understand, do and learn about.
Those are the high points but in amongst them are the valleys. Then comes the long walk downhill which I do find more challenging physically and mentally. To walk down a steep slope takes balance and the right distribution of weight, otherwise a knee can be twisted or you feel that you may fall. As I climb up I leave everything behind me and move up into unknown territory…there is the sense that as I move higher I open up to the ‘what ifs’ and there is a sense of adventure. Down at the foot of the mountain is the known about part of my life whilst up ahead holds golden opportunities, new beginnings. But, of course we can never really leave behind the bits we don’t like or make us feel fragile..they are all part of who we are.
The real challenge for me then is not getting to the top but finding a way to walk downhill more comfortably so as to keep my balance and leave energy enough so as to enable me to move through the valleys and not get stuck and immobilised by the low points!
Standing on my yoga mat every day helps me to find that balance both inner and outer. After a period of practice, whether it be intense Forrest Yoga or my own mix of Open Yoga I feel energised, calmed and more prepared for the hours to come. Walking downhill and into the valleys then takes on a different meaning…this is normal and really ok. What’s more, on a very physical level, since practising Forrest Yoga my body is stronger than ever and my breath is deeper, so that climbing up those mountains a few weeks ago was fine. I celebrate gently that as I near 60years of age my body does all and more than I expect!!
I am now back in the familiarity of my own land but I rather relish the fact that there will more journeys and more mountains….
This post as well as providing me with a space to ponder the meaning of mountains also gives me the excuse to pop some of our Austrian photographs up. Enjoy!
All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other –
Only the mountain and I.
You ask me why I dwell in the mountains.
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men.