The river of life doesn’t always go our way, and suddenly you hit a rapid. Now what?
You can’t avoid the rapid and struggling will only make the situation worse.
Back in 2009 I was in Namibia; a few of us had decided to go canoeing down the Orange River… it had sounded like a nice relaxing and idyllic way to spend a long weekend. Sleeping out under the star studded sky of the Richtersveld and enjoying a bit of rugged bush living, whilst canoeing down the Orange River.
We were up early on the first morning, had breakfast and packed up anything we needed to keep dry in waterproof barrels and headed down to the embankment to find our canoes and embark on our watery adventure.
Before we left base camp, we were given safety instructions and one of these instructions, which made us chuckle, was if we happened to come out in a rapid, we were to get ourselves into Cocktail and Cigar position… as if you were chilling next to the pool with your feet up, a cocktail in one hand and a cigar in the other. The bottom line was to surrender to the rapid.
I don’t think any of us believed we would find ourselves in this position; but what a life lesson I was paddling into.
The sun was sparkling on the river as we slowly paddled our way down the Orange River on our adventure. Day one, was serenely uneventful.
Day two dawned and we packed up and headed to our canoes with our supplies. A group that had camped further back from us were slowing making their way past us, down the river. We had been given a heads up that we would be heading down our first rapid that morning and that we would be taking the left of where the river splits into three channels. The group that passed us should have been well down the river by the time we reached the split in the river; but we caught up with them, which created congestion… our group trying to back paddle, to stop from being sucked into the fast-moving pace of the rushing water.
My Canoe buddy and I weren’t able to successfully hold the Canoe back and we seemed to shoot forward, hitting a rock which catapulted both of us out of the canoe into the middle estuary.
I panicked and tried to grab hold of the canoe. I realised this was a bad decision. Light Bulb moment. Just relax. Feet up. Cigar and cocktail in either hand.
I also recognised that by struggling or panicking I might break a limb; worse I might die.
Relaxing, I let the rapid to take me where it would.
In the middle of where the three turbulent confluences met, I landed up on a rock, water rushing past me wildly. By this stage, I was fucking scared and seriously clinging to that rock for dear life. (another life lesson here!) In reality… I would need to let go and get back into the river, if I was to reach the safety of land.
One of the guides tried to encourage me to let go and after a few of attempts he decided his only course of action was to paddle up the rapid and rescue me. I still to this day don’t know how he did it and how he manged to get me into his canoe… but being my hero is simply an understatement.
The moral of this story and one I revisit when I am going through a turbulent time, life is much like a river and there are times we drift along and then when we hit a rapid, you just lean back in to cocktail and cigar position and surrender… the time for calmer waters will come again and life will be sweet again, till you hear the next roar of an upcoming rapid and you just lean into surrendering.
And on this trip, the wildest rapid was yet to come! Sjambok (heavy whip) Rapid.
So, whilst there was not much I could do, but physically surrender to being washed down the Orange river in a rapid, there are tools that can help us safely navigate the rough waters of life, until we find ourselves in calmer waters again.
Cacao is a wonderful plant medicine and ally to help us through challenging times, not only because it is filled with nutritional goodness, but because it has mood enhancing compounds that can boost our emotional well-being.
Cacao contains two mood enhancing compounds Anandamide and Tryptophan that can help uplift you when you are feeling blue. Both are natural antidepressants, and the bliss molecule Anandamide is responsible for producing feelings of happiness.
Cacao is also bursting with essential flavonoids, amino acids and over 700 antioxidants that have shown to ease depression and create feelings of wellbeing and happiness. It has also shown to improve heart and brain health, blood sugar and weight control.
Today’s ritual is to start a mood diary. The aim of this is to become aware of when our stress and anxiety is triggered and to record our emotional and mental well-being daily.
During the day we experience a lot of thoughts and feelings and often we forget all the positive emotions we felt throughout the day. Keeping a mood diary helps us to us to understand ourselves better. When we tune into ourselves, we can become more aware of our state of mind.
To honour where I am at.
What am I Grateful for today?
For stillness and making the time to connect with myself.
One thing today that made me feel ‘I Love my life’:
Laughter. My team meeting this morning was filled with happy banter.
How did I follow my intuition today (with what results?)
I let my happy morning vibes carry me through the day and on my evening walk I discovered a community garden I didn’t know existed and I spent time connecting with the bees.
What Physical Changes are taking place?
I have noticed that my eyes are a lot brighter, and I am feeling more energised.
I felt quite cheeky and full of life this morning and then I felt lazy and snoozy towards the end of the day.
Daily check in questions:
What difference did this Challenge Make to my day?
By making time for sacred time, I am finding that I much happier and my cheeky side is starting to blossom.
How is this challenge helping me achieve my goals?
By becoming more playful, I am becoming more creative and relaxed.
How is this challenge impacting my relationships with nature, myself and other relationships?
By connecting into my true nature, I am finding more joy in my day-to-day activities and I am connecting in more with what my passions are.
Wise and Untamed
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