Just as I went to make the turn on the red skiing slope I completely froze and stopped halfway down, my mind simply did not want me to continue and to say I felt frightened was an understatement.
This was just my fourth day of skiing in the wonderful ski resort of Avoriaz, previously I had not been skiing for 20 years. The last time I was on the snow was 2 years ago, trying to learn snowboarding, which went well until I broke a rib. Now here I was again this time determined to get my ski legs back after deciding that snowboarding was not for me. The first three days were amazing, the instructors pushed and pushed me and I was soon coming down runs which I would never have dreamt about doing on my first week back on a pair of skis.
Then I had a fall.
I had got a bit cocky really and was going way too fast as I turned and picked up some bad habits without my instructor being there. The fall was inevitable and I was lucky to not be hurt, thinking nothing of it, I continued down the slope taking more care when turning.
As I went down the next red slope something seemed wrong as I was turning, I felt myself slowing down too much, remembering my instructors drilling into my head “speed is your friend” if done properly and I felt a pang of fear in my gut too. As I looked down at how steep this slope was I was slowing down way too much and then I stopped and just froze thinking “how the hell am I going to get down here?” My mind was now using the fall as reference for danger and was trying to stop me falling again by stopping me in my tracks. This is part of the freeze, flight or fight part of the primal brain survival reaction.
Now was the time to use my own techniques to make sure I finished going down the slope.
First of all I noted I was holding my breath too much which resulted in my primal brain having too much influence over my rational brain. By breathing down to my abdomen I can instantly begin to lower blood pressure, heart rate and make sure my rational brain has more influence and control.
Secondly, by moving my fingers and toes in a slow rhythmic motion from left part of body to the right I can soothe my primal brain, which is reacting in fear and gain more control.
Thirdly I let my anxious fearful thoughts of getting hurt, crashing and making a fool out of myself be there in my mind instead of trying not to think out about them. By accepting them they begin to lose power and my mind can then switch to more productive thoughts.
Lastly, I switch my attention from thoughts to the present moment. This liberates me from my fearful thoughts and feelings and it’s in that moment I begin to move down the slope using the techniques I was taught and I reach the bottom safely and exhilarated that I accomplished another difficult run.
These techniques are part of what I teach to overcome the natural limitations placed on us by our minds. For me life is way too short to be held back like that and I can’t wait to get back on the slopes next year and take my skills to another level. I know my mind will try and hold me back but that’s ok, I have every confidence in my techniques to set me free from that so I don’t fear feeling anxious, I just accept it’s a possibility and I can work with it if it does happen.