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May 10, 2011

Adventure Travel – Effective Relaxation and Increased Self Awareness

by Chris Werren

Adventure Travel – Effective Relaxation and Increased Self Awareness

The pressure put on us by our jobs and our personal environment has been constantly increasing over the past few years. More and more we have become prisoners of our daily routines. Relationship turbulences, fears of losing the job, increased traffic, financial worries and existential fears or health issues are some of the main reasons that impact and complicate our being. Often we feel as if we were trapped in a vicious circle that can’t be left, in a stage that is considerably compromising our physical and mental wellbeing.

The main question therefore is what we can do to leave all our daily stress factors behind and escape from the everyday routines. We must search for simple methods that assist us in leaving our familiar environment and which provide us with opportunities for inspiring and exceptional challenges, for intensive moments of regeneration and for occasions to enjoy relaxing periods of happiness and togetherness.

The participation in an adventure trip for example is such a powerful and effective method to achieve a new level of physical and mental wellbeing. It is a decision to do something exceptional; it is an escape from the known surroundings and a courageous move to leave long established comfort zones!

Escaping Everyday Life and Stepping Back

When you book your flights and during the last minute vacation preparations you won’t yet feel any effects of your participation in an adventure trip. However, already on the way to the airport and as soon as you sit in the plane the pressure you have been feeling for months will be replaced by a comfortable feeling of calmness. You start breathing deeper, you become more relaxed and your everyday worries start to disappear. The first step towards an intensive and effective regeneration process has finally been made.

Getting Inspired and Discovering New Insights

The participation in an adventure trip results in a permanent encounter with new and unfamiliar or unknown situation. We are confronted with numerous opportunities that help us to see our life and the daily problems at home from another perspective. Suddenly many things which have been bothering us lose their importance and we begin to appreciate things that up to now we took for granted. New forms of living and the untouched nature in the remote wilderness provide us with inspirational hints and form the perfect setting to build up the necessary energies that allow us to reflect on how we can finally turn our secret wishes and dreams into reality.

Strengthening Physical and Mental Fitness

Adventures trips always lead to an improved personal performance. Body and mind are permanently engaged and usually we are also confronted with situations which force us to leave our comfort zones. Be it by taking part in a trekking expedition through remote and uninhabited regions, by enjoying powder runs in exotic ski areas or by joining mountain bike safaris on high altitudes – the full engagement of each and everyone is needed.

While we may have certain difficulties to get physically engaged and to train or to leave our living quarters when we are in our home zone we suddenly welcome the challenges of the terrain or the chosen routes and consider each small achievement as an inspiring personal success. At the end of an adventure trip everyone has certainly improved his physical fitness and has become mentally and emotionally more resistant. We are now well prepared to face our everyday challenges in a much more efficient manner.

Finding “One’s Own Center”

Many consider comments or suggestions on finding “one’s own center” as abstract theories from the yoga world or from esoteric circles. For me, however, to be in “my own center” is a state of mind in which everything is perfect – where I am happy and in harmony with myself and the rest of the world. It is a feeling that we sense when we have achieved something exceptional by being fully engaged – by proving our physical strength, by using our ability for mental concentration and by feeling emotionally fully committed to the challenge at hand.

Adventure trips create a splendid environment to experience this feeling of being in “one’s own center. Ski trips to Kashmir or trekking expeditions to remote areas in Nepal are perfect examples of ideal adventure activities – the “spiritual” ambiance felt in the Himalayas provides the icing on the cake.

Making New Friends and Strengthening Existing Relationships 

By participating in an adventure trip you can experience many intensive moments together in small groups of friends or of people with common interests. You are confronted with situations in unfamiliar environments that are mentally and physically challenging while you are far away from the “institutionalized” disturbing factors at home and outside of your familiar comfort zones. On an adventure trip you will therefore sooner or later get to know yourself as you really are and also be perceived by others as your true self – you will enjoy a group spirit which results in lasting friendships.

Enjoying Small Pleasures

Instead of exclusively relying on medical advice and therapies your decision to participate in an adventure trip is an important and self conscious step towards improving your physical and mental well being. You are participating in activities that give you pleasure and which provide you with a sense of self achievement, you allow yourself to take part in something exceptional and reward yourself with lasting memories of the visited area. You feel good without feelings of guilt or without having to search for excuses. Instead of dreaming about a potential sabbatical you are taking a temporary leave which will make you immediately feel better!

Strengthening Self-Esteem

Neither in our job nor in our private life has everything gone according to plan. Sometimes we find explanations for it but often we also have doubts about our own capabilities or our behavior. In addition there always a number of well intentioned people who are eager to “help” us getting a better understanding of our miserable situation and many suggest the best way to feel better would be to adapt ourselves to the realities of life instead of trying to realize our dreams or to meet high expectations! All this advice is counterproductive and is definitely not contributing to help us in the realization of our visions or to motivate us to make full use of our talents.

With the participation in adventure trips we have many opportunities to prove our capabilities and to make use of our untapped talents. We can for example demonstrate our language skills, we have an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with new cultures, and we have a chance to affront unknown challenges and situations and to learn to move self-consciously in difficult terrain and to enjoy living in the wilderness even in poor weather conditions. At the end of each adventure trip all participants are proud of their individual and group achievements, all are aware of what they are capable of and they won’t easily get lost in self doubt or be destabilized by negative influences.

Leaving the “Comfort Zones”

Often the biggest obstacles in the realization of our visions are lack of energy or an unwillingness to leave our established comfort zones! For many people the initiative to change stops already when they have to stress their physical strength more than usual and if they would have to engage and expose themselves emotionally more than they are used to or if they have to mentally focus more on new tasks and themes. Instead of dreaming about new chances and opportunities they prefer to contemplate on difficulties and obstacles, instead of developing a healthy willingness for a stronger personal engagement they prefer to join the large “community of eternal unhappiness”.

With the participation in an adventure trip we consciously decide to take an important step – the step to finally challenge ourselves again and to demonstrate that we are capable to make more of our life than to preserve the status quo. We are ready to affront new and unknown situations, to break out of the comfort of our daily routines and to challenge our physical and mental performance limits.  By spending nights in tents on freezing cold nights with snowfall, crossing wild rivers and climbing high passes across steep boulder terrain or engaging in back country skiing in deep powder snow at altitudes above 4’000m and at extreme temperatures we demonstrate that we are still capable of leaving our comfort zones and that we are strong enough to master difficult challenges self consciously and successfully. At the end of an adventure trip we feel strong and prepared to eliminate all bothering disturbances from our life, and we are finally ready to turn our plans and unfulfilled dreams into reality!

Quitting Established Thought Patterns

Changing our own thought patterns is generally a big challenge and doesn’t happen automatically. First we have to create the right environment that allows us to let go and to get rid of old paradigms. We need surroundings that inspire, quiet periods where we can contemplate without disturbances, situations that show us how others perceive us and opportunities which force us to demonstrate our natural behavior. For each problem and each behavior there are different truths. How I interpret these and how I think about them is my own decision! However, changes in our thought patterns about our personal and professional life can only be realized if we replace “old” thought patterns with new ones; to do this we must take the time to create the needed free space!

By participating in an adventure trip we use an existing platform. We begin walking on new paths, we get familiar with new cultures and languages, we live under very simple conditions and eat simple meals, we create an environment that is helping us to break away from “old” thought patterns and that assists us in the definition of a new “truth” for our personal and professional life.

A Chance to Relax and Enjoy

The best part of an adventure trip is the opportunity to enjoy ourselves and to relax. Beautiful landscapes, impressive mountains, exceptional powder runs on untracked terrain and through impressive forests, encounters with local people and new cultures, visits to historical and spiritual monuments and undisturbed moments for reflection and for inspiring gatherings with fellow travelers – all these result in special moments for enjoyment and for happiness.

Adventure trips therefore provide an excellent platform to improve our personal wellbeing and are an ideal playing field for a long lasting physical and mental regeneration.

I am of course aware that the above described benefits for the strengthening of our personal performance and the rebuilding of our mental balance can be questioned. However, sometimes it may be better to follow up on simple recommendations than thinking about or attempting to pursue long term therapies. In any case there is no harm to start contemplating about participating in an adventure trip and to experience its benefits yourself!

About the author: Chris Werren is an organizer and guide of adventure ski trips and wilderness expeditions to various parts of the world  

For more information: Free Ski Himalaya

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