I found myself mooching round the George Fisher shop in Keswick, looking for inspiration for this piece. What struck me was the incredible diversity of niches that are catered for; every possible outdoor/mountain activity is covered in some way. So I set myself the challenge of somehow unifying all these separate areas under the George Fisher hashtag of #getinspiredgetoutside. Regardless of our particular interests, what do we all take from being in the outdoors?
George Fisher #GetInspiredGetOutside
We can divide our waking time into three distinct categories. We have to spend a certain amount of our time looking back and reflecting on what has taken place, to progress, we must look forward and plan and, finally, we spend time concentrating on what we are doing at that moment. All three elements are vital to a successful life and must be undertaken. Unfortunately, when we reflect, we often focus on events that have gone wrong in the past and the repercussions this caused. This leads to stress, anxiety and worry. When we look forward, it is all too often at the situations that will, again, cause anxiety. To put an ultra-running slant on this, I might look back to an earlier point in the race when I didn’t take on enough calories (for whatever reason) and I’m now stressing about what this will mean to my performance. I might be focussing on a tough part of the course that lies ahead, causing anxiety. What I am failing to do, is focus on living in the moment; thinking about what I am doing at this time, not the past, not the future, but now. I would argue that we all spend too much of our time worrying about the past or the future instead of concentrating on what we are doing now.
Life happens in the present but we spend too much of our time away from the present. You are at work dreaming about being out on the hills, but when you are out on the hills, you are worrying about what you have to do at work.
Children are generally better at living in the moment than us adults. I asked my nephew and niece, Sam and Tilly, to jump for me. I’m not a mind reader, but I’m fairly confident that at this moment, they are not worrying about what happened at school the day before, they are not stressing about the piece of homework they have to do that evening, they are just thinking about the enjoyment of jumping and landing safely; that is all that matters – they are living in the moment.
As I walked around the shop, it struck me that on every shelf, on every hanger and in every display case is an opportunity to spend some time living in the moment. As you reach for that small finger hold when climbing you are thinking about nothing else. As your skis cut into the snow as you make a turn, your mind and body are focussed on that alone. You crest the top of a mountain and see that amazing view, you take in all the splendour of that vista. Running along a technical track, your mind is fully engaged in the process of not falling over. I could go on; you get the idea.
Francesca Lee - George Fisher Ski Ambassador
What this does is takes our mind off those other life situations that cause us stress and anxiety; all that matters is this moment. As an adult, it tends to be worry about past and future events that cause problems, rarely does the current task lead to that chronic psychological and emotional stress that leaves us drained and burnt out. We become absorbed in the current event and switch our mind off from negative distractions.
Morven Walsh - George Fisher Run Ambassador
This level of concentration has further benefits. As we channel our focus onto the task, we can approach Peak Flow; a situation where we experience optimum performance and maximum enjoyment. Others describe this as being “in the zone”; a feeling where only that instant matters. That perfect ski run which seemed effortless, running as if you have unlimited endurance, climbing as if floating up the rock face, hiking up a steep, rough track to crest the top and being able to feel the fresh air filling your lungs. When we are in the zone, along with high levels of concentration, we also make good, quick decisions, are actions are smooth and controlled, we feel relaxed and confident and have a greater aesthetic appreciation of our surroundings.
It is relatively easy to live in the moment; concentrate on your breathing, focus on your foot or hand placement, think about your body angle, listen to the sound of the river, anything that brings your attention specifically to that moment in time. What is more difficult is to maintain that magical moment. I’ve tried counting my footsteps while trail running and struggle to keep the focus long enough to get past 200 steps. However, for that short instant, the past and future of my life does not exist, I have no worries, I have no stress, I have no anxiety, I am living in the moment.
The outdoors is crammed full of opportunities to live in the moment; go and grab one.