“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.”
― Anthon St. Maarten, Divine Living: The Essential Guide to Your True Destiny
Every time I sit down I am reminded of the choice I made to jump from a 40 foot high waterfall cliff into a 30 foot deep natural pool. Crossing the threshold of fear into trust can be both a terrifying and exhilarating process. I found myself at the precipice of the gushing waterfall that poured over the rocky edge with an inner outpouring of emotions that felt nearly crippling. Here I am, in Monte Zuma, Costa Rica with 2 friends and my wonderful boyfriend in paradise and all I can think about is jumping off of this cliff. I watch them go before Me. First my buddy leap frog jumps at the highest point of the cliff, and lands perfectly 40 feet below into what seems like a very forgiving nest of water, he sinks below the surface and then promptly comes back up with a smile on his face and beckons with both hands to follow his lead.
“Come on!,” He says.
“Ok!” Here I go. I walk to the edge right next to the place he jumped, there is no bush of branches and leaves on this side, but it is nearly just as high, maybe a 5 foot difference. With bare feet, a bikini, and a smile I look down and suddenly I smile no more. There is a visible piece of the cliff that comes out a couple of feet down from where I am standing. I am told that I have to tuck my arms straight along side my body and straighten my legs, point my toes, and land feet down to be safe. Thoughts come into my head of horrid outcomes, my foot slipping as I jump, a limb snapping on the side of that rocky ledge, landing incorrectly in the water which could apparently dislocate shoulders or hips.
“What if I hit this edge?,” I shout down.
“You would have to try really hard to do so,” He responds with a devilish grin.
I hear his words, and all of a sudden I realize I don’t trust it. I don’t have the nerve. My heart starts to race now every time I get close to the edge, my parasympathetic nervous system goes crazy. My mind WANTS to jump, I really WANT to jump, but my body will not let me. My legs begin to lock up, and then I start to shake. I better back off for now, so I walk back a bit and sit in the middle where it is safe, feeling utterly defeated. I thought I could do anything within reason. These past 5 years have been all about letting go and trusting the process. I trust that when I follow my dreams, God, the Universe, will absolutely provide, and I have been proven right again and again. I trust with all of my Being that when I TRUST the process, even though my path is a bit off of the beaten one, I am totally TAKEN CARE OF! However, standing on the edge of that cliff, I was humbled. Once again I had to trust my life to this new experience. Whatever I chose, I had to trust that it was ok. Looking back on the experience now, I realized if I were to jump OR not, I would have made the correct choice because of what I did before hand. I prayed, meditated, and paused. I left that day not jumping. I briefly made peace with that, but I had sheer determination to jump the following day, to show with my physical body that I Trust the Universe. I wanted to literally live by my mantra, “Jump and the net will appear.” It is funny how the mind will teeter back and forth sometimes when the ego is challenged.
Here I am again, after the strenuous hike up the side of the mountain, I am at the top of the waterfall. I’d like to give you more of a visual of what is around me. This is one of 3 water falls. The upper most is little, the second is medium, and the third one is deadly. All of the aforementioned action takes place at the medium fall. The back packers would jump from the base of the 1st to the second and most of the time they made it. The day before I heard rumors of 2 people dying from this cliff jump over the past 20 years. Not bad odds. However, I find out on this day that 10 more have died from jumping the base of the 1st to the 2nd waterfall pool and even though I normally would have taken this as a sign, I see several boys jump from this point before me for hours. Not many of them jump a second time, but they all land safely. Now my ego gets involved again. If they can do it, so can I. Thoughts start invading my head like, “You will regret this for the rest of your life if you don’t jump.” “You got this!” “You could die!” Suddenly I am reminded of another mantra I learned from my ashram, “God is with me, I am not afraid,” and another one, “Courage.” Everyone around me is saying, “JUST DO IT, DON’T THINK ABOUT IT!” When I thought about it, I would not do it, so I started to repeat my mantras. I walked to the edge. My boyfriend didn’t believe me when I said I was going to do it. Even though he did it the day before, he was to afraid to do it again. (He later tells me that he had a bad feeling about me jumping the previous day…) Again, all of these signs, big and small. Earlier in the day a wise voice admonished, “No, Alana, don’t do it. I have lived here 20 years, and I have not jumped, nor do I want to.” This was the owner of Los Mangos, the resort we were currently staying at. All of these signs seemed trivial in that moment. I said, whatever happens, “Pura Vida” which is a local saying in Costa Rica which translates to “Pure Life.” Here is to living pure life.
I step off, with a small jump, and before I know it I plunge into the water… Then in rapid succession the following happens: My tail bone feels a sharp pain exploding upwards. Next, my back slams into the wall of water causing my sternum to bruise on the inside of my chest and leaving me unceremoniously winded. I can barely breathe. I can barely paddle. I am frozen beneath the surface somewhat helplessly as my survival instinct kicks in and I begin to paddle with one lifeless arm to the surface. One hand is on my chest and the other one is navigating through the water. I am terrified. What have I done? I reach the surface in so much pain, I scream to the top, “I am hurt!!!” I couldn’t believe it. I had seen so many jump before me. One was a drunk guy who did a triple gainer and landed with seemingly no problem. My boyfriend, who courageously leaped after an hour of fighting with himself and had nothing but exciting stories to tell after the fact. My friend who had done it at least 10 times between the 2 days with a cool smile and the grace of a professional high diver. All of these success stories and yet I got hurt.
My boyfriend rushes down the side of the cliff to my aid. I catch my breath and realize I did not hit anything solid except the water, which from that height feels like concrete. I thought that I would be free falling for a bit with enough time to adjust into the straight pike that I needed to land safely. According to everyone else I looked great going down. I bet I did. My first hand experience was quite different. I felt no free fall. There was no pause that I could sense between the jump and the water crash. I straightened as best as I could, but I believe the mix of the expectations I had of how I thought it was going to go and my utter surprise of how it actually did made for bad form. Now try to picture this in slow motion. I slightly bent my knees and rolled back a little, landing directly on the tail bone which delivered a fierce blow to my spine. Then I was thrust back from the impact landing second on the middle of my back compressing my chest and lungs, creating pain in my chest and loss of air. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to swim up to the surface because I could barely move. Luckily, I did.
Had I have listened to that calm voice that said, “Not today, not tomorrow, maybe never, this may not be in your story,” I would have avoided this crash landing. I was more relieved that I was alive. Nothing was broken. I would endure pain every time I sat down or did anything to cause irritation to my sternum. Hiccups made me cry. Yoga was a nightmare in some positions. Still, I had to find the positive so that I could go on. I DID IT! Would I do it again? Probably not. If I ever did it again, I would want to feel much more confident going into it. What does Yoga teach me? Acceptance, non-judgment, and listen… listen… listen….to your body, mind, and heart. I am actually not sure what would have been worse… the pain from my crash landing, or the pain my mind would have thrust upon me for not doing it. I am no longer beating myself up for not doing it, but my body is beaten up from doing it. Either way I get the experience of growth through pain… Haha, go figure.
When a challenge arises, we have an opportunity to MAKE CHOICES. All choices have consequences that are good and bad. That day I chose to not live in fear. What I realized was that a healthy dose of fear is meant to prompt a healthy dose of judgment. When I see a car coming, I do not step in front of it because I know I will get hit. This was a completely NEW experience, one that was unique to me. I painted the outcome through my thoughts, decisions, mind, and body. Had I of been more confident or less timid perhaps I would have landed better. Had I avoided it all together, I would have been safe physically, but my mind would have run rough-shot with me for who knows how long. If I would have landed perfectly, I would have written a different blog post. I landed imperfectly, and had a different experience, now I am sharing this with you, and that is perfect within itself.
Trust has become a way of living for me. I have jumped off of many metaphorical cliffs in these past few years with nothing but sheer determination and success. This cliff was no different. All jumps require confidence, intuition, physical awareness, proper timing, and faith. Even though the Path may not be what was expected, perhaps a bit bumpy and painful at times, we will always learn soul lessons if we require the patience and awareness to listen to them.
Everyone’s journey is different. We all have choices. Paint your destiny. Follow your heart. It is not without hurdles, but the experiences will expand your horizons always. It is all a learning process that brings forth growth.
Thank you for exploring my “Explorations of Self,” with Me!
As always with love,
E-RYT, CYT, Wellness Supporter & Freelance Writer