I learned to ski in my early 20’s and one of the things my first ski instructor taught me made a lasting impression. It feels as relevant today as it did almost 30 years ago because I see it as being a broader truth and as such, in my mind at least, it links to our ability to live authentically.
It’s fair to say that strapping two long planks to your feet and heading down steep, slippery hills was accompanied by as much fear as exhilaration. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful and the sensation of skiing when feeling relatively under control was one of the best highs I had ever known, but most of the time my mind had a lot to say about the danger I was in. It showed! My lovely ski instructor, with her fabulous French accent, started shouting ‘perpendicular!’ at me. What?
She explained ‘your fear makes you want to cling to the mountainside. I understand that, but you won’t find safety there. It’s just your mind playing tricks on you and trying to hug the slope just keeps you off-balance. You need to let go – your body needs to be perpendicular to the mountain as you go into your turns and when you find the courage to lean out to there, you’ll find your balance. Your skiing will just flow from being in alignment”.
Not only did this indeed prove to be true for my skiing, but I see it as also being a great metaphor for life. Our minds can fill with all sorts of fears that make us cling to wherever we perceive our safety lies, but it’s usually an illusion. The ease and flow we’re looking for comes from being true to ourselves – from living in alignment – from being perpendicular.
I can forget to lean out as much as the next person, but it happens far less often these days and this in turn enables me to help others find their own ways of letting go and getting into flow. Who knew there was so much freedom, fun and even new careers to be had in exploring right angles?
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