What Scaling Mountains Taught Me About Mindfulness

Steph Davis likes to go back again and again to the same climbs. Every time, they’re subtly di erent.

Climbing is a balance between being in the moment, with all the details you’ve got to pay attention to, and looking ahead, guring out what you’re going to do next. It’s a very tactile experience. You’re focused on how the holds feel when you grab them with your ngers, and you’re always looking for footholds—picking which ones to use next and adjusting your body position to reach them.

Climbing can be really slow. There are moments when you’re just holding on. Maybe your arms are really tired, so you’re holding on with one hand while you shake the other one out. At the same time, you’re looking up and thinking, where am I going to go next? A little to the left, a little to the right?

If it’s a climb you haven’t done before, you learn as you go. But if it’s a climb you have done before, it’s di erent. Then it’s more about breathing. You know exactly where you’re going, so you don’t have such a busy mind, worrying about navi- gation. You’re just breathing and moving and noticing your experience: Oh, I don’t feel as tired today as I sometimes do on this climb, or Wow,…

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