Faith Like Rock Climbing (Spiritual Path Disclaimer—Start Here)
Let me preface this post by saying I’m not a rock-climber. When I first started my awakening process, I realized that I let fear and limitations shape my reality. In order to combat this tendency and break out of my notion of what was possible for me I started to think about things I would like to do if I didn’t believe they were impossible for someone like me.
I thought about things I’d wanted to do as a kid and one of the things that came up was rock climbing—it wasn’t even the idea of actual rock climbing, but indoor climbing. I was scared to leave the house and be in a space with other people, doing an activity that required physical strength and discomfort that I was not good at but it was something I really wanted to do.
For Christmas that year my mom bought me a trial for an indoor bouldering gym and I decided to practice courage and go to that gym. I went to the gym 2-4 times a week for a little over a year. I was never good at bouldering, but I developed strength and learned a lot—not just about rock climbing but about different ways of understanding fear and comfort. I also became aware of many parallels between rock climbing and the spiritual awakening.
As I was working on this site I was thinking about how to organize information and I felt like I wanted to put a cautionary or disclaimer post. The basis of the disclaimer is that belief systems are powerful. What we believe in and the sources of information we trust have a profound impact on how we think, act (or re-act), and the shape of our life experience. If you are on this site, engaging in the material then you are looking for ways to re-envision your life experience through the change of perspective and awareness of different levels of reality. If you fully engage with this type of material there will be consequences—some small and some profound. Over time the changes you make will increase and those consequences will spread to every area of your life. This is powerful and if change is what you are looking for you are in the right place; but be aware that power is consequential and even extremely positive change invites disruption. For this reason, I propose using the metaphor of rock climbing as guide for navigating your plunge into different perspectives with balanced enthusiasm and caution.
Here are some comparisons to keep in mind:
1. Rock climbing and spiritual growth are both pathways to empowerment. Rock climbing builds physical strength and flexibility. It forces you to overcome fears and use concentration and strategy to find your way over barriers. Spiritual growth builds emotional strength and flexibility. It also encourages you to overcome fears and use focus and understanding to overcome barriers.
2. Rock climbing and spiritual growth take consistent practice. You aren’t going to scale a level 8 wall on your first or second time at a gym. Even if you are incredibly strong the technique, flexibility, and specific muscle strength take time to develop. Similarly applying some of the practices and perspectives that will be explored here only once or attempting practices that require a lot of understanding without the underlying understanding will not likely result in much positive change. To grow into the kind of person who has the ability to scale high walls on difficult terrain and overcome obstacles that have been holding you back for years takes consistent practice over time. Eventually even seemingly impossible obstacles can be overcome, but you have to put consistent work in to build up to the level of whatever wall you are trying to scale.
3. There is a level of risk inherent in the climb—but you have control over how much risk you are willing to take. If you try to climb a wall you might get hurt—either because of a fall or because of straining yourself during the climb. In spiritual practices changes are often associated symbolically with death. Change implies the ending of something and start of something else. The ending part can be painful and there are times when unexpected reactions arise both within and around you as you put new practices into place. This is risky. However, when you rock climb you decide which wall you want to climb, how high up you feel safe going, and how far you want to stretch to get to the next level. The same is true for spiritual growth. Making huge strides and changes to reach higher levels of awareness and empowerment is exciting but also comes with greater risk since it implies greater amounts of change in a shorter period of time. Climbing to the top of the highest wall is exciting but it is also the biggest risk. Rock climbing gyms have signs that caution you to not climb higher than you are comfortable falling, I would highly recommend a similar sentiment in your path to spiritual growth and personal empowerment—be inspired to climb high but don’t go higher or faster than you are comfortable falling. If you really want to get to the top of a wall then you will by consistently showing up and building the strength and skill to mitigate risk—similarly if you really want to create major changes in your life then persistent effort in that direction will eventually lead you there as you become able to skillfully navigate terrain. There is no need to rush into a potentially dangerous or unnecessarily painful situation out of impatience.
4. You don’t have to accept every challenge or perspective presented to you. When you are climbing you decide which walls or peaks to climb. Maybe you want to experience reaching that really high, difficult stretch or maybe that lower wall with easy grips seems more your style. These different walls and peaks can represent different perspectives that are near to or far beyond your comfort-zone. Maybe there are some ideologies that seem really “out-there” but you really want to learn about and apply to your life-- maybe you want to see the world from multiple dimensions, learn how to shift realities, contact spirit guides or extra-terrestrials, or navigate through various planes of existence—or maybe you aren’t interested in any of that-- you just want a few tangible, mostly-widely accepted techniques that push you a little outside your norm but don’t take you too far from the reality you are currently comfortable in. Either way is fine-- it’s your life, you decide which walls you want to eventually climb. If you just want to learn some basic practices like mediation and using techniques related to cognition or emotional acceptance to feel healthier and more confident—then go for it. If you want to learn the ins and outs of energy practices and healing or gain insights related to other dimensions, then aim for that. If you are like me, you might start off with the more concrete applications of things for general well being but eventually start to look deeper into the ideologies that restructure your entire relationship with the concept of reality. In the end it’s up to you to decide which walls you want to climb and how much you are willing to put into reaching those peaks. It is also completely fine if you start off with one goal in mind and then change your mind at different points in time. There is no set way that you have to do things, you choose what you want to get out of being here.
5. It is really unwise to start off with no safety precautions. Rock climbing gyms have padded floors and the higher walls require harnesses. They also have experienced climbers around to help you learn how to use equipment, make sure the harnesses are secure, and get you safely out of situations where you may have pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. They also make you watch safety videos that go over the basics of falling correctly. Spiritual practices—especially those that are equivalent to scaling really high walls—should be pursued with similar cautions whenever possible. Climbing eagerly up a perspective that you have no experience with and then having an experience that completely crushes your faith not only in that perspective but in yourself, the people around you, and whatever source of authority you have given your trust to is equivalent to climbing a wall without a crash pad or harness and falling off. It is not only extremely painful it can have devastating life-long consequences. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t climb high walls, but do so with as many safety precautions as possible and at a pace that you can safely maintain. Are you willing to have your entire view of the world and all your confidence in yourself and humanity crushed? Do you know how you would recover if you moved towards something based on one perspective and met with an unexpected result? If you don’t know how to handle or recover from these situations, then don’t put yourself into them. This is especially true if you are just starting this process.
As you learn and grow you will likely feel an inner desire to take more risks in order to pursue greater levels of expansion. In fact, a big part of the growing process is learning to understand and move through fears. There are times to take progressively bigger leaps of faith, but that doesn’t mean that you should recklessly jump when you don’t need to or aren’t prepared. It is also wise to ask for help and support either from peers and mentors on the physical plain or higher powers in the spiritual dimension, especially when you are about to apply a new technique with the potential for massive change.
I’m going to pull back a little now.
The point of this post is not to scare you or discourage you at all. Personal growth, empowerment, and spiritual development are things that humanity desperately needs. Taking steps to develop these tools and ideas in your own life is massively important—not only for your own overall wellbeing but for the planet as a whole. As we take active part in our own growth and beliefs, we encourage others to do the same. As we move beyond fear and entrapment, we show others how to open their own doors to freedom. As we create new pathways and ideologies we grow these creations in the collective consciousness. This is a beautiful, exciting pathway to pursue, but being aware of the risks as well as the rewards and using the tools, and experiences of others on this pathway can reduce the chance of long term and unnecessary pain along the way. Some pain and discomfort is unavoidable (just as working out tends to bring a level of soreness especially at first), but long term injuries and devastation are not necessary.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, look for resources, think critically, and move at your own pace. You are not required to jump off a cliff to prove your faith or suddenly uproot every foundation in your life to create a new start—in fact I would highly discourage actions related to either of those idea. Take your time and move with joy and ease, this pathway is not a race or competition—it is a change in the course of your life that requires small re-adjustments to build up over a long period of time. Enjoy where you are, enjoy the process of growth, and take things one step at a time.
Remember that you have help, support, and the ability to live the life you dream about. Don’t give up, but don’t rush.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions, remember you are not on this path alone.