What a year. First the devastation of the bushfires and now the global pandemic that has increased uncertainty over the economy, employment, finances, relationships, and of course our physical and mental health.
Life is uncertain. I know this all too well. It is something that I was deeply liberated from six years ago when I separated from my husband. A time in my life that projected me into seeking out alternative ways of living or surviving after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
What I know now is that I was going through a massive spiritual transformation. It felt like death. The death of ‘the idea of myself’ but I now look back on it as the greatest year of my life. This was the precursor to the life of my true self. New beginnings, an expanding of consciousness where I understood that my inner world reflected my outer world. I started to investigate and experiment on my mind and body.
During this period of my life along came the Wim Hof Method, a modality of breathwork and extreme cold practice. A way of creating calmness and peace within, while staying alert and strong with undeniable presence and little fear. Or simply put, a reconnection to the earth, to myself, to nature.
Back to “the current situation”. I see that society’s real problem is fear. The virus reveals the fear that we as human’s already have, in particular fear of death, of loss. For some it’s a death of persona, a death of identity, a death of
their beliefs and aspirations.
The excuse of the virus or the evidence of a hard life is there for all of us, but perhaps the life you’re looking to access is on the other side of these deep unconscious patterns of insecurity? On the other side of your sense identity born out of an era with the highest living standards, wealth and ‘comfort’ in the history of mankind.
We are only as mentally tough as life demands us to be, so when we gear our lives toward comfort, our mental toughness, our resilience, takes a hit.
I am no stranger to this myself. I was forced into quarantine after having to cut my USA and Europe work trip short. Although no stranger to loneliness, after a swim in the icy river I had to ask myself “what is this virus trying to teach me?”
During these times, and during those moments when what is happening around the globe get heavy, my saving grace has been that I call the incredible Snowy Mountains region home, especially during winter. There is nowhere else in Australia quite like it.
Having the beautiful backcountry on my doorstep and being able to pack a bag, put on a pair of snowshoes and hike to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko is a blessing.
But my first love (and my second home) will always be the icy waters of the Thredbo River. During winter you will often find me, ice axe in hand, enjoying my cold exposure ritual. It is my voluntarily exploration of surrender and discomfort. Anxiety, stress, depression and fear are washed away in that fast flowing water. Spending time in nature in this way – neck deep in near-freezing water – is my remedy to the malady of comfort. It makes me feel more connected to the world around me, more anchored in the present moment, and less swayed by uncertainty. I exit the water feeling extremely focused and clear, without fear and with the desire to bottle this feeling and give it to the world!
It is why I am passionate about sharing the benefits of practicing the cold exposure techniques of the Wim Hof Method in nature. Stepping out of our comfort zone in this way, allows us to become more aware of how our bodies and minds respond to stress. With awareness comes the ability to influence. By changing our stress response to the cold, by making it familiar, by building up our resilience to it, we are able to change how we respond to stress in other areas of our lives. The neural pathways we establish in the ice water teach us a process that can be applied to other parts of our life. That’s a beautiful and powerful lesson. One that is made even more special by being able to teach it to others, right here in my backyard.
Over the course of three days, using the tools of breathwork and cold exposure and the spectacular backdrop of the Snowy Mountains, I take people deep into nature and deep within themselves. My aim is getting people to see beyond their perceived physical and mental limitations.
From hiking in shorts and a t-shirt among the snow-covered gums, to swimming in the icy waters of the Thredbo River, these weekends are all about reconnecting people with nature and passing on tools to help people take back control of their lives and rediscover their inner wild thing!
2020 is a gift. An opportunity to increase our level of awareness of our health to re-evaluate our choices to get the most out of our short time on this planet.
What we hold on to and what we don’t want to shatter, may be the very things needed to break you apart and shift you into an entirely new way of thinking and living.
About Leah Scott
Based in Jindabyne since 2016, Leah Scott knows the spectacular wilderness of the Australian Alps like the back of her hand. She is an accredited Snowy Mountains guide, certified Wim Hof Method Instructor, AST1 Avalanche Specialist, Wilderness First Aid trained, breathwork specialist, extreme cold tolerance practitioner. Leah is also an experienced alpine hiker and backcountry snowboarder intimately familiar with the natural environment she guides people through. Learn more about Leah’s retreats