42 km to your SOUL – an inspirational journey to responsibility
This arcticle was published in the Kiteboarding Magazin, Issue December 2016 in German. The English version was written by myself, Nadja Knauder.
“I allow myself to be who I feel to be, crazy and feminine, also on water”
Personal Fitness and Mental Coach Nadja Knauder is about to let us know how performing a kite marathon is not all about achieving physical peak performance, it is more powerful than that – the beauty of mental power is felt, opening the doors to amazing individual growth not imaginable and exploitable unless experienced.
Every one of us is surrounded and limited by it.
Our comfort zone.
Its boundaries keeping us from living our full potential as our thoughts are our limits, they are our keepers.
They are the reason
- making us feel chained in our everyday life,
- causing the feeling of fading away.
If we want to break free of this suffocating feeling as we are not living our full potential, meaning we are not in touch with ourselves, then we need to MOVE, we need to STEP out, out of our comfort zone,
we need to pass our keepers.
This new freedom is the path to experience happiness (again) – *** Empower Your Thoughts ***
A wonderful way to leave one’s personal comfort zone is to perform a kite marathon on the water. My first kite marathon was the one by Red Bull in 2015 named Coast2Coast, the route going from the island of Fehmarn in Germany to the coast of Denmark, turning point being in front of the town Rodbynhavn. The total distance exceeding just about 42 km, the official marathon distance. The route also included passing the seaport route with heavy traffic, adding to the challenging conditions of the sea.
“I know how to kite” was my motto and so I did not really see any harm in participating in that race, no big deal.
How could this lovely kite session be anything else but an inspiring journey?
Well, I was about to find out better and experience my limits, on a physical and mental level.
“We are the only ones responsible for our happy moments – it’s all about moving, taking action and it is up to each individual to take action.”
Limits that are not able to be felt in real life, in our daily routine.
It took me 2 ½ hrs to get back home. While I was “flowing” over the waves totally overpowered, I met my physical stamina which I could only exploit as my guardian angel made me experience and feel my mental stamina, my power, my faith in my capabilities –
the mental stamina is the leader,
it makes the body move and perform at its BEST.
Until then, I had never really known what I am capable of doing. I was totally overpowered out there and despite 500 other kite surfers being out there, I was totally alone, unbelievable actually and adding to feeling very delicate, very unsafe. Once I was back on shore my mind told me
“you are never ever going to do that again!!!”
I was totally exhausted, mainly from my mental survival mode I was triggered into by the circumstances and my non-existent level of experience in such kite races.
But, our mind is a very tricky companion.
As much as it tries to make us believe that we have forgotten certain experiences, it really does forget physical pain very fast, thank God, which is why, after a short recovery phase in the sun, a voice spoke to me and said
“You are going to do something like that again!!!”.
What actually happened out there?
Well, I was totally overpowered and I could have just pressed the emergency button attached to me. A safety boat would have come along and taken me to the safety of the shore. My pride would not let that happen though. I was determined to succeed. I am sporty, I am fit, and I always wanted to know, to feel my physical and mental natural born stamina. Being out there, I was confronted with all kind of thoughts, it was a battle.
The strongest thoughts and feelings coming up were those of surviving this trip.
My brain was triggered to feel threatened, so it went into life-saving mode.
It was very interesting to experience what this mode actually can mean.
In my case it supported me by bringing up a wonderful, already forgotten, memory back to my mind. Being out there as such, had really
boosted me out of my comfort zone, feeling scared, lost and literally hanging on to my kite,
I wanted to give in.
Then my brain said “no” and without perceiving it, I suddenly became aware that I was singing an English children’s good night song, which my English grandmother had sung to me. How peculiar and awesome, my mind was trying to sooth me, this memory apparently had this power. In this situation I was rather expecting to sing something like a Heavy Metal song keeping me going.
This moment though showed me the magnificent capability,
power and function of our brain and its memories.
I was not aware of this connection with my grandmother anymore and that my inner self connected feeling safe and sheltered by her. Being in that situation, I found out about a lovely long-lost memory with my grandmother. I was shown an important and lost feeling, which was now protecting me, guiding me, making me feel safe and confident, bringing me back home to shore. I was not alone anymore, my fear disappeared – unexpectedly my mental power moment was triggered out there, instead of developing it beforehand in mental training sessions.
“Only if we feel to trust our own competencies, can we pursue goals successfully.”
After I had decided to participate in further kite marathons, it was clear that I needed to do some kind of training to avoid such energy consumption on my body and mind again, allowing myself actually to focus on the race.
So in summer 2016 I went to El Gouna to be a kite instructor and to also have a place to train. Being in El Gouna I found my training partner Byron de Nicker. Byron is from South Africa and as passionate about kiteboarding as I am. We chose a day with constant wind over the day allowing us to feel confident about the conditions. The route was 20 km out into the open sea, leaving the shore behind us, and back again.
The significant difference to the Red Bull Coast2Coast event in 2015 was that the Red Bull event was supervised and safety boats were around to take action.
In our case, we were totally alone, no boats, no safety button and no life vest, in case of an emergency. I was supervising our speed and time via my training watch.
Our trip was easy: 20 km out into the open sea and back again. After 7 km I signalled Byron the number, he nodded. After 11 km the next signal – he was surprised about the number as he was feeling more km in his legs. At 15 km he suddenly stopped on a reef. At that point we had actually been in one body position for 40 minutes, causing first signs of fatigue. I was able to motivate Byron to tackle the last 5 km before reaching our point of return. Until reaching the 20 km everything went fine.
As soon as we changed direction though, heading back to shore,
our unconscious mind made its appearance.
Thoughts buried deep down in our unconscious mind were surfacing due to the strain our body and mind were perceiving.
This was all happening automatically and with no conscious thinking from our side.
We were facing our fears, parts of our personality, our thoughts that we were not allowing in our daily routine, were getting their opportunity to finally be heard – if we wanted those thoughts or not.
Speeding over waves for nearly one hour, having a time limit to stick to, and no safety boat, these facts and conditions were slowly and surely growing on us. All we wanted now was to get back as fast as possible and especially to make it back safely at all. We still had 20 km to go and the wind had picked up, another condition pulling at our energy.
We were now both totally overpowered, the kite being too big for the wind condition, it was hard work to stay on the board and not to fall in the water. Being in a static position concerning our muscles was becoming a challenge too. Due to the wind conditions and the difference in kite equipment the gap between Byron and myself grew bigger and bigger – the feeling of being alone, feeling abandoned was coming up inside of myself, making me feel at unease, sucking at my energy resources.
My mind went into overdrive,
suddenly I was really afraid of falling into the water, to be injured by a shark and to not make it back to shore and be safe. As we were just alone, no boats around, no life vest, no connection to the shore, being alone received a new feeling – suddenly I became fully aware of something that apparently was bothering my mind. My mind was now talking to me, giving me a solution, a peaceful revelation allowing me to move forward.
I suddenly felt confident that any decision I take in my future
“I cannot pass on the responsibility for my decisions – for my life – to someone else.”
life will always be my full responsibility,
including beneficial and challenging outcomes.
I can never blame anyone else for my decisions but myself.
The responsibility will always be mine, even if a decision was taken in partnership.
These words might sound simple and clear, nonetheless I believe that many of us have not yet felt the true power behind these words.
In order for the power of peacefulness behind these words to do its magic in our daily lives, relaxing us in our behaviour, these words need be anchored in our mind and this is only possible if the true meaning has been actually felt. Then an authentic, self-determined and successful life can be perceived.
Discovering these feelings is the core of my work.
By experiencing personal extreme situations, the necessary connection between the body and mind is made allowing for personal growth which is needed to exploit ones true potential, which in turn leads to happiness.
Acknowledging things by actually feeling them is the way to cognitive reframing,
meaning that old thoughts are consciously eliminated and replaced by new, beneficial thoughts for oneself. Only if you put yourself in situations triggering your mental potential can you cause change and reach new self-esteem and self-worth.
In my workshops I create such situations, on safe ground and conditions.
Nonetheless, they will provide the inputs needed towards being able to exploit individual potential by perceiving oneself, one’s own thoughts in a different context, eliminating destructive patterns. Fear and stress mechanism are triggered, which we try to avoid in our daily life, thinking that we actually have managed to do so. Instead we are being fooled by our conscious mind. Our fears and worries are there to guide us forward, not to maintain us in a freezing position.
Oh yes, Byron and myself made it back safely to El Gouna, to shore and despite all the upcoming thoughts, we made it there and back in 1 hr 45 minutes, exceeding my anticipated goal. We were exhausted, especially mentally, but we were safe.
What did I learn through this kite trip with Byron?
Doing those 40 km was not the real challenge, but to feel, after 20 km, that we were so far away from shore, totally alone, with no safety boat, no life vest or any other possibility allowing us to feel emotionally safe, that was the strain during this trip. We could not just stop and rest and walk back home, we were out on the open sea. Who knows what was floating beneath us. We were totally at mercy and had to trust our capabilities that we had not tested before.
We were totally alone with our thoughts, knowledge, we had nothing to relate to, it was a first time experience for both of us and that was endangering additionally, as it was eating away our energy resources. Our performance level was in danger and so our body and mind changed into survival mode, protecting us and destroying us at the same time. I cannot even say we underestimated the trip, we literally did not feel there was any danger ahead of us as we were going out for a lovely kite trip under the sun – a training session.
All those thoughts and feelings that came up during that trip are the reason why I nonetheless enjoy doing such sessions – it gets you (back) into real touch with yourself and shows you what power lies within you, powers that we often underestimate keeping us from actually creating wonderful opportunities for ourselves and in turn for anyone around us.
When facing situations that bring up our individual fear, then we should learn how to conquer this particular fear and make it our partner in crime by detecting its true roots, understanding what it is trying to make us see, feel and understand, guiding us towards our true potential waiting out there for us to be lived.
Facing fears is not necessarily a comfortable thing to do.
In the end it is worth the short struggle compared to a life full of wasted opportunities.
In order to face them, we need to move to the end of our comfort zone, that’s where they are, eliminate them and walk over the line with a relieved breath and a new spirit igniting your full potential.
The trip Byron and myself took allowed us to significantly boost our comfort zones and turn certain fears into happy hormones, still guiding us today.