Breathing Space.....

3rd Jan 2014

Peak Mountaineering is what my accountant reliably informs me is a lifestyle business.  I have to accept I'll never be driven around in a chauffeured Rolls Royce or served by my personal chef.  I really don't care.  I have been driven around the streets of Delhi in rickshaws or journeyed the roads of Moshi in dalla dalla's.  My personal chefs have been the team that fed me in that mountain base camp or the cook in that cosy tea house.  I can live with it being a lifestyle business if it provides for my family and still offers a rich and varied life. 
However, a lifestyle business can also mean a business that takes over your life and, as most self employed business people will agree, it can be hard not to let it intrude into every waking moment.  Where's the relaxation time when you are seeking out wifi in mountain villages so you can check everything is okay back at the office?
A friend of mine runs a company with the coolest business name I know.  It's called Breathing Space and they offer corporate and development activities.  The name just seems to fit the need we all have to find those reflective times and those opportunities to enjoy simply being.  For me, as I'm sure it is for many people that read this blog, that breathing space is one of the things that I find most powerfully during my interactions with the natural world.  Infact, the growing number of people involved in outdoor activities suggests more and more of us are looking for some outdoor breathing space.
I find that breathing space comes in different ways in the outdoors depending on the activity.  One way is when I'm so focussed on one thing that it takes all my concentration and everything else gets left behind. For me that probably comes best through climbing.  I might have business matters on my mind as I walk to the crag and I may be thinking of the things I have to do back at the office as I return to my car.  But, at the point when I am tied in to the rope and focus on the moves ahead all that head clutter falls away.  The moves, the gear placements, the route finding and the buzz of the danger. For however long the climb lasts I am totally absorbed.
Other activities allow time for both types.  Mountain biking is a good example.  On the long climbs I tend to let my mind wander as much as possible to distract me.  Then, as I switch to more technical ground or a challenging descent it is time to switch back to that single focus time again.  It's a great combination of relaxation and adrenaline.
I started writing this blog post on my recent trip to Nepal.  I didn't have a climb to focus on as the itinerary was solely trekking.  Trekking doesn't require such a single focus so in these situations my mind wanders more freely.  It's a chance to enjoy what's around me, to spot that distant peak or small holding, to enjoy the breeze or the feel of the sun on my face.
Breathing space also comes in big or small chunks of time.  Nipping out of the office to climb a few routes on gritstone or have an hour on the bike is a quick fix whereas a gentle activity like trekking for a few weeks provides more time for creating new ideas or planning new courses.  It gives opportunities to ponder on the pros and cons of a particular piece of equipment or to think about future objectives.  There is the time to read a book that may become another of our Peak Mountaineering Top Reads or to sit under a shady tree and listen to music.  While a short blast of breathing space may keep me dosed up for a few days, when I finish longer trips I always have a big enough dose of breathing space to keep me buzzing for a while.  I'll also return with the recharged business batteries to put some new ideas into practice along with an ipad full of new reviews and articles.  
All the strands are interlinked and together they add up to that rich and varied life we all seek.  I hope you find plenty of your own breathing space in 2014.............
Posted by Paul