More Life Lessons from an African Safari

No other place in the world has brought me such a feeling of closeness to life and the earth as when I was in Africa.  There was a feeling of connectedness to land and life in its beginnings.  It was the simplicity with which all creatures lived their lives.  Being on safari, I learned a few lessons from several of the animals.   *Click on the pictures to obtain larger images.

1.  Zebra.  I remember a pair of lions that were crouching in the grassy brush, plotting an attack on a herd of zebra.  They each scoped out a different direction.  I had to put my camera down and trade it for my binoculars to observe this rare opportunity.  To the dismay of the lions, the intuitiveness of one of the zebra pulled the herd in another direction and they all ran off.  There was no way for the zebra to actually see the lions from where he stood.  He just sensed it as I saw his ears twitch, his body contract and his face become more alert.  The lesson:  Don’t discount the power of your intuition.  Sometimes, that is the only guidance you receive to make a smart decision.

2.  Lion.  Though the example above showed how intuition can help guide one species, it shows the perseverence of another.  I doubt the pair of lions decided after that defeat to give up hunting.  Once again, it is survival of the fittest.  They must continue to try again in order to live.  The lesson:  Success only comes from perseverence.  Failures are the catalyst, or the fuel, that we can use to our advantage if we choose. 

3.  Cheetah.  The cheetah is a solitary animal, meaning it hunts and gathers on its own.  Though it is one of the fastest animals, it is also the most vulnerable.  If it gets sick or injured, it will likely starve to death.  The lesson:  You may think you can fly solo in life, but allowing others to lend a helping hand on your journey can make the flight smoother.

4.  Elephant.  The African elephant is the largest land mammal in the world.  When I looked into the eyes of these soulful creatures, I saw peace.  They are herbivores and pretty much stay out of the way of other animals.  And because of their size, they are rarely preyed upon.   Despite weighing between 6-7 tons, they walk quietly and are not aggresive animals.  The lesson:  No matter how powerful you are (literally or figuratively), true respect is earned through humility.

5.  Leopard.  We were lucky to see leopards on our safari, as they are usually camouflauged in trees in a distance.  They use trees to their advantage, as they are able to see an aerial view of the surroundings below.  They can take inventory and decide when to make a move.  The lesson:  Have a vision, do the research, and then act.  Your life depends on it.

I think animals have a lot to teach us.  So many of our wellness concepts are interwoven in them.  We may be more advanced from an evolutionary perspective, but sometimes there is much to learn from our primal predecessors.

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Crossing the Finish Line

finish lineThere is an indescribable feeling you have when you set your mind to something and then achieve it.  Yesterday, I felt the ultimate rush as I crossed the finish line of my 1/2 marathon.  It was pure exhiliration followed by full exhalation…..a feeling of accomplishment, gratefulness, and love, coupled with the aftermath of delicious fatigue of the mind and body.  It is a journey of giving yourself fully and wholeheartedely and then being able to relish in the view from the other side. 

I did a lot of thinking during my 13.1 miles.  As I reflected upon the many challanges I have faced in my life (as we all have), I thought about running as being a metaphor for life.  There are times you feel great and at ease, while other times you are challenged to your full extent.  There are moments of confidence followed by fear and self-doubt.  And then there are those crucial minutes when all you can do is place one foot after the next  in hopes of moving foward one step at a time, one breath at a time. 

 I realized that so many of our wellness concepts were interwoven into this run.  I was, without a doubt, exercising my mind & body throughout.  I had to be present and mindful to allow myself to have the mental and physical stamina.  I had taken the risk and challenged myself to go the distance – in more ways than one.  I felt gratitude for my health – the muscles, bones, and organs that allowed me to perform this task.  Finally, in the end, it was truly about letting go and knowing that each step was guiding  me toward my destination.      

So……how do we do this latter part?  Let’s discuss some strategies this week on letting go and going with the flow.  After all, there are countless finish lines to cross in our lives.  And each can be just as exhilirating has finishing a 1/2 marathon, if you can allow yourself to let go.  Stay tuned!