Skydiving: Falling into Something New
I often tell people the worst photo of my life was the one taken from the wing of the perfectly good airplane that I jumped out of 20 years ago in 2001; scared for my life with all this funny gear on yet trying to smile for the camera.
Look at the difference in my facial expression for the skydive in 2001 and the one I just did in 2021!
What has changed?
1. Lots of experience doing adventures over the last 20 years, and trainings on how to shift my mindset, overcome fear and relax into the experience.
2. Making a choice to make it more enjoyable.
3. Using the techniques I have learned.
I had a sense of purpose to do this skydive. The conversation to do it kept coming up with others over the last year yet no plans followed through. Eventually I felt certain about doing it and made the plan regardless of whether or not others would follow through to do it with me.
What made me certain I wanted to skydive?
I wanted to see if I could find a way to enjoy the sensation of the free fall more than the first time as I had trouble figuring out how to breathe. My mouth was stuck wide open the entire free fall during my first jump in 2001.
I felt driven to practice relaxing into such a scary and intense experience instead of feeling paralyzed by fear. To me the more I learn how to shift my mindset in the moment of challenge, the more I can do it in other challenges resulting in more ease in my emotions and inner freedom.
I was willing to take the risk. Did you know the odds of dying in a car crash or crossing the street are 2-10 times higher than skydiving, and yet we drive and cross streets all the time despite the risk? To me life does not feel worth living unless I am doing new things, surpassing old boundaries, and exploring how to go beyond what we think we are capable of as humans. Skydiving seems to be one of the ways to achieve that. It is also like taking advantage of all that life has to offer. Thus it was worth the risk.
What are the techniques I used to overcome fear and relax into an enjoyable experience?
Set yourself up to win in advance
Set the mindset you want to have in advance when it is easier: I knew I wanted it to be a deep, meditative and transformative experience. I kept my morning quiet and meditated beforehand.
Set intentions. Above I mentioned wanting to challenge myself to make the experience more enjoyable than previously. I also decided to make the jump symbolic of other shifts I want in my daily life and imagined falling into that new vision.
Establish a supportive environment. What felt supportive for me was choosing not to engage in conflict the morning of the skydive and make sure those with me would be aligned with the energy I wanted to tap into. I even told my instructor what my intentions were so he could help me with them.
This was my birthday gift to myself and a bit of a financial investment. Thus, as a friend would say, I asked myself “What is the most loving thing I can give myself right now?”
Stay Positive. I kept my mind occupied with my intentions and positive thoughts. Waiting to get on the plane and waiting on the entire plane ride offers plenty of time to go into the fear. I used that time to visualize my intentions coming true, and ask my instructor questions about his life, what he loves about skydiving and some facts about the process.
Imagine going through the finish line; another positive thing to occupy your mind with. Visualize successfully completing the task on hand and how it would feel to do so. In this case I imagined landing safely, the high I might feel from the sense of accomplishment and feeling of flying, doing the final video shoot and photos on the ground, and telling the story of the experience to my friends.
Become a “wahooer” instead of screamer. In the past when about to do something that felt scarey I would brace myself as if I was about to do something scarey and be ready to scream to let out the fear upon doing the activity. Recently, due to the inspiration of a friend, I experimented with yelling “wahoo” instead of screaming on the scarey rides at Water World. What I realized was that braced myself with the mindset that I was about to do something fun. It took the feeling of fear away in the pit of my stomach and made the rides a blast.
I was overjoyed to realize all of those techniques worked! I found out what I could do to make breathing easier during the free fall. I barely felt fear beforehand. I felt the sense of freedom and calmness more than the adrenaline rush while falling. And afterwards for a few hours I felt as if I was gliding in a state of inner peace.
This is the path that can be followed not just for doing outrageous things like skydiving, but also every act of your daily life. How will you make each moment of your life special and create from the future of what you want to fall into?
A video of the full skydiving experience: