Saturday, January 03, 2009

Why Yogis & Mystics live up at the top of mountains.

The first step in the 2009 reinvention of body/mind/spirit program. Try to find some of that peace/happiness/knowledge stuff. Y'know, a bit of that *good karma* malarky. We all need a bit of that, innit?

But where, historically, do the knowledgeable seers, oracles and blind spindly legged old men who know all the answers hang out?

The Mind/Body & Spirit section of the bookshop? No.
Begging for coppers outside Tesco? No.

Up a mountain. Yes. Precisely.
And why do they live up there? Usually to avoid other people. To avoid having to shop at Tescos and get stuck in traffic. They want time to themselves to do some thinking.

And so that's where we must go. Out into the cold, up above the clouds, up, up, up - some reasonably sized mountains (or very big hills, I'm not sure what they are technically). But Yorkshire, the peaks of Ingleborough & the confusingly Welsh sounding Pen-y-ghent. There's a third peak that you're meant to do, as some sort of *challenge*, but heck, let's leave that one till later in the year. When it's not dark at 4pm.

You've got to have something to aim at.

The weather's shockingly cold but as you trudge along feeling heroic and brave, a bunch of fell runners come storming past dressed in gloves, long-sleeve shirts and shorts. Yes, shorts. And they're running. Hmmm. But are they on spiritual mind/body/etc pilgrimages? No, they are not. The fit bastards. Imagine how Scott of the Antarctic would have felt as he trudged heroically along the ice, only to be overtaken by a gaggle of charity fun runners. Tied together as part of a sponsored three-legged race. A bunch of accountants from Barnstaple waving merrily at Scott & his dogs as they swigged from cans of Fosters and stormed past at twice his speed. Scott wouldn't be best pleased, I'm thinking. And he wouldn't want to 'pop a few pennies in the bucket' for them. Never mind if it is all 'going to a good cause.' 'Helping the poorly kiddies.' No. Forget them.

You don't just go up a mountain to get fit. It's more than just a *Green Gym*. You want to get close to nature and all that chutney. Get out in the open air. Feel free. Breathe in the cold clear air. Even if you don't always enjoy it, it will help you appreciate sitting in a comfy chair and drinking a nice cup of tea. But if you never leave your comfy chair you'll never know what you've got. Cos there's nothing better than sitting your cold aching body down in a chair by a fire and warming up with a cup of tea or a cheeky pint.

*Spiritually* it kind of helps you to appreciate the moment as well. As clangingly obvious as that thought is, that's what being out in the silent cold air does for you. The scenery changing with every footstep. The weather changing by the minute and completely out of your control. The view will never look exactly like this ever again. There will be different patches of cloud, rain, sunshine, snow. In five minutes time you might not be able to see further than your hand. The mist can descend in an instant. A friendly walk can become a hideous nightmare. The moment exists only for you. A photograph doesn't reflect the tiredness, the elation, the coldness or even how bored with the countryside the photographer was.

And as the picture above shows, even when you get to the top, the journey down can be just as perilous. You can learn a lot about yourself up a mountain and a lot about the people you go with. How you relate to them, how you argue about the routes and everything else. But that is a subject for the next post perhaps...


  1. You exactly capture why you'd want to climb a mountain. And the pictures show why it's magnificent in winter.

    Then you do the intrigue thing. Grr.

  2. God, I'm jealous. Meant to get in some decent hall-walking when I was up North over xmas, but it never happened.

  3. regarding the intrigue aspect MD, the problem is you can't say things without saying thing. Unless you have an anonymous blog. Cos if you say stuff about your real life with people you know, like etc; they can end up not liking you no more. tis the blogger's curse.

    And Kaite - I'm guessing that's a typo - but I do like the idea of 'hall-walking'. I love the thought of hordes of booted and woolly hatted walkers pounding up and down the halls of Huddersfield Town Hall. You may well have started a new cult pastime. Personally, I fancy having a crack at the civil services building in Leeds. I bet they've got some corridors (I'm fighting against LOL use here, but I think I've blown it...)

  4. true indeed, but the hints are intriguing.

    intriguing is good even if it makes mad people growl at you.