My Skydiving Experience

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As some of you already know from reading my Taking a Leap into 2012 blog, I jumped out of a plane a couple of weeks ago while I was vacationing in Kauai.  I wanted to share the experience in more detail with you because if you could feel all that was going on inside of me, it may help you in your life when you are confronted with a challenge you want to overcome.

As I mentioned before, it is something I dreamed about doing my whole adult life, but somehow it lived in the fantasy state.  I would like for you to stop right now and think of what is that one thing that you have always wanted to do, but there is a part of you that doesn’t believe you ever will?  Continue to read after you think of something.  I have a feeling that it will not be as outrageous as jumping out of a plane:-)  So join me now on my adventure of making my dream a reality.

The decision to skydive on this trip in Kauai was not at all planned.  I was searching trip advisor for great things to do when I came across skydiving.  I began to read the reviews and I could feel my body contract with fear.  I decided to continue reading (there were over 30 reviews)  With each review I began to feel a little more the excitement and less of the fear of doing.  I started asking myself why not?  I knew this was a safe thing to do and that the fear was irrational.  I knew I really wanted to experience this and I knew that I really wanted to confront my fear around this.  As I was challenging my fears and insecurities, I finally asked myself if I am ever going to do this, I can’t imagine a better place to do it.  At that moment I decided to just act, commit.  I called the place and made the reservation for David and I.   I did not tell David because I wanted to surprise him for our 4th anniversary.  I knew he would love the idea and that it would be an amazing way for us to celebrate our adventurous relationship.  I chose the sunrise jump, knowing it would be the most romantic.  I actually ended up telling him about it a couple of days before we left since I wanted us to look forward to it together.

Our B&B was 1 hour and 40 min away from the airstrip.  On the fateful day, we got up @ 4:00 to get there by 6:30am.  The drive there was nerve wracking for me.  My heart was pounding, my hands were clammy and I was feeling quite fearful.  I verbalized my feelings to David, who remained calm and patient with me.  I could feel myself preparing my psyche and my body to go through this inevitable choice.  My mind kept telling me I don’t have to go through with this.  It kept urging me to cancel and flee this very uncomfortable feeling of terror, but I knew that it was my amygdala doing its fight/flight thing and I kept reminding myself that I want to do this and I am safe.

When we arrived at the airstrip, the place felt eery; it was dark, isolated and barren.  All I could see is open space, a really small

plane that could hardly fit a couple of people, and a little hut, which turned out to be the office.  There were a couple of people in this “office,” a woman on the phone, and a man seemingly running around getting things in order.  Neither was warm or engaging.  It was not what I expected since the reviews talked about how warm and soothing the staff was.  I could feel my anxiety rise again and the desire to flee returned.  Again I grounded myself with the reminder that I want to do this and it doesn’t matter if these people are not showing up the way I want.  I am here and I am going to follow through. David and I soothed each other and helped each other remain calm.

Finally, the person in charge came and immediately put us more at ease.  He answered some of our questions and informed us that they have 19 jumps that day so we are lucky to be the first.  I thought to myself, gosh these people do it so often it’s like crossing the street for them.   That thought was both comforting and scary.  Comforting because they must know what they are doing with so much experience.  Scary because maybe it is so automatic for them they may not be as present as they need to be and may make a mistake.  He then gave each of us a ton of papers to sign releasing them from any possible lawsuit.  It was insane, every page essentially said “you know that you are about to do something that can cause you great harm or kill you, and you are choosing to do it of your own accord.”  We had to initial every page and then he video taped us signing it, acknowledging that we are doing this voluntarily and releasing them from any lawsuits by our families.  It was almost comical.  If we didn’t run away from that ordeal, we knew nothing was going to stop us. We did not even waver when they informed us that the clouds were too dense and we had to wait until they dispersed to ensure that we could see the ground when we jump.

As I am writing this, I can feel my stomach contracting the way it did when I heard them say “we are ready”.

When we got on the plane, which barely contained the four of us and the pilot, a feeling of surrender came over me.  I marveled at the fact that if I had not been so scared of the jump, I probably would have been scared to enter this tiny little plane.  When it took off, the whole thing became somewhat surreal.  We could see the island get smaller and smaller.  We were climbing into the bright, sunrise-lit, golden clouds that reflected bright golden light on each of us.  It was both terrifying and awe-inspiring.  The fear was no longer affecting my thoughts.  I could feel it in my body, but it became something separate from me, Ronit.  I was clear that I am about to do something I have always wanted to do and that fear was not going to stop me.

As the door of the plane opened and David jumped with his partner, I watched with peace in my heart.  When it was our turn to dangle our feet over the plane before the moment of jumping, my system moved into some kind of numbness.  I think the fear was just too overwhelming and my system went into a freeze state.  As soon as we jumped though, the whole experience shifted into ecstasy.  I did not have a feeling of falling, even though we were plummeting at 120 miles an hour.  A feeling of AWE took over me as I looked all around and saw the beautiful sunrise and the earth below me.  We were in free fall for 30 seconds.  It felt more like 10 seconds.  It was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

 

 

When he pulled the chute open, there was a lot of jerking and disorientation and we flipped once.

It was very unsettling, and just as suddenly I found myself suspended in the air.  At first I truly enjoyed the silence and the beauty all around me.  But then I grew nervous about the landing, in particular not wanting to land in the water.  Clearly my mind got reengaged as the feeling of threat entered my body again.  Not having the information that our skydivers have total control over where we land, I got hijacked by this thought and was unable to enjoy the rest of the experience.  However, when I saw David landing on the strip that we flew out of, I realized that these guys know exactly what they are doing and I was able to relax again and enjoy my landing.

When David and I hit the ground, it took us quite a while to feel the earth beneath our feet.  We were soaring for the next few hours.  The most important thing we realized is how fear steals our ability to remain present and fully experience every precious moment of life.  We knew that we could have enjoyed the experience so much more if we didn’t feel the fear.

Given that there is no way to avoid feeling fear when we experience something new and scary for the first time, we decided we are going to skydive again.  This way we will teach our bodies that there is nothing to be afraid of and we will be able to truly experience every moment.

Now let’s return to what you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet.  Would you reconsider?  Don’t let fear prevent you from experiencing and living your life to the fullest.  I am rooting for you!!

 

 

 

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4 Comments on “My Skydiving Experience”

  • 1 February, 2012,

    Ronit, it’s amazing what incredible things fear of our mind prevents us from doing. What a great demonstration of the power of the mind and a freeing experience for yourself. 

    Thanks for sharing,
    Dawn

  • ronit
    1 February, 2012,

    Dawn, thank you for your feedback. It is remarkable how much of our lives is experienced through the fear lens of the brain, and therefore, stops us from living our lives fully. Our brains misread stress as danger and activate the primitive fight or fight centers, causing us to react irrationally to everyday situations. Learning how our brains work and living in communities that support us to be courageous and confront these irrational fears is an essential step toward transformation to a more conscious, compassionate, caring and connected humankind.
    With gratitude and appreciation,
    Ronit

  • Ashley
    19 March, 2013,

    I am doing my first skydive experience this Saturday and I am looking over people’s blogs. I just wanted to say that this brought tears to my eyes. I am so nervous but so excited to experience this!

  • ronit
    19 March, 2013,

    Ashley,  How wonderful for you to be taking this plunge.  This experience will teach you that there is nothing you can’t do.  I am sending you positive energy and looking forward to hearing how it went.  
    Enjoy!

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