Emotion of Change By Agnesia Agrella
Updated: Sep 23, 2022
It is the 9 October 2014, it is 7 pm in the evening, I am about to leave for the airport to start my Mount Kilimanjaro journey. I am checking the packing list. I cannot forget anything. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I have never pushed myself out of my physical comfort zone and I have been planning this trip for 18 months. I was joining 2 friends from London, and we are all doing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for different charities. I was building awareness for Craniosacral therapy.
My thoughts are interrupted by the ringing of my phone. It is an international number, but I do not recognize the number. “Hello, Agnesia Speaking” “ Hello Miss Agrella it is Katy from Charity Challenge, I am just phoning to see if you are OK, we were expecting you to join us today as we start climbing tomorrow.” It is the organizer from Charity Challenge, the team taking us up Mount Kilimanjaro. I feel my stomach turn, I feel a bit dizzy and everything slows down around me. As I recognize the shock in my body. How is this possible? “I am in South Africa about to go to the airport I am arriving in Tanzania tomorrow morning. My flight lands at 7 am.” I said. “I am sorry, but we leave for the mountain tomorrow morning.”
Another shock goes through my body as I realize I made a mistake with my flight time. My flight was 2 am in the morning on the 8 October, not the 9 October. My mind is racing, the fear of missing this trip sends my body into further panic. So many different ideas flash through my mind like a movie on fast forward.
How will I explain to people I missed my flight and could not complete my journey? This thought is not a possibility for me. I must make this journey.
As if she could read my mind she says. “Please tell me what time your flight lands, is it at 7 am? We are all staying in a hotel in the city and the airport is on our way to the starting point where we will start our climb. We can pick you up at the airport if your flight lands at 7 am and you can still join us.”
“Thank you so much I will be there” I reply. Now I realize I have missed my flight and I must go to the airport and beg them to change my flight. I can do this. I prepare myself that I will get another flight and I will start my Mount Kilimanjaro journey in the morning.
A miracle happened that evening because there were still seats available and the airline was very accommodating. I just had to pay the admin fee to change my flight. I burst into tears of sheer relief. The lady at the airline desk saw my emotion and just smiled at me. “I hope your trip goes well,” she says as she hands me my new ticket. As I walked out of Kilimanjaro International
Airport, I see my friends. Thank God they waited for me!! I made it!! And more tears.
Sitting on the bus I reflect on my journey, and I realize how stressed I am. The mistake I made with my flight times was due to the stress of the last 6 months. My brother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and we had to close his business. His operation to remove the cancer was a success, but the diagnosis changed both our lives. He was terrified of the future, and I was terrified of facing the future without him.
I realized how overwhelming the last 6 months were and I am about to put my body through more stress, and I am terrified. I can see the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance, and I can hear people talk on the bus, but I am in another world. My inner world. I take a deep breath, I can do this, I say to myself. I am here now.
At the starting point, I had time to connect with my friends from London, and we will support each other through this journey. There were 23 people in the group, and they have already bonded, I just joined the group. Once again, I feel like an outsider. But once I met them all I realized I am in a very supportive group.
By day 2 I felt horrible and had to stop a couple of times being sick. The support team assured me that it is just my body adjusting to altitude and most probably releasing the stress from missing my flight. Nobody knew about my brother yet. My craniosacral therapy skills served me well and I tuned into my body and listened to the support team I arrive at camp an hour later than everybody else, but I made it. I recovered overnight and could continue the climb. Over the next 5 days, I experienced the mountain through my body, and it was the most amazing experience of my life.
I did not summit because I got altitude sickness on the night of the summit. I think it was about an hour into the walk to the summit I stopped again being sick. The medic comes over and asks, “how do you feel?” “I don’t know,” I said. “How many times have you been sick,” he asks. “I don’t know,” I said.
This time I bend over my walking sticks putting my head on my hands. The medic speaks to the guide who was walking with me all this time. The medic turns to me and asks, “do you want to turn back?” “I don’t know,” I said. The medic then said, “I think you have lost too much fluid and at this stage of the walk you will not be able to replace that fluid I think you should turn back.” “OK, if you think that is best,” I said.
They arranged that my guide would take me back to camp. I just made camp when I was sick again and after that went to bed.
When I woke up, it was so quiet. For a few seconds, I did not know where I was. Then I remembered I am on Mount Kilimanjaro, I turned back to camp I must be in my tent. It was just me and a couple of guides from all the different parties in the camp. I got up and found a rock to watch the sun come up. As I watched the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro coming through the morning mist, with a sense I am the only person on earth, I review the last 24 hours.
Then I hear the singing of the guides preparing breakfast for those returning from the summit. I had time to reflect on my experience and surrendered that I finally pushed my body to its limits and that I now know where my physical boundaries are.
It gave me time to get my head around the experience and to prepare to celebrate with my friends and others who were returning from the summit.
There was no regret that I did not summit! This was my journey and I had to feel my body and learn my boundaries. Yes, I did not summit, I had a different experience than the rest of the group. I was truly happy for me and for them.
This time I was there to welcome my friends to camp.
When I got home, I found myself replaying different parts of my Kilimanjaro experience in my head. I looked at my diary again and could see how entries changed every day. There were no entries on the day of the summit. What happened on this day? I looked at my photos and remembered the day. For me, it was the most profound experience but people around me could only see that I did not summit, and they felt so sorry for me. Looking at my photos and the entries in my diary -
I realized the wisdom of my body of our bodies. My body was protecting me without me realizing it. I realized that altitude sickness started at lunchtime on the day of the summit. Maybe I did not forget to make that entry maybe my decision-making was difficult due to a lack of oxygen in my brain. My body was slowly going into survival from lunchtime on the day of the summit. My body took over without me even knowing. I started to compare my experience of altitude sickness with trauma.
The mistakes I made after the diagnosis of my brother and how I wanted to be strong for my brother are indications of stress and trauma. Suddenly I realized why my brother was making certain decisions which were so out of character for him. He was also in survival, and he is in the fight, flight or freeze mode, but not realizing it. Suddenly I saw everything from a different perspective.
Using my knowledge as a therapist and my experience on the mountain I gained understanding and compassion for the journey my brother was going through. He was experiencing a life-threatening illness; he lost his business, and he had a family to care for.
It gave me perspective on how to support people during times of stress, trauma and overwhelm which I did not have before. It also motivated me to look for more ways to support people during stress. I continued my studies of how the body works and how we can recover from extreme stress. I am now a HeartMath Coach and a Neurochange Solutions consultant using HeartMath Institute and Dr Joe Dispenza’s work to help people understand the emotion of change.
My studies also provided me with the tools to heal my own trauma and reduce the stress in my body. I learned how to recognize the sensations of fear and stress in my body, and I used meditation, breathing, exercise and nutrition to give my body space to relax, recover, and repair.
You see when our bodies go into stress it goes into fight, flight or freeze without us knowing. When we take time to familiarize ourselves with the sensations in our bodies, we can recognize our stress and overwhelm sooner. It gives us the opportunity to use adrenalin when we need it e.g. when we need to deal with emergencies, presentations or work, deadlines, difficult customers, or emergencies surrounding family or friends. But our bodies are not designed to live at high-stress levels over long periods of time.
Unfortunately, as humans, we also bring on the stress response with our thoughts. When we constantly repeat an event over and over in our heads. I know it is difficult to switch these thoughts off. That is where skills like self-regulation and coherence breathing help us to turn survival thoughts into more positive loving thoughts. When we think of something or someone we love or when we feel deep gratitude, we can move the body into relax, digest and repair system.
The HeartMath Institute has developed a technology called the inner balance that helps people feel what it feels like when their body is in coherence. The device provides a breath pacer that helps them breathe in a more rhythmic way. Making the in-breath the same length as the out-breath and allowing the body to adjust to a place where it can relax.
When we experience positive situations or have thought of people, things or places that make us happy, feel and express love the body releases chemicals that help the body to relax, digest and repair. It is the opposite state of fight or fight response. With an understanding of how the body works, learning to interpret the sensations in your own body and using self-regulation techniques consistently over time the body forms new habits which assist in healing. We must just learn how to move out of the fight, flight or freeze into relax, digest and repair.
The brain is like any muscle in the body when you exercise it consistently it will form habits. Those habits can either push chemicals into the body that will break it down over time or you can push chemicals into the body that will repair it. The choice is yours. I know this is difficult and we think healing is out of our control but the choice to do the exercises that keeps us healthy is within our control.
Agnesia Agrella is a virtual assistant helping businesses improve their process. She is also a Craniosacral Therapist, HeartMath Coach with Heartmath Institute, Neurochange Solutions Consultant which is a corporate training designed by Dr Joe Dispenza and she is also a Whole Brain practitioner with Kobus Neethling Institute. She uses her understanding of how the body works to guide businesses through the emotion of change.
Agnesia believes a business is just like the human body if the body systems work well people are healthy when business systems work well the business makes profits. Balancing the people and business process creates healthy people and healthy businesses.