I love snowboarding! It is one of my all-time favorite things in life. The moments of pure bliss I experience while flying down the mountain are not often found in other parts of my life. It is a moving meditation for me. It drags my mind into the present moment. In the words of the all mighty Joe Rogen, “It’s like high level problem solving with dire physical consequences.” Of course, when he said it he was talking about MMA but it perfectly describes why I love snowboarding so much. Plus you get to go really fast.
I have been snowboarding off and on for the past 15 years. That being said, there were seasons in there where I didn’t go at all and there were definitely some times I thought I might give it up. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 2015 season when I had an “A-ha” moment and something clicked. I began to ride with more confidence and started challenging myself. That is the moment when I truly fell in love with the sport and my obsession began. That moment set my life on a brand new trajectory and has changed my life for the better. These are the three biggest ways in which snowboarding has improved my quality of life…
1) It Completely Changed My Opinion on Winter
I like to get out into nature as much as possible and until I started snowboarding that was almost exclusively in the summertime. I used to be one of those people who absolutely hated the winter time. As the days grew shorter and the nights became colder, like a lot of people, I began preparing for the human equivalent of hibernation. The first snowfall of the year was something that was dreaded, feared and generally considered a bad thing. But now, I look forward to the first snowfall of the year. It puts a smile on my face and makes me giddy. I love watching the fat, puffy snowflakes lazily drift down from the sky and coat everything in a soft white blanket. I now often find myself holding back my excitement at the snow for the benefit of the winter hating people around me.
The first snowfall of the year means something completely different to me now. It means that it will soon be time for me to throw myself down a mountain with nothing but a board strapped to my feet. Finding an activity that can only be done in the winter has been key for these changes in my mood. I’m not saying that you have to ski or snowboard to experience this either. Any winter activity will do, hockey, snowshoeing, skating, anything that gets you outdoors in the winter time really. For me, I love the mountains and I now get to appreciate their beauty all year round. Snow covered peaks are majestic and beautiful plain and simple.
2) It Has Brought Discipline Into My Life
There are very, very few things in this world that I am willing to wake up at 5:00 AM and go do. I don’t even have to wake up that early to go to work. But when there is a promise of fresh powder on the mountains I have no problems dragging myself out of bed and driving two hours to try and be there as early as possible. Getting those fresh lines and first tracks are one of life’s simple pleasures.
The thing that got me back into snowboarding, after taking about a 5 year break, was watching The Art of Flight (Made by Curt Morgan and Travis Rice). It’s all about big mountain riding. It blew my mind. After watching it I decided then and there that that was something I was going to do before I die. To achieve this goal I was going to have to get better, I was going to have to be better. I began pushing myself to ride increasingly difficult terrain. I started paying more attention to my fitness and endurance levels. Off the mountain, I began doing exercises and activities that would help me snowboard better and for longer. I started reading articles and watching videos on improving technique. I became obsessed.
As I work towards this goal there hasn’t just been a positive effect on my riding but there has also been a positive effect on my life. My overall mood has been elevated and I am a happier person in general. As I become more confident on my snowboard, I become more confident in my everyday life.
3) Nothing More Reliably Drops Me Into a Flow State
Often referred to as “being in the zone” or “on your game,” flow states are those moments of clarity where time seems to stand still and nothing else matters but the task at hand. You are completely present in the moment and your body and brain start reacting to situations without thought. All your problems are forgotten, nothing else matters, the future, the past, none of it matters. Only the present matters. It is a symbiotic dance between your body and your mind that banishes all other thoughts from your head. It is meditation in motion. It is pattern recognition at high speeds. These brief moments of complete clarity remind you of what it means to be alive, truly alive.
You don’t have to hurl yourself down mountains at high speeds to experience this state of consciousness however. Flow states can be achieved through a wide range of different activities. Typically these will be activities that get you out of your head and demand a certain level of focus. From creative based endeavors, like making music or painting, to seemingly simple “everyday” tasks, like your job or cleaning the house, moments of flow happen more often than you might think. When the consequences are real and the challenge before you is slightly greater than your skill level, flow won’t be far behind.
BONUS: You get to spend time in the mountains shredding with your homies!