So I decided to call my blog ‘journey with a purpose’ as, for me, this is the simplest definition of an expedition. And this expedition in particular is certainly a journey with a purpose.
I love the idea of using outdoor experiences for personal development and have long been an advocate of getting outside and having an adventure. However, I have never experienced an adventure like this one we have planned; off to the Himalayas for 23 days of consecutive trekking with the 6500m summit of Mera Peak on Remembrance Day our aim.
I have definitely had some personal experience of the benefits of adventure to aid recovery. Having formerly been a Commando helicopter pilot, flying in operations in Afghanistan, going on training exercises in the Arctic, performing deck landings to ships at sea, I suddenly found myself a bit broken. Shortly before deploying on my 4th tour of Afghan I suffered an vasovagal syncope (blackout) which, as you can imagine, is not conducive to being a helicopter pilot. 12 months later and I’m medically discharged from the Navy and on civvy street without a job and still feeling the associated symptoms to my blackout of anxiety and low mood.
I was feeling pretty lost at this period of my life and I consider myself so fortunate to have had the support from my then fiancé, Amy, who helped me to recognise my mental health challenges and also the opportunities around me for recovery. Along with support from Amy, friends and family I threw myself into my adventure sports and spent long days at the crags, beaches and rivers.
At the time I just felt that getting out climbing etc was a good distraction from my lack of a plan and I knew that it helped me feel better. But since those early days I have continued to learn and experiment with the ideas around how adventure and outdoor experiences can be of huge benefit to us all.
In my next blog I will share a few of my discoveries on how and why I believe adventure and outdoor experiences have helped me but essentially I think it comes down to three things:
1. Having a sense of purpose (an autotelic goal).
2. Being totally immersed in the experience.
3. Reflecting and taking the learning from it.
Mission Himalaya 2018 is going to tick all these boxes.