For us humans one thing remains constant – no matter where we are or what we are doing we are always thinking. We think about how we are driving, our work, the washing we forgot to put out to dry. We think about how others are driving, what our manager is thinking about our work, why we are thinking about what we are thinking. And so it goes on.
These minds – that have developed over the years, can be one of our greatest assets, but if not used correctly can become our greatest enemy. We have all been there in those moments when the noise of our minds does not let us sleep, when situations play out again and again in our heads and the creativity of our self-awareness turns tiny events into mountains.
The brain, our brain has everything to do with this. And yes, it’s just us. The human brain compared to those of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzee, weigh in at two thirds larger. The reason being the evolutionary expansion of the association cortex. This area supports cognitive functions such as language, self-awareness and problem solving. Add on top of this the increased number of neurons in this cortex, as well as the increased number of fibres connecting the brain regions involved in functions such as language, reasoning and social cognition, and you have quite a complex animal. That thinks…alot.
So sometimes, its not a bad idea to just quieten the brain for a while – to be a little more chimpanzee and just monkey around in the canopy for a bit.
So – I decided to go Ape.
At 9:00 one Saturday morning my friend and I found ourselves on the south bank of the River Thames in London. Towering above us was Go Ape Battersea’s 730 metres of treetop fun with the highest platform measuring in at some 13.6 metres, zip wires up to 50metres and challenging crossings spanning to over 30 metres. What better way to go back to thinking more simply than by climbing trees, walking across swaying bridges and zip wiring between wooden platforms?
Obviously due to our inexperience at ‘ape-ing’ around (also potentially due to saftey and insurance purposes!) we were harnessed up, then given a brief explanation on how to move between the different areas (clipping and un-clipping the carabinas ) and we were off! The harnesses are not the comfiest things ever, but their tightness does makes you feel a little more secure!
SO strapped in as such, and ready to go we strod over the woodchip to the first starting station, hooked ourselves up to the safety wire and then walked up the wooden stairs to the first of the crossings. You gradually get higher, and the wooden stairs are soon replaced with rope tubes you have to pull yourself up through. Slowly get used to being further and further away from the ground and after a while you stop noticing the height as you are concentrating so hard on how to navigate the crossings.
It is also hilarious – and I am pretty sure that half of Battersea park could hear us giggling as we crawled up through the tunnels suspended mid-air, tried walking across the zigzag bridges without holding onto the guide rope and took running leaps from one platform to another (attached to a zip wire).
It is interesting that while you are up there – you actually don’t notice the time. And when the mind is focused on the physical challenges – balancing, judging distances and heights – it doesn’t have space to get lost in thoughts. You get lost in the moment.
So in summary – go Ape! Let loose a little and give your mind a challenge that focuses on something other than language, reasoning and social cognition. You will feel more refreshed, relaxed and energised. So you can go back to thinking…with a little bit more perspective and a cool certificate! 😀
And…. enjoy x