The following has been excerpted from On the Verge: Wake Up, Show, and Shine, through which fitness professional Cara Bradley aims to teach readers to synchronize the body and mind and live with energy and awareness each day.
Right here, in this moment, you have the opportunity to fully engage in what’s happening, to participate in reading these words, to feel the couch beneath you or the sun on your face. Show up right now beyond busyness and actively pay attention, and you directly experience more of, well, everything. You feel awake to what’s happening around you and alive to what’s happening inside you. Beyond your busy mind you experience life in high definition.
High-definition living is a way to engage in the world with all your senses. It feels crisp and clear. It’s like seeing life as if you were a child again, when you stared at clouds in the sky and devoured books and movies (along with cookies and candy) with gusto. Directly experience life in high definition, and you recognize the smallest details of life—the touch of wind tickling your neck and the smell of wood burning from the fireplace next door.
Now, decades after my final college race, I still vividly remember the details. I clearly remember calmly standing on the starting line waiting for the gun to go off, the smell of spring in the air, and how my spikes felt on the track. I remember everything about that moment—the high-definition experience that redirected my life.
You have your own high-definition moments. Can you think of a few? Perhaps it was the intense emotional high when you got married or the profound disappointment when you didn’t get the job. Sometimes these moments are easy to identify, and sometimes they’re not as clearly defined. Strengthen your ability to recognize direct experience in the ordinary moments of daily life, and they all go into high definition. The practices you’re learning will help you do so—to refine and expand your ability to recognize such high-definition, high-voltage experiences all of the time.
Trying to explain what it means to directly experience life in high definition is like trying to explain how it feels to swim in a cold lake or sing in front of a crowd. It goes beyond words and explanations. As you become more aware of these experiences, you’ll ultimately recognize high-definition moments from more of a visceral place, in your body and beyond words.
This is important. Remember, your body always experiences the moment directly. Your body senses life firsthand beyond your beliefs, judgments and conditioning. Your body reveals what’s real and true. This is why direct experiences feel precise and complete, and why they often emerge with a resounding “aha.”
Because descriptions, even extended ones, cannot capture your whole experience, I’ll offer Snapshots, groups of individual words that can serve as instantaneous reminders of the direct experiences in your life. Not every word is going to work for you. My aim is that at least one or two will connect with you. Read these words slowly. Find the ones that resonate. Let them sink in. Draw from these Snapshots in your daily life. They provide you with words to help you recognize your direct experiences.
Snapshot: A high-definition experience
» Clear » Brilliant » Alive » Bright » Sharp » Ready » Awake » Open
» Aware » Alert » Light » Vibrant
Experiencing life with high-voltage energy
There’s a powerful energy running through you right now. You can sense it when you’re resting or when you’re moving. Sometimes you may not feel it at all. When you’re engaged in what you’re doing, you experience it. When you’re hiking, painting, reading, or writing, you feel it. It feels like having the wind at your back and a little extra spring in your step. This high-voltage energy is your aliveness.
High-voltage energy guides you to move and speak. It directs you to slow down and pay attention or encourages you to lean into your boundaries and seek new horizons. Either way, this energy pushes you gently, and sometimes not so gently, to wake up, show up, and participate in life right here and right now.
You’ve had moments of high-voltage energy; you may simply not have recognized them at the time. Here are a few examples of what high-voltage energy feels like for me:
- Seeing the brilliance of the sun as it hits the top of the trees in the late afternoon
- Hearing the giggles of my neighbour’s kids in the backyard
- Tasting the crispness of a green apple
- Listening deeply to my friend recount a recent crisis
- Belting out a song during my commute home
- Flying down the hill on my bike
Here’s a Snapshot offering you a variety of ways that you may experience high-voltage energy.
Snapshot: A high-definition experience
» Excited » Powerful » Charged » Determined » Available » Enthusiastic » Strong
» Connected » Fearless » Confident » Curious
Brand-new students walk through the doors of Verge Yoga every day, often with a hint of apprehension as they step onto a yoga mat for the first time. As class begins, they try to breathe deeply and move slowly. The sweat starts to flow, their bodies relax, and their minds settle. At the end of class, they take the final pose, savasana, a sweet five-minute rest.
This final pause, in stillness, allows students to let go and relax. In this space many students experience sensations they haven’t felt in years. It often brings them to tears. They feel their body come alive, buzzing and tingling from head to toe. They directly experience a profound sense of ease and peace.
This experience is not random. These students are meeting themselves beyond distraction and drama, and the next time they practice, they will likely experience it again. You can experience this too, and you never need to step onto a yoga mat to do so.
There’s no mistaking high-definition, high-voltage living; experiencing it often stops me in my tracks and makes me pay attention. One such full-sensory encounter happened years ago when I hiked up Mount Cardigan in New Hampshire with friends. Unbeknownst to me, we took the “most challenging” route. Lagging behind the group, I found myself face-to-face with a steep wall of rock, on a cliff no less. Attempting this climb without gear was above my level of expertise, but being the knucklehead that I am, I decided to go for it anyways. As I placed my hands and feet on the sheer rock, my body visibly shook. Step-by-step I climbed, never daring to look down. Although the climb didn’t take long, it felt as though it lasted forever.
Finally, I made it to the top and dropped to my knees, dramatically tossing my backpack out of the way. My friends, who had obviously been there a while, casually glanced at me and smiled. It was clear they had no idea what I’d just endured (and I wasn’t about to tell them either!). Still shaking and panting, I stretched out on my back and tried to recover.
As I settled down, I noticed a pulsing, a sort of tingling in my arms and legs that spread to my spine and shoulders, then to my head. I felt this wave of energy pulsating from my feet to my face! I felt the sun on my skin, heard the whistle of the wind. I smelled the sweet scent of early spring floating in the air. My body was a symphony of sensations buzzing at high voltage. My senses had lit up, in high definition. I felt fully alive.