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Mind Over Matter
Today, as our lifestyles get more and more hectic every day — dominated by schedules, deadlines, and technology —sometimes we need to take a step back.
We need to take time to appreciate different perspectives on life. Embrace opportunities for our mind and body to cope with new challenges. Experience the world from diverse cultures and climates.
These experiences often make us stronger when we return to our daily routines. One such journey — trekking to Everest base camp — incorporated physical and mental challenges.
Along the way, I witnessed the hardships and achievements of the local community living in such hostile conditions.
As fellow hikers know, if you want to conquer a mountain, physical fitness is only half of the battle. You may spend a lot of time improving your strength and endurance, but you also need to make sure you are mentally resilient.
Having hiked Mount Whitney (14,500 feet) twice, I thought I had some idea what might be in store. I was about to be surprised.
Starting from Lukla (known as one of the world's most dangerous airports), we hiked 8 to 10 hours a day. It was fascinating to witness life in the small local villages.
As the nine-day trek unfolded, we witnessed the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas. Along the way, we paid respect to those who perished while climbing the magnificent peaks. Fatalities have sadly risen as more people take on the challenge.
For me, it was not only an unmatched opportunity to explore nature, but also a chance to experience another culture up close. In Namche Bazaar, we hiked past a school with only rudimentary facilities. The kids walk several miles each day in treacherous terrain to reach their school.
Giving back has always been one of Cisco’s core values. Helping kids in remote villages in their struggle to exercise their basic right to education was another reason I took this trip to Nepal.
Using Cisco’s Time2Give, I met with the school principal and the kids to understand their needs and to give back to their community, which welcomes hikers from all over the world. We also donated over $200 to Shree Himalaya Basic School so they could buy stationery for their kids.
Throughout my journey, I used the coaching that I received from the Cisco Mindset program. It helped me stay focused, calm, and mindful on the hike.
The body is severely taxed while hiking eight days in frigid temperatures at high altitude. As the saying goes, “Train the mind, and the body will follow.” It was definitely mind over matter when I reached Everest Base Camp (17,600 feet) last April 1.
With each step, as I gasped for breath, the practice sessions during the mindfulness coaching came to my rescue. Although I wanted to give up, I was able to stay focused as we approached the base camp and walked on the glacier in a snowstorm.
All is not glorious as we seek new challenges and push our limits. We’ve all seen images of the hundreds of climbers stuck on the final approach to the Mount Everest summit.
On my trek to the base camp, I came across hikers who got terribly sick. They were lucky to be successfully evacuated by trained guides and Sherpas. Such incidents keep me grounded and help me admire and respect nature for what it is.
I received encouragement and support from my manager and my team. They were extremely enthusiastic when they found out I was going to attempt this feat.
I strongly believe that being a Cisco employee is not just about innovating technologies and pursuing excellence in our work. It’s also about giving back to our community. And whether it’s at work or on a mountain, we should always try to “take a bold step,” one of Our Principles at Cisco.
I live in San Jose with my wife and two kids. I joined Cisco in 2011, working on management software for various products. I’m now an engineer in the Insieme Business Unit. I love to ski, run, and hike with my family. I got serious about trekking four years ago when I climbed Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S. My wife is also a keen hiker. She has reached the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Shasta. She suggested that I embark on my first international trek in the Himalayas. How or from who do you find inspiration and motivation?
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