On Sunday 13th July I jumped out of a plane from 15,000 feet! Considering I have a fear of heights and don’t particularly like flying this was definitely a Feel the Fear moment for me. When we first agreed that this was an event we would do to raise funds for the Yoga Therapy Foundation I mindlessly agreed that yes I’d do this, and perhaps didn’t really believe that it would come off, but it did. I can now reflect that this was indeed an amazing experience, but I can’t say it was one I enjoyed.
I used all of my Feel the Fear techniques and a constant extended exhale to keep me relaxed (stimulating rest and digest rather than the fight or flight reflex). And even though I can’t say I enjoyed it I am incredibly proud of the fact I did it. Nothing can ever be as scary again as standing in the door of the plane knowing that was the point of no return.
So, the day dawned, not a fabulous forecast, lots of rain across the country and cloud covering much of the local area. We were originally supposed to be there to jump at 1pm but heard not to set off because of the weather so we were just hanging around at home waiting to hear if we were to go, and then we got the message to head over the Humber Bridge!
We headed off and were hopeful (I think) that we were actually going to jump, by that stage I was definitely thinking I want to do this today, as I’m ready. On arrival at Hibaldstow http://www.skydiving.co.uk
we paid up, got weighed(!) and then went for the training. This was a fun talk by one of the instructors. We were told that in quick cases they could do the training in two minutes and basically the instruction was ‘Don’t touch anything, we do the work’. As it happened we were given a little more training and then given a number to listen out for with which to wait our turn.
It was a busy afternoon at the airport so the planes were full. Our group didn’t all get to jump together so there was no chance to do laughter yoga as a group, but I did insist I was going to jump with Allan, and thankfully I did. We finally got to go in the late afternoon. We went and got dressed in very flattering boiler suits, hats and gloves and then made our way to the plane. I told Colin, my instructor how nervous I was and also that I do have a tendency to motion sickness, so he said he’d take a sick bag! But also that he would look after me, and even though I’d only just met him I did trust him to do just that. He has been jumping since the 1990s and is still here so I decided the odds were pretty good. Mick, Allan’s instructor was a fellow biker so promised they would have some fun.
We got a bus to the plane, a small blue one, sorry not technical, twin propeller perhaps? With a plastic door! No seats and seat belts here, just two benches that we had to straddle, very intimate and despite having only just met Colin had to sit on his knee to get strapped on! And up we go very quickly up to 10,000 feet when a group of single sky divers jumped out. The door shut again and we climbed to 15,000 feet.
During the climb Colin talked to me a little and told me this was fun, from my knowledge of fun, laughter and happiness I know that what is fun or makes one person happy is not the same for another person and I certainly wasn’t in my happy place. My happy place is on my yoga mat in Savasana doing Yoga Nidra! I was tempted to zone out and pretend it wasn’t happening, but decided I wanted to fully experience this whole madness so being mindful of my breath, kept looking out of the window and knowing that I was doing this, I could do this and I had the courage to do this.
Then it was our time, I watched Allan and Mick shuffle forward to the door, asked Mick to look after him and then they were gone and it was my turn. We shuffled forwards to the door, I kept repeating ‘I can do this’ and ‘let go and trust’ (though that felt a bit too literal standing in the doorway) and focussed on my breathing, extended exhale all the way. We moved towards the door, and I saw out and realised this was it. I assumed the banana position, head leaning back on Colin’s shoulder, legs between his and he jumped, I managed not to scream or be sick (result) as we went into free-fall. I counted the number of my breaths (another part of my coping technique) as we dropped at a rate of something like 120 miles per hour downwards (22 quite fast, think I was a bit nervous…). Colin then opened the parachute and we were yanked upwards and the silence was amazing. I managed to look around, I had a scary moment when Colin undid the bottom hooks from our hips so he could control the landing better, I’d forgotten they’d told us that in training! He took off my goggles so I could see better, not really needed, I didn’t see the Humber Bridge though!
We landed safely, on my bum, and once we were detached I tried to stand but had to stay on the floor for a little while to recover, my legs were like jelly, but by then I had a big smile on my face.
As I said I am incredibly proud of my achievement, but it did take some prior work to change my mindset from the initial self-talk of ‘I’m terrified’ “I can’t do this’ to be able to even get on the plane. I can safely say I could do it again if the need ever arose but I have no intention of doing so!
Allan on the other hand is already planning his next jump for next year! I’ll be the supportive wife but with my feet on the ground!
Pictures – with thanks to my Dad! Me coming into land. Very happy to have both feet back on the ground. Proud moment!