In 2001, Sharma nailed the hardest climb on earth, Realization, a 5.15a overhang in France that had stymied him 30 times before he succeeded. Surprisingly, he describes the climb as a mental, not physical, challenge. Says Sharma, "To see the whole thing, I had to be in the moment."
Sharma credits his heightened mental awareness to his daily meditation practice. "Meditation's important for balance," he says. "You need to rely on yourself to quiet the mind. I know having more of a mental calm has helped me when I try something that's very difficult. It makes you realize that you're not always going to be at your best, because when you meditate, you're paying close attention to your body and how it feels. As a result, you're at ease when things don't work out. You learn to appreciate the lows, just let them happen, learn from them, and go back and try again."