By Paula Hubbard
Recently I paddled with a friend who does meditation paddles. He told me a little about what he does and we did a few mindful moments on our paddle that day. This started me thinking. I do some meditation practice and it is usually about clearing my mind, but this was more about awareness of everything around me. Being mindful was actually enhancing my paddling experience.
Mindfulness can be helpful in improving skills with minimal effort. Focus on how your boat responds to slight shifts in body weight, be aware of how you are sitting in the kayak, where there is pressure, where you feel relaxed. Feel how
your kayak moves with the waves and how you are connected through the boat to the water. Try closing your eyes for a few moments and just feel.
You can also listen; hear the sounds the paddle makes moving through the water. Can you paddle in silence? Hear the noise of the waves splashing on the shoreline, listen for the sounds of birds or other wildlife. And breathe, count your breaths, synchronize your breath with your paddling strokes.
As we move into fall, there will be more migrating waterfowl in our rivers and creeks. This is a great season for bird watching and just being present in nature. Feel the changing season, the scent of the air and how it is different from summer. The changing of the leaves and even the shortening of the days. The air is cooler, and also the water.
Mindfulness is relaxing, adds interest to any paddle, makes you more aware of your body boat and blade, and makes you more aware of your environment.
Dancing with the Water
You can bring mindful paddling to your strokes. We typically learn strokes by being told where to put the paddle, how to position your body, how to edge and what the results should be. Instead of thinking about a checklist for doing a stroke, focus on feeling what is happening, what you are doing, and how the boat responds.
Focus on how your paddle interacts with the water. Can you move the blade through the water with no resistance? Can you feel pressure on the blade and how does your boat re- spond to this pressure? I think of this as learning to dance and your partner is the water. You don’t fight your partner; you learn to move together smoothly with control. Make up patterns, Do S-turns, make up a course paddling around any obstacles you may find. Paddle with a friend and see if you can coordinate your strokes into your own dance routine. All of this can add interest to a regular paddle and it is also a way to improve your strokes.
Fall is Here
Now that we are in mid-October, remember that we are now in what we call the shoulder season of paddling. The waters here cool off rapidly, even though the days may still be warm we remind you to dress for the water.
There is still lots of paddling that can be done, be mindful, dress for the water, paddle within your skill limits, and most of all have fun and enjoy the fall weather.
Paula M. Hubbard CPA CoordinatorShare This