Breathing, Part 1: In the Kayak

I’m horrible at meditating – In fact, while I was just meditating, I kept trying to write this blog post in my head.  Which is not what meditating is all about.

Lately, I’ve been meditating on my breath, because everyone breathes, right?  But in spite of all the reading & research I’ve done, it’s hard to know if it’s making any difference in my day-to-day life.  Do you ever feel that way?  Like you’re doing something because people have told you it’s good for you, but you aren’t sure ….

And then, I was in a kayak.  A 10′ kayak.  At a broad place in the St. Lawrence River, the Canadian side, several islands away from our cottage on Hay Island.  What had seemed like a nice break in the weather turned into only a temporary reprieve, and now I was in shorts and a tank top and a life jacket, and the sun was hiding and the temps were dropping and the winds were picking up and the rain started to fall and it was getting dark.  None of this is good news on this river in May, when weather is temperamental and can turn in an instant.  I was scared.

And then, I remembered to breathe.  Well, I hadn’t ever forgotten, I just decided to be intentional about breathing.  Inhale as you paddle right, exhale as you paddle left.  Inhale paddle right, exhale paddle left.  What was I scared of?  Inhale-paddle; exhale-paddle.  Thanks to yoga my arms were strong.  I wasn’t ever going to be far from shore, even if it wasn’t MY shore.  Inhale-paddle; exhale-paddle.  Sure it was getting cold – very cold, but only cold enough I was uncomfortable – not life-threatening cold.  Even if the wind tipped me, again, I wasn’t ever far from a shore.  Inhale-paddle; exhale-paddle.  No need to panic – which would rob me of the deep breaths keeping me calm, and make my heart race even faster, which would not help me paddle any faster.  Inhale-paddle; exhale paddle.

And then, I was back.  Safe and sound.  And I realized – Huh!  Maybe there IS something to the practice of meditation after all!  No matter how bad a meditator I am, I think I’ll keep at it a little longer.

The St. Lawrence on a calmer summer day

The St. Lawrence on a calmer summer day


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