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  • Writer's picturejamesbriankerr

Zen and the Art of Kayaking

Of late I have taken up a new form of meditation.


We tend to think of meditation as a sedentary practice, done while sitting cross-legged on the floor or a chair.

But meditation can be practiced standing, or walking, even dancing.

It’s really less about the form and more about the practice of being mindful of what we’re doing and thinking right now … versus the normal human tendency of being anywhere but in the moment.

Looked at that way, any practice that serves as a gateway to present-moment awareness is part of our meditation practice, because it’s advancing us on the path of peace.

For me, nature is that gateway. Fly fishing takes me there. Hiking takes me there. Camping too.

And now kayaking.

I got into kayaking through my youngest son, who came home from college this summer yearning to do some kayaking.

I’d been talking about getting kayaks for years but never seemed to get around to it. The push from my son was what I needed to get onto Craigslist and start searching.

Before long I had a pair of barely used Wilderness Pungo 120 recreational kayaks and we were out on the water.

I am fortunate to live within ten minutes of gorgeous Nockamixon Lake in upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

In a county known for its bucolic scenery, Nockamixon is a gem. The lake is man-made but doesn’t look it.

The reservoir stretches for seven miles between Routes 313 and 611, bordered by woods and gently rolling hills, with plenty of sheltered coves for exploring.

Currents from an underwater creek keep its surface fresh. Wildlife abounds. Blue herons. Ospreys. An occasional sighting of a bald eagle.

We get out on the water early, before the day gets hot and the lake gets crowded. One of the beauties of kayaking, unlike motorized boats, is that they’re easy.

Easy to get onto the car. Easy to get launched. Easy to paddle and get around.

And when it comes to meditating, you want easy.

Something about being out on a kayak – so close to the water, suspended between the twin blue mirrors of lake and sky, free of smartphone and other electronics – brings me completely into present-moment awareness.

I forget about work, bills, responsibilities, troubles and to-do lists.

Mind and body are united in a reverie of spirit.

An hour or two and I come back to the shore of life refreshed, rejuvenated, centered.

Which is exactly what a good meditation practice is all about.

Happy kayaking.

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