Unlike its ‘rock n’ roll’ full-body and mind workout cousin white water kayaking, sea kayaking is a slower, rhythmic and methodical journey through nature and certainly an immensely drier occupation. Sea kayaking is without question an excercise and we all know that excercise does a body good. physical activities of all types create endorphins boosting the brain’s neurotransmitter feel good juices. It is a stress reliever! I call this floatation therapy. Within moments of sitting in a kayak I feel a body joy. Before even a single paddle stroke this sensation kicks in. Then I begin, usually with a blast of action to get the boat in motion I pull a minor sprint off the shore and then drift for a few moments, taking it all in. The water surrounding me, the scenery and of course being in the Gulf Islands the ever-present boat traffic.
The paddle starts and a meditation of motion follows quickly. The rhythm of the thing lulling my mind away from the small troubles annoying it on land. I stop thinking period other than what I need to concern myself. Wind, waves, tides, sun, rain, boaters and wildlife. I day-dream immediately. I am separate and a whole in my mind and body unlike at any other time in my day, week or lifetime. I focus in on this single task of propelling my kayak and myself through nature in idle meditation of nothingness and everything at the same time.
I was reminded of this sensation, if briefly the other day when relaunching my wooden kayak after months of gathering dust in the workshop before a final push to rebirth it with a new look for the beginning of its second decade with me. I floated out from under a low canopy of branches from a shore line tree, ducking my head and holding my hat as I went through the rushes to open water. A gust grabbed my boat and turned me. Okay, this is the direction I will paddle. The wind at my back I began and felt that rush of floatation. The session had begun after many months off the water, and it was good!
It was something not unusual or new to me, and until this morning talking to an old friend with a head filled with ‘land-based’ troubles of his own did I realize that to an extent, I took floatation for granted. This guy needed kayaking more than he knew, and I didn’t have to try very hard to convince him he was long overdue to get back in a kayak. We both had tried it in high school and it took me twenty years to rediscover it. Will it help? Who knows, but it can’t hurt. If nothing else, after an afternoon paddling with me around some local islands will either reduce his troubles to the singular problem of finding the extra cash to fund a boat and all the extra toys that go with a kayak. Floatation Therapy 101, the first session is free!