Water has the power to renew our spirit, connecting us directly with the rhythm and flow of the natural world.
Self-care: what my clients will tell you that I am constantly reminding them to make a priority. And what most of us choose to put to the last—if we have time. I try to end many of my sessions with an elicited promise of what the self-care would be. And I am trying harder to “practice what I preach”, as we all have stress in our lives, perhaps some unprocessed or unresolved grief, and usually much more work than play. So I want to, in a few articles, discuss some of the things I do in my search to help revitalize my energies and soothe my spirit.
I have a couple horses, and l love to ride, but that is another article, as is hiking, writing, and reflecting. This article is more about my search for peace and relaxation in the summer. I have always loved to canoe and usually did so several times a year. Last year I bought a kayak. And some friends and I became weekend paddlers. It is a relatively cheap sport; I bought one new, with paddle, for slightly over $200; the other was a little over $400 and we were able to go almost every weekend on some river in Nebraska. We “ran” the Republican several times, as well as the South Loup and the Middle Loup. I especially love the spring-fed Calamus River, as it is always full enough. And the Niobrara is great if you are up for a drive north. Now you have to be careful about when and where, but we have had very few mishaps, especially for beginners. And we have always had some stories to tell when we return.
We bought recreational kayaks, which are short (not as short as some whitewater kayaks) but wide for stability. One of mine is 9’6” and the other just at 10 feet long. Both weigh under 40 lbs., which is nice for loading at the end of the day. And if you run the Republican and Loup Rivers a week after the water level drops, you will occasionally have to drag through sand if the river is wide or you aren’t paying careful attention.
With a couple bottles of water, a bag of trail mix (sandwiches if you are planning a longer trip) and sandals and sunscreen, you are pretty much ready to get wet. Well, actually, you really don’t have to get very wet. We paddled the Calamus in October last fall and only dipped our feet in when we were at the end. But we did choose to get wet many hot summer days. And transportation—we have loaded 7 of them in the back of a pick-up truck to take to our destination—is also easy.
So why does kayaking help to soothe the spirit? Well, the minute you glide into the water, dip your paddle in, and sit back, as one of my friends said, “The week just disappears”. It is you and the river and whatever flora and fauna you see. We often spread out, so even talking is at a minimum. Over Memorial Day we paddled a stretch of the Republican River and I saw geese and goslings, ducks and ducklings, two red-tailed hawks, a muskrat, raccoons, frogs, a fat old bull snake, fish, numerous other birds, and more deer than I could count. For the second time I paddled upon a fawn; this one got up and ran. Last year the new born lay there while I floated past. I did not dip my paddle in as I did not want to spook her. Those are magical moments and all the stress and worry of the week just floats away. I can paddle hard if I want to, catch the current and drift, or do a combination. Sometimes I float backwards, getting a whole different perspective of the river.
Returning to nature and being one with her allows us to touch the inside of ourselves again. We become closer to our natural state when unencumbered with all of the expectations put on us by others. The only expectation on the river is to be respectful of the nature you see and hear, and to let yourself breathe and enjoy the peace. It is quiet, with sounds of the river, animals and birds, and an occasional unidentified sound in the brush along the river. I love when the breeze is blowing slightly and the “talking trees” (cottonwood) are speaking to me. I forget all that happened in the past weeks; I give myself up to the solace and let the river comfort me. I let the worries and grief flow out into the river and open my heart to accepting what needs to come in. I let my spirit “plug in” to those natural energies and turn myself over to that moment, lots of moments really; this time becomes a magical resurgence and reconnecting to the life force.
That is what the river, being on the river, being one with nature, does for me. I hope each person can find something similar to be comforted, to find solace, to let your spirit rest and then soar. And when you leave, take your trash and leave your worries.
And next is the hike up Harney Peak, the center of the world according to the Indians, and a magical place itself.Tags: seeking solace through kayaking, self care with kayaking, using nature to refresh
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Professional Counselor
Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist
- Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.
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