We are in the midst of a 21-day mindfulness challenge AND mindfulness is also one of the attributes of our character quality focus this month of Honoring Oneself. Soooo we are learning, discussing, practicing and teaching each other in this area. We are all finding that BEing in the moment, noticing what is around us and what we are thinking, doing, saying, feeling, etc. is what makes us feel truly alive and present in each moment.
In this spirit of mindfulness, we set out Thursday morning before dawn on a mindful kayak trek. We all agreed that we would be quiet and just notice with our senses and with our inner selves all that nature would gift us on our journey. Everyone was so cooperative with our intention. Yeah! There were several times as I gazed at students that I would see them gently drifting with paddles down and really drinking in all that was around them. My heart was touched.
What doesn’t show in the photos was that there was a very hefty mist arising from the river. At times we could just see only 15-20 feet in front of us. Sometimes I could just see a head of a student arising from the mist, and see only a faint vision of his or her kayak. It was SO quiet and it felt as though the river was beckoning us onward, and we trusted it as we paddled into the mist.
We were amidst swans, muskrats, geese, ducks, and even a heron over head, reflections that still shone on the misty water of tall trees at the rivers edge, and reeds and cattails standing silently nearby. We stopped several times to nod to each other in silent agreement that this was indeed a special experience. We formed some half circles and grasped a buddy’s kayak to stay still as we watched the moon so bright behind us and then the magnificent, but oh so gentle, sunrise ablaze with pinks and yellows. Just as the sun came into view, four swans glided so effortlessly on the water between us and the sun. It was a sight that I know is implanted in each of our minds.
When we arrived back to our lodge home, we all wrote for just a few minutes, attempting to capture on paper a bit of what we had experienced as we were awake and mindful to what was around us that morning. Below are some smatterings of our collection of memories that give some glimpses of the experiences of our morning.
- the moon saying goodbye and the sun saying hello; swans floating; swans gliding so peacefully; silent and gentle swaying of river grasses; so many colors in the sky…where were they before?; calm water.
- curved necks of swans; misty journey; mist rising from a winding river; peruvian-hatted heads rising above the mist; frosty lily pads; night moon watching the sun show its colors; four serene swans floating in a royal procession; frosty fingers grasping a chilled paddle handle; a lone swan leading us home; water droplets; dripping from paddle tips; bubbles floating and bumping into each other; remnants of yesterday’s wind skidding on the water’s surface; early morning fogged reflections on the river; hazy pictures of the trees painted on the river;
- reds, golds, pinks—the tree’s TRUE colors showing themselves just a little at a time; a gray heron flying high overhead on a mission; the deep flutter sounds of geese flying in sync; all the shades of brown painted from the inside out on the river reeds; tall reeds standing perfectly still as we drift on by.
- mist rising; beautiful day already; moon rising up and away.
- sunrise; jumping fish; moon is going bye bye; people in different colored kayaks; mistiness of the fog; drop dead still water; frosty air; beauty; wonderful, amazing green trees; little miss sunshine; “Be.YOU.tiful” written on our sweatshirts; the sky is a painting; bright white light; swish, swish; green, green, green; orange, orange, orange; the world is full of light.
- we watched the sun rise and the moon set together, it was beautiful; this moment is perfect and that moment was perfect; the sky was orange and the swans saw it, too; reflections on the water of the sky above; geese and herons flying by; best of all was the complete silence inside and out.
- swans moving their necks so gracefully; the sunlight is rising; the moon is still showing itself and then fading away; fog covered river and lake; sun rays poking through the clouds and fog; the night sky is fading away; morning is being born from the night; seeing the moon and the sun at the same time.
- sun god, moon god; God spilled His grapefruit juice; water and sky painting a picture together; birds early morning singing; wavy feathers of swans; calm water; paddling into the spooky mist; imagination running; happy people without words; numb fingers, needing gloves; array of geese; line of swans; head clouds; beautiful sunrise; warm water, cold air; smooth river clay; squawking geese.
- moon setting in the mist; swans watching the sunrise; saturated colors reflecting on the water; chilly mist floating on the breeze; a swan leading us on our journey; autumn colors in the sunrise, full moon in the predawn sky; a kingfisher hunting for his breakfast; birds resting in the bulrushes; skimming through water lilies; paddles slicing the water; cruising through fog clouds; clear blue sky; crimson red grape vines climbing tree trunks; fish disturbing the glossy surface; mist falling over the weir.
It was truly a gift for us all, as is EACH time we take even just a moment to feel the kinship and beauty of nature and with each moment. We’d love to have you join us in our STLC 21-day mindfulness challenge at Kind Spring.
Tien Stone Langlois, Scholars Together Learning Community