Mindfulness through Sailing

Let’s go sail the York River, where couples enjoy a serene three hours. Take one of 6 sailing adventures near the Chesapeake Bay for your best vacation excursion: Adventure, Event, Appreciation, History, Lessons, Boat Buying. Sit in the catbird seat or up on the bow.

People ask, “What is the concept of sailing? One beautiful concept of sailing is the relatively new rubric of “mindfulness.” It is defined as simply abandoning one’s worries of the day in the moment of appreciation—while under sail. Call it Zen, or call it solo sailing. Call it mindfulness through sailing, for it beats everything else on land. For a fleeting few hours, you can be all alone with your thoughts without ambition. The only challenge is to sail. 

Mindfulness is also known as FlowOther modern concepts of psychology termed this “The Zone” or “Flow.” Writers get into The Zone when they find themselves caught up in their text, moving quickly and effortlessly through hundreds of words as time zooms by.

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Athletes get into The Zone on the field with their total concentration. Musicians get into it while performing, and sometimes while practicing. Time flies and yet stands still. Contrast this experience with doing your taxes, going to the dentist, or raking leaves. Time crawls.

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“The Concept of Flow” dates to the 1970s and was updated in a paper by Jeanne Nakamura and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. They list several characteristics that apply wonderfully to sailing:

“Being in flow is the way that some describe the subjective experience of engaging just-manageable challenges. They’re tackling a series of goals, continuously processing feedback about progress, and adjusting action based on this feedback. Under these conditions, experience seamlessly unfolds from moment to moment. One enters a subjective state with the following characteristics:

One's focus is highly acute while sailing (1) Intense and focused concentration on what one is doing in the present moment. (2) Merged action with awareness. (3) Loss of reflective self-consciousness (i.e., less awareness of oneself). (4) A sense that one can control one’s actions by knowing how to respond to whatever happens. (5) It feels like time has passed faster than normal.”

This is the stuff of people who walk in the woods, like Henry Thoreau in “Walden Pond.” His tale was about simple living while contemplating life carefully. Today this presents as minimalism among people living in tiny houses, which is not the same thing. 

Another definition of mindfulness: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.”

I prefer the definition offered by mindful.org: “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Fully Present

Note that this just doesn’t happen. It’s a “basic human ability to be fully present,” in another words, actively thinking. Under sail, one’s feelings embrace graceful movement through the seas while the wind whistles through the rigging. Thoughts drift away from the daily grind into a moment of movement that is eerily quiet. It becomes second nature to brace oneself as the boat heels to 15 degrees in a brisk wind.

Here's the joy of riding the bowFor many, mindfulness requires a daily practice of yoga to reach a meditative state. Sailors just let themselves go and enjoy the experience as one with the sea. Don’t  overthink it.

Kids on cellphones do not qualify. Kids with autism do. Their capacity to concentrate is sometimes enhanced in the majestic outdoor setting of the sea.

Let’s Go on a Romantic Sail. Sit up on the bow for privacy. First-timers or skilled mariners can learn to sail fast on a cruise Near Williamsburg VA. They get to sail a modern 32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Spring foliage. Professional photos for free. Enjoy a romantic getaway. Sail the warm breezes of Spring and Summer. A unique and intriguing event, as well as an extraordinary anniversary idea.

Charles Scott of Sail Magazine put it eloquently: “This is what singlehanded sailing is all about: magical moments that fill the senses, where it’s just you and the boat and the open sky. Singlehanded sailing offers a rare chance in this noisy hyper-connected world to step off the fast track, slow down, and listen to the quiet, if only for a short while.”

Again, Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi: “When absorbed in the challenges at hand, the individual achieves an ordered state of consciousness. Thoughts, feelings, wishes and action are in concert.  The notion of  [philosophical] complexity applies in a second sense as well. The flow state is intrinsically rewarding. It leads the individual to seek to replicate flow experiences. This introduces a selective mechanism into psychological functioning that fosters growth. Then as people master challenges in an activity, they develop greater levels of skill. The activity ceases to be as involving as before. In order to continue experiencing flow, they must identify and engage progressively more complex challenges.”

SailingIn the case of the solo sailor, he or she will find out quickly if he fits well with mindfulness. The impatient fellow who doesn’t contemplate life may fall well short of the optimal experience. Zen is not for him. He may discover that he doesn’t like himself very well. 

Mindfulness through Sailing need not be solo. Boat US Magazine recently recounted a story of a fellow who was about to shove off from his marina. An older gentleman happened by, so the sailor asked if he’d like to go out. He said sure. They sailed for hours in pensive silence that was neither awkward nor annoying. Afterward the man turned to the sailor and said quietly, “My wife died a year ago today. We used to enjoy sailing these waters. Thanks.”

Check out the video below by someone on You Tube identifying himself as Beezr Geezr. “Nine minutes of total peace sailing single-handed in my Bluenose 24 among the San Juan Islands. This is near Friday Harbor WA. Consider it a mood altering video for those hectic days. Just relax and enjoy!” Note the steady speed as the boat glides along. With the use of a selfie stick, the video hides the skipper from view. It feels like it’s just you on the tiller. The music makes it that much more serene.

Now doesn’t mindfulness through sailing beat yard work?

Let’s Go Sail

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Women enjoy sailing today more than ever, and particularly a romantic cruise. Couples get to enjoy a romantic getaway as they sit up on the bow for privacy, and Let’s Go Sail provides professional photos for free. First-time or skilled mariners are welcome to sail a modern-32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Fall foliage or Spring bloom. It makes for an extraordinary anniversary idea. Find happiness and health outdoors near Williamsburg with exciting fun on an anniversary or birthday. Great memories! Learn navigation to become a sailor. See birds, dolphins, maybe a Navy submarine. Bring your dog.


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