For many years, I have started my mornings with a half an hour of mindfulness mediation. I started this practice as a way to combat all too frequent migraine headaches. It quickly became apparent that daily meditation reduced both the number and intensity of my headaches, so it has become engrained into my daily routine. Added benefits include increased patience, and an increased ability to handle stressful situations, especially when I supplement my morning mediation with regular mini-meditation stress reduction techniques throughout my day, as needed.
Last week, I had the wonderful pleasure of joining my friend, Lenny, on a sea kayak trip in the French River Provincial Park. One of the challenges of being out of my home environment is how to keep up with my daily meditation. Fortunately, as with my family at home, I happened to rise earlier than Lenny each morning and had the opportunity to engage in some unique mediation settings.
While meditating, I was able to reflect on Lenny’s gracious comments as we started out on our trip that he was glad that I patiently waited as he methodically organized our gear for our week long trip.While in earlier years, I was not well known for my patience, meditation has helped me appreciate the beauty of my present circumstances and allowed me to stay patient while that beauty unfolds each day, especially when surrounded by the stunning nature in Northern Ontario.
Lenny has far more experience sea kayaking than I do, and he also knows the area very well, having paddled there previously. In addition, he is an excellent navigator, enabling us to navigate the thousands of small islands and channels in the park. I gladly ceded my typical leadership traits to become his follower as we paddled about 100 miles throughout the park.
On the 3rd day of our trip, we ran into some challenging moments. Despite being informed at the visitor center that there were no portages on the French River, we ran into 2 sets of rapids that our sea kayaks are not designed to handle, requiring us to completely unload our gear and carry both our gear and our kayaks across the rough terrain. At the 2nd portage, I believed I could shorten this process & make it easier by roping my kayak (fully loaded) through the rapids. Lenny was skeptical, but at this point my leadership skills kicked in and I was able to navigate my kayak by rope safely through the rapids, garnering me a small round of applause both from Lenny as well as some Canadian paddlers who were confronting the same rapids and portaging behind us.
By the end of that day, we reached the mouth of the French River as it enters the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. Unfortunately, by that time the rain began to fall and the sun was going down, requiring us to find a campsite for the night. Lenny’s navigation skills enabled us to find a good campsite, but we were still faced with the challenge of setting up camp and cooking dinner in the rain. At this point, we turned into a highly efficient team. Lenny quickly set up his tent, while I quickly set up a tarp to give us a dry area to cook dinner and keep our gear dry. On 2 mornings, I meditated while standing under the tarp to keep dry.
Towards the end of our trip, we entered the Key River, and my patience coupled with our teamwork and shared leadership enabled us to navigate the entire distance successfully even arriving at our destination at the end of the headwaters of the Key River a day early. Lenny commented a few times that he was glad that my meditation improved my patience.
This enabled us to enjoy an incredibly beautiful day trip in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Readers may wonder how this experience fits into the systems change theme of my blog. Quite simply, this trip reminded me that patience, shared leadership, and teamwork, are critical to achieving any meaningful systems change.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.