September 4, 2020
Written by Katy Ward, Outdoor Adventure Manager
The river. Complexly magnificent. It does not matter which river; they are all majestic in their own ways. The way the water flows, the rocks that have found their places at the bottom, the trees that seem to be holding onto the edges of the banks, the fish that frequent the shallows—each aspect is individually beautiful. But, together they paint a vivid masterpiece. It seems now with our phones, screens, and constant communication that we have a harder time connecting with natural spaces. We want to take the quick picture and post about the experience. I would challenge each of you to soak up your next experience using all 5 senses. Rivers and water can be so comforting, and I hope you are able to get out on one and practice this wellness exercise!
When you come to a river edge, take a minute. Look around. Watch as the water moves around the rocks and fallen trees. See the sparkle of the sun reflecting off the river. Gaze upon the breeze as it blows through the trees and bushes. Is the water fast? Or is it a nice steady flow? Is it crystal clear or a little murky? Watch the dragonflies dart around, only resting for a moment at a time on the water’s surface. There are so many things to take in and they are all simply beautiful.
Stop. Close your eyes and just listen to the river. Hear the water trickle and bubble. Concentrate on the sounds that the wind makes blowing through the trees and rippling the water. Listen to the crickets and frogs and birds while they sing their songs. Do you hear any billowing waves? Can you hear the peace in the air? It is calming and beautiful.
Now open your eyes and listen. Do the noises change now that you can see what is causing them? Be aware of them, but do not be scared, it is all-natural.
Step into the water, ankle-deep. Feel the current against your legs. If you close your eyes, you will probably feel the power behind the river, it might even unbalance you a little bit. That is okay, bend with the flow of the water. Run your hands through the river. It will give you a brand-new understanding of being in tune with creation.
Slow your breathing down and focus on the scents. The air on the river is most likely the freshest air you have ever smelled. It is crisp and new. The smells are probably the most underrated aspect of any trip, but especially on a river. The aroma will seep into your body when truly immersed and concentrated. It will help to relieve tension and stress.
The hardest of the five senses is taste because you definitely should not drink the river water. Please do not do that. But make sure to pack food and yummy snacks for your day on the river. Slim Jims and Fruit Smiles are a fan favorite with our personal trips, and they always seem to hit a little different when on the river. Take your time eating, notice every flavor, using your taste buds to their fullest capacity.
A river can change you. It will change you if you give it the opportunity. It will push you to try new things and challenge the way that you look at the world. Look for the beauty, listen for the harmony, feel the heartbeat, smell the seasons, and taste the snacks. On your next trip, make sure to slow down and walk through each of your senses at some point, making your experience deeper and more meaningful. Capture the river for all it has to offer.