Keep Your Mind In The Boat

(Today’s article is by guest writer KaZ Akers. For a brief bio, see below.)

I’m writing from a borrowed PC somewhere between Barking Sands and Kalaheo, Hawaii. 

Where? Exactly. Why? Early this morning a cup of coffee was accidentally “catapulted” onto my MacBook Air. I got the kiss of death on the computer screen: a white folder with a black question mark in it.

What does that mean?  Au revoir, MacBook Air.

After it was dried out with a hair dryer it turned on for a moment. Now? Zip. Zilch. Zero.

To say I’m frustrated because most of the last 15 years of my professional and personal life was on that computer, is an understatement. I hadn’t backed it up to an external hard drive or to the cloud for over a year. I wasn’t using that particular laptop much, except to cross reference information with my desktop and occasionally write while on the road. It’s my oversight for not backing it up with a vengeance every week.

There are no Apple stores for many, many miles from where I’m staying. That store is on another island…a plane ride away.  My trip was purposefully off the beaten trail. So far off that there is no village for miles. 

First and foremost, hindsight is better than no sight at all.  My laptop was not synced with my desktop like my iPhone and iPad.

How I overlooked that is operator error, and needless to say, I’m less than thrilled. That being said I can’t be too angry because it was an accident. 

Enter a good lesson for staying present and understanding that the moment you go on autopilot things like this can happen. We go through our day, often mindlessly executing tasks, allowing our minds to drift, and then BAM. 

It’s essential to keep files backed up and do our best to make allowances for hiccups. Or big, ugly burps.

No-one wants to lose precious photos of events, memories, or  important documents. Let my misfortune be your forewarning. Back it up.

The big takeaway? Keep liquids a mile away from your electronics and, most importantly, don’t check out.

The mantra for the 1936 U. S. Olympic rowing team was: “Keep your mind in the boat”.  They did it so well that they won gold! In other words: stay present, aware and engaged. No matter where you are in life, your age, or stage you can always improve your awareness. 

How do we do this?

We take the time to get in touch with our breath and to consciously breathe in and out of our nose. We close our eyes (if safe to do so), or keep them open and focused on a point, or keep them partially closed, and breathe.

We have the ability to connect with the breath almost anywhere, almost anytime.  Driving in our car, standing in line, sitting in traffic, working on our computers/tablets/cellphones… there is always an opportunity to access our breath.  

Two of the best mantras, or sayings, I use when I find myself not being attentive or realizing time has gone by and I am daydreaming, ruminating, or “spacing out” are:

“Here, Now.”

Or

“Just Now.”

When I “snap out of it”, I repeat one of these two mantras to myself to remind myself not only that my mind is wandering but my attentiveness is wandering.  

One of my favorite ways to do this is to step outside in my backyard, look at my trees or up at the sky and breathe, then repeat: “Here, Now” to myself in rhythm with my breath. Anywhere you are able to access nature is a great time to access being present. 

Breathe In:  Here Breathe Out: Now.

…and do your best to “Keep Your Mind In The Boat”.

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The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.

SNS strives to include diverse voices within the spectrum of naturalistic spirituality. Authors will vary in their opinions, terms, and outlook. The views of no single author therefore necessarily reflect those of all Spiritual Naturalists or of SNS.
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Brief Bio
I’m a six-time certified master meditation teacher and have been teaching in person and online for twenty-three years. 

I take an open-minded, often light-hearted approach to meditation and mindfulness and avoid terms such as can’t, can, do, don’t, must, shouldn’t. (I’m an advocate of not “should-ing” on ourselves!)

I’m pleased to have this opportunity to write for The Spiritual Naturalist Society. In the future, I plan to provide articles on meditation and mindfulness. You will probably be familiar with some of the meditation exercises I present and some may be less conventional. 

Expect future articles that emphasize meditation in nature, and the beneficial qualities of nature and meditation for our emotional, psychological, mental, and physical health. I’ll share the information I’ve acquired from years of practice, study, and teaching. Hopefully, you’ll find my writing accessible, thought-provoking, or informative. 

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