After a very popular launch last year, Meditation on the Beach has returned.

A group of people gathered to meditate on the Hay River Beach In August 2019. The meditation sessions — a collaboration between the Town of Hay River and Community Counselling — have begun for this year.
NNSL file photo

The meditation sessions were scheduled to reume at the Hay River Beach on July 30 and will take place every Thursday until Aug. 27.

“It went really well last year,” said Jon Hunt, who guides the meditations. “We had a fairly decent turnout. I think on average there were about 10 people, some days less, some days more. It had grown into quite the following.”

Hunt is a mental health and addictions counsellor with Community Counselling of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.

Meditation on the Beach is presented by Community Counselling and the Town of Hay River.

“We started it as a one-off and it appeared as if that was something that people were asking for us to continue, and we decided to follow suit,” said Hunt.

Last year’s sessions ran from mid-July to September.

Hunt noted that the Hay River Beach is a special place to meditate.

“I think the setting brings an added element to it, for sure,” he said. “There’s a lot of times people will do guided meditations where they imagine themselves on a beach. And here we are with a beautiful beach that we can actually access. It’s very grounding hearing the sounds of the seagulls and the birds and the water, and the smells. All the senses are kind of engaged, would probably be a good way to say it.”

Plus, the beach setting makes it very easy for him to facilitate the sessions, he said.

“Because I just say, ‘Pay attention to your surroundings.'”

Hunt explained there are a number of benefits to meditation, depending on the person.

“I think it can help relieve stress,” he said. “It can help a person pay attention to the moment and connect with what’s happening in the here and now, which can take some of the pressure off of worrying about the future or worrying about the past. It can help with concentration and it can help with mental clarity.”

Hunt said there are also a plethora of health benefits.

“It’s helpful to lower blood pressure and reduce chronic pain,” he said. “People find it’s helpful to sleep.”

Unlike many other activities these days, there are not many adjustments in light of Covid-19 that have to be made for Meditation on the Beach.

“We’re outdoors,” Hunt said, noting that up to 50 people can gather outdoors under Covid-19 restrictions. “And I don’t foresee 50 people coming out. And people can take space as they need it, and if some people are more comfortable to have more space, they’re welcome to it. There’s ample space out there. I haven’t looked at the condition of the beach this year, but I’m sure we can find a spot.”

The sessions — from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursdays — are free, and newcomers to meditating are welcome.

Participants are encouraged to bring outdoor essentials and something on which to sit — a yoga matt, towel, cushion, or lawn chair. Or, they can sit in the sand.

“There’s no right or wrong way,” said Hunt. “You can lie down on the beach. There’s no need to be like a statue of Buddha.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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