Meditating on the beach in Hay River

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If you think about it, the Hay River Beach is a great place to meditate.

And a group of people are finding that out for themselves.

In mid-July and again on Aug. 1, they gathered to meditate while sitting on the sand, surrounded by driftwood, and listening to the sounds of seagulls and the water on Great Slave Lake.

A group of people gathered Aug. 1 to meditate on the Hay River Beach. The meditation session – a collaboration between the Town of Hay River and Community Counselling – began in mid-July and will take place again on Aug. 8 and Aug. 15.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The unique meditation initiative is a collaboration between the Town of Hay River and Community Counselling of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.

The sessions, which will also take place on Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, are led by Jon Hunt, a mental health and addictions counsellor with Community Counselling.

Hunt said the meditation sessions allow people to sit on the south shore of Great Slave Lake and just be part of it, appreciate it and connect with it.

“It’s really about nourishing and replenishing ourselves,” he said.

Hunt was asked if the location – in the sand surrounded by driftwood – helps the meditation process.

“That question is difficult to answer because I think it’s subjective,” he said. “It’s probably different for everybody. However, saying that, I think it’s sometimes easier to connect to the moment.”

Being outdoors, a person is really immersed in the moment, he explained. “There’s sounds and there’s sensations, whether it’s the wind or the temperature. It captures a person’s attention and the attention often moves from the mind to just being present with what’s happening around a person. I would believe that for a lot of people it’s easier to just fully immerse themselves in their surroundings and meditate on what they’re experiencing in that moment.”

Hunt said people have no doubt meditated on the beach before.

“As far as a collaborative effort between Community Counselling and the town, it’s definitely a first,” he said.

Hunt noted he and Dale Loutit, the town’s recreation programmer supervisor, came up with the idea of meditating on the beach during a brainstorming session.

The first session in mid-July was supposed to be a one-time thing.

Jon Hunt, a mental health and addictions counsellor with Community Counselling, is facilitating meditation sessions on the Hay River Beach.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

“The turnout wasn’t great because it was really windy,” said Hunt, noting five people participated. “But those who showed up really enjoyed it and kind of planted the seed for us to do it more often.”

So the three sessions in August were added, and nine people showed up on Aug. 1.

One of those people was Anna Crosman, who was trying meditation for the first time.

“It’s always been in my mind,” she said. “I just haven’t really had time to go, but I was encouraged this time and, of course, I work casual for the Rec Centre at the town. So I was there to help out, as well.”

Crosman enjoyed her first experience meditating and the setting of the beach.

“Actually, it was perfect,” she said. “The surroundings were perfect. It was nice and calm, and I hardly heard any vehicle noise or recreational vehicle noise. So it was nice. It wasn’t buggy. Nice, cool breeze. And you could hear the water.”

Crosman said she absolutely will be going back for more meditating.

Hunt also noted anyone who is curious about meditating can participate in the two upcoming sessions.

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