yacht charterAs the sailboat glides across the shimmering San Francisco Bay, the hustle and bustle of daily life fades into stillness. The gentle splash of waves against the hull settles into a rhythmic pattern, as the tension held in your shoulders melts away. Your mind empties of its usual clutter, no longer jumping to the past or future, but instead becoming transfixed by the almost hypnotic motion of the boat as it cuts through the waves. Time seems to slow down, until all that exists is right here and now – the boat, the water, and you.  

Like meditation, sailing summons presence, oneness, tranquility, and deep connection – only the “cushion” you sit upon is a body of sparkling blue-green water. The ocean environment on a sailboat can center you just as the meditative breath anchors your awareness. In sailing, just as in meditation, awareness rests at the dynamic balance point between stillness and flow – attuning to the wind, sea and motion of the boat while suspending goal-oriented thinking, increasing  focus and awareness similar to a meditation practice. 

Sailing and meditation share a lot of similarities which means that they can  create similar physical and emotional benefits. Here are a number of keys ways they overlap and enhance our lives:

Calming effect: Both sailing and meditation can induce a sense of calm by focusing your attention on the present moment – feeling the motion of the boat or wind and waves.  Being out on the water, away from distractions and feeling the motion of the boat can be very soothing and the quietness away from traffic our human noise also has a relaxing quality. . Similarly, the deep breathing and mindfulness of meditation creates tranquility.

Mental clarity:  Sailing requires focusing on managing the boat and wind conditions while meditation involves observing your thoughts non-judgmentally as they pass through your mind. Both activities require discipline which can lead to greater mental clarity and focus. Gliding through the water under sail or sitting in stillness has an almost trance-like quality that can settle scattered thoughts.Away from the usual chaos, you’re able to think more clearly. Both sailing and meditation can enhance concentration and awareness.

Mind-body connection:  Handling a boat requires coordination between your visual perceptions, muscle movements, balance and proprioception. Similarly, following the breath during meditation tunes you into the subtle physical sensations that accompany each inhalation and exhalation. Both sailing and meditating develop greater awareness of the mind-body connection.

Stress relief and creative thinking: The physiology of breathing deeply and focusing away from habitual thoughts, whether sailing or meditating, activates the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces stress. As anxiety fades, space opens up for new thoughts and insights to arise. Both activities can spark creativity by calming the mind. The natural setting and repetitive motions of sailing, along with the purposeful stillness of meditation, enable us to enter a state of reduced stress levels. The mind can take a break from its usual worries and overthinking. We emerge feeling refreshed.

Biological effects in the body:

  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Both activities require focused attention and can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, slowing heart rate and reducing blood pressure.
  • Increased alpha and theta brain waves. These brain wave patterns are associated with a state of wakeful relaxation and enhanced creativity. Meditation trains the mind to increase these waves while sailing promotes them through connection with nature.
  • Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This branch of the nervous system controls ‘rest and digest’ processes and gets activated when the body is in a calm, relaxed state. Both sailing and meditation can trigger it.
  • Release of endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals promote positive emotions and pain relief. The peace and motions of sailing alongside the mindfulness of meditation can release endorphins.
  • Reduced inflammation. By lowering stress hormones and triggering relaxation, both activities may help control systemic inflammation in the body which is linked to many chronic diseases.

Sailing and meditation synchronizes mind and body in ways that induce similar beneficial biological, emotional and cognitive benefits and changes. Both meditation and sailing enable our minds to reach similar states of restoration, presence, and connection by eliciting deep relaxation and promoting inner calm and outer connection with natural rhythms. The peace they cultivate within us, via different means, produces overlapping and compounding benefits for whole body wellness. This is the beauty and benefits of our Mindfulness Meditation + Sailing Day Retreats