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Long Paddle Prep: Breaking Coconuts & Heroin

How do you get ready for an epic paddle? Breaking coconuts of course...

Sorry, it's misleading about breaking coconuts; I'm sure you're wondering what heroin has to do with it?

It was timely that a friend returned my book I had loaned her and as I started re-reading it I was reminded about the importance of ceremony before a big journey or life moment.

Puja ceremonies are performed as a blessing or asking for safe passage. They are often performed at the base of Mount Everest asking the mountain for its blessing to climb it safely.

Nand Narine is not only the author of the book above but also a lecturer, professor and yoga instructor trainer; he someone you want to be around with his infectious smile and kind eyes. Through correspondence a date was set that worked for both of our schedules to perform a ceremony.

Initially, the thought was to have it at The Athabasca River however the timing didn't work. I offered to come to Edmonton instead where The North Saskatchewan River flows and is the river I grew up on, so the ties run deep here as well.

Meeting just below the Edmonton Convention Center accessing the river is tough with the boardwalks and railing. We began the ceremony at a picnic table above the river, with my daughter along for the experience.

The three bottles of Athabasca River water I collected were used and as we poured them out suddenly a man on a bike stopped near us. He asked what we were doing? Nand said "Have you ever seen such a big coconut before?"...I won't share his reply but he insinuated that he had way bigger coconuts but it was an R rated show then.

I smiled, my 18 year old daughter palpably nervous looked up at me. As we chatted with this obviously very high person we reassured him it was all good his being there as he suddenly had clarity on being part of something bigger.

As he joked initially about heroin and having his knives stolen (actually) he laid out on the table a foot from us away his of the ones used to stab people not a pocket knife. Still all was cool, he just didn't have a bad feeling from him. Nand being calm and kind kept him interested to the point he participated in the blessing ceremony.

The time had come to crack open the coconut. Cracking of the coconut symbolizes breaking the ego. The hard shell of ego and ignorance is broken to give way to knowledge and purity. Ideally the coconut should crack in two halves bestowing good fortune on the journey ahead.

Nand looks at our new friend as he pulls out the machete type knife to crack the coconut and says in Crocodile Dundee fashion: "That's not a knife mate, this is a knife." I nearly fell over laughing, we all did.

Now if you can believe it, our visitor is chatting away about Buddhism when he suddenly says "I have something for this."; he pulls out of his pocket a packet of sandalwood incense...seriously? Who is this guy lol. He lights an incense stick and plants it on the table as he continues to ask questions and participate with us.

A Raksasutra is a bracelet of protection against misfortune. During the ceremony Nand ties it on my wrist to ensure I have smooth paddling ahead.

Honestly, whether you believe in the power of prayer or intention it is what we put into those beliefs that matter. I feel a safe space around me especially knowing it comes from someone with pure intention.

Finally, we part ways as Nand says to him "Have a good life, I have a feeling things will get better for you". He replies that he sure hopes so...

We climb down to the rivers edge and meld the two waters together and as we walk back to the vehicles together we both chuckle about the experience. You literally couldn't imagine the events that unfolded.

Whatever the meaning behind our random visitor who joined us was, there are no coincidences. I am thankful he joined and brought his energy to the table; literally and figuratively.

Thank you for all the continued support and reaching out to connect!

Lisa Stocking

CANRVRSUP Instructor

AQ Ambassador

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