I’ve waxed rhapsodic about many things in this space. Typically, those magical places and activities and sights have all been related to wilderness, the outdoors — and usually the ocean, sailing and surfing.
But there’s another part of my life that often provides more peace and joy than any other. And people are usually shocked when I say: “Hockey is the most Zen thing in my life.”
It’s true, especially this winter where there’s been so little surf and even less wilderness time. Instead, my weekly Friday-night skates in Exeter, New Hampshire, have been an exercise in pure ecstatic expression.
I’m not a particularly good hockey player but I know what’s going on during the game. And that’s the ultimate source of the Zen-like state I achieve while playing: that in-the-moment existence where the mind is silent and the body just acts and reacts to what’s going on around it. When I’m skating (especially with a high-quality group like the one in Exeter), that internal mental dialogue that’s prevalent 24/7 in the human mind goes silent. The discussion ceases and that pure animal mind takes over. It’s an all-too-brief bit of quiet that I cherish.
I first got into yoga after reading a book by Ram Dass in which he pointed out that if you were a really active person then seated meditation was going against your true nature and wouldn’t be effective (at least at first). He recommended active meditations such as yoga, whirling and dance as a more appropriate entry point to seeking awakening for such people. I would offer that dancing on skates on ice, chasing a little rubber disc, has been the method by which I’ve gotten closest to an awakened state. The great thing is: it’s a never-ending quest and I look forward to “meditating” at the hockey rink for the rest of my life.