Add a Touch of Danger (and Mindfulness) to Your Sport

When it comes to high-risk sports, focus is essential. Lara Wozniak explains.

By Lara Wozniak

For years, my colleagues at magazines I’ve worked for have clearly questioned my sanity. Why would I choose to climb into a sea kayak, as narrow as my hips, and race it in the open ocean, down waves stacked taller than me for ten or more miles? Ironically, the answer is: add a touch of danger to preserve my sanity.

The key to any high-risk sport is focus: Whether it’s surf ski paddling, which is what I race, or rock climbing, surfing or solo sailing, staying in the moment is essential.

No matter what is happening in my family, social or work life, when I get out on the water I can do only one thing: think about what I’m doing. If my mind wanders, I’m no longer sitting on top of my surf ski, I’m swimming. That’s an amusing thing to watch and even do: every once in a while, even the most experienced paddlers, will fall in—usually this is when they are sitting in calm water without a ripple, when there’s no reason to think they might flip. Then, suddenly, plop! The paddler is in the water, having lost concentration for a moment. Do that…