If you want to feel less fearful and more confident on the river it’s worth taking the time to visualize yourself feeling good and making the moves you want to make. Visualization is a technique that’s used successfully by countless high performing athletes, but seems to be overlooked by regular enthusiasts and weekend warriors. If it works for those athletes it can work for you too!
To start, find a quiet place where you can sit by yourself and not be disturbed for 10 to 15 minutes. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and start to focus on your breath. Become aware of how your breath feels and pay attention to the spaces between your exhalations and inhalations. Breath in and out through your nose.
Once you feel relaxed imagine yourself on your favorite river about to run a rapid that challenges you or maybe that you’ve never run before. See yourself taking deep breaths in the eddy and relaxing. Now focus on a thought of gratitude for the skills that you have, for the opportunity to be on the river — whatever makes you feel good at the time. Now see yourself running the rapid or making the move successfully. Focus on the sense of accomplishment and excitement that you feel at the bottom. Repeat this practice as often as you can and see where it takes you. Then when you find yourself in the actual eddy above the rapid you can take a deep breath and remember all of those good feelings and moves you’ve practiced in your mind. This will allow you to feel relaxed and confident.
There are many ways to visualize. This is just one way that has been successful for me. Once you get more comfortable with visualization you can transform it into a process that is unique to you. Breath, relax and enjoy the positive results!