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Life lessons taught from surfing, part two

Last week, I weighed in on some lessons I’ve learned from a surfing. Today, I share a few more.

Diving right in: at various times during a session you will probably be held under the water by a wave. Sometimes, you’re under for longer than your lungs would like it to be. I was recently describing this to a friend who has never surfed, and they observed that surfing sounds like an activity where one is basically just trying not to drown, repeatedly. That’s not entirely true but not inaccurate either. Sometimes on a particularly heavy wave, I reach a moment when my lungs feel like they’re going to explode and I can’t take it any more. In that moment, I have to remain calm and know that eventually I will resurface. This too shall pass. I am totally at the mercy of the wave crashing on top of me: I will be flipped upside down, repeated. During these washing machine moments, I have not option to surrender. Resistance is futile! There have been many cases of babies surviving car accidents with only cuts and bruises, but no broken bones. Doctors suggest the reason for this is that they have not yet learned to ‘brace’ themselves for an impact, thus their body remains flexible and floppy. I apply this same principle during surfing; if your body goes rigid whilst being tossed around by a wave; there’s a much greater chance it might snap. Yikes.

Life lesson; Take the path of least resistance and surrender to whatever the present moment is. Eventually it will pass and you can come up for air.

If you are observing surfers in the water, you will probably not realise when near drowning’ moments have occurred. The surfer will hop back on the board and paddle on to the next wave. If it’s a particularly bad wipe-out or your bad judgement caused the incident (like say, for example, I you don’t check where your board is, but its attached to your ankle by a leash, and it boomerangs back and hits you on your forehead and you end up with a Harry Potter scar…ahem…), well you remember that surfing lesson and don’t repeat that mistake.

The life lessons? Collect the lesson, not the trauma because the past is exactly that, past! It’s gone, so focus on what’s happening in the present.

The connection with nature when surfing is one of the most beautiful and meditative aspects of this sport. While on the water, sensations are amplified. I love feeling the sensation of the water on your skin and feeling the wind skimming your skin as you fly along a wave. Nothing is better than the feeling of weightlessness as you glide along on top of the water. Becoming more aware of physical sensations on our skin is a technique used by the Buddha to purify the mind. Awareness of subtle sensations brings conciousness to the unconscious mind. There are certain moments when you are propelled along a wave that can generate an intense wave (I will never pardon a pun) of joy which wooshes up from the soles of your feet through your entire body. This feeling, is indescribable, for me (although, I just tried to describe it). It is one of the best moments in surfing. Be warned, this is why surfing is addicting. I quickly became attached and seek to replicate that moment of bliss at every opportunity.

The life lesson? Enjoy the pleasant sensations, but don’t get attached to them, because nothing is permanent. As difficult as it is, you must not cling to the good feelings as you will make yourself miserable. Enjoy the good moments and then allow them to leave and accept whatever sensation comes next.

I could write another ten pages on other life lessons which the ocean serves to you; butI ‘ll bullet point the last few instead.

1.  When a beginner drops in on you, let it go: “forgive them for they know not what they do”.
2. When the swell drops, have patience.
3. Other people can help you train or join your for a surf, but ultimately we ride the waves alone.
4. If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room. Apply this to surfing and you’d say if you’re the best surfer in the water you’re at the wrong spot? Hmm that doesn’t quite work but you know what I’m saying. Surround yourself with people who will help you grow.
5. Be considerate of other surfers, sometimes it’s better to lose the wave than to risk injury to yourself or another. Peace is better than always having to prove you’re right.
6. Be prepared, be selective and be ready to take an opportunity when it is presented.
7. Repeated bad habits can be broken…but only if we are made aware of them (shout out to everyone who’s every given me tips in the water!). Just like mental conditioning- shining the light of awareness is the first step to making concious decisions.

Now I’m not here to preach, I have not reached Buddha status, but I do know this for sure, the way to get to that level is through, something surfing taught me, practice practice practice!

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