Surfing to Surrender

"We live between the Act of Awakening and the Act of Surrender..." 

In 2012, I began to develop a fear of being in large bodies of water. Odd because I love the ocean and moved from NYC to SoCal to have a "beach life" and absolutely loved growing up so close to the beach in Virginia. I'm also a water Sun Sign and always enjoyed swimming and playing in the water. Funny that many of our developed phobias and fears don't make much sense until you lift the hood and dive below the surface. I find that a lot of my fears are simply metaphors for a far deeper stirring that is going on within. 

Last July I headed down to Panama. The original travel had been planned to co-lead a Beautifully Balanced retreat. We had to make a hard decision to cancel it due to numerous things that we simply couldn't control. The disappointment was heavy around that decision yet I found using the deposit to enroll in Sansara's amazing 5-day Surf Package.

What unfolded during that trip was an experience that I will never forget. I had some of the most meaningful and deep conversations about life through simple "surf talk." I enjoyed long naps in hammocks and spent a lot of time in reflection and connecting with myself. 

On day one I made the decision to express a deep reverence for the ocean and my experience in it.

My mantra for the week became, 
"Commit. And give zero fucks." 
Meaning, commit fully to everything in the water; be it paddling, catching a wave, or falling. And not take myself too seriously or get wrapped up in what others were thinking of me. 

If I looked crazy falling all over, who cared! 
If I didn't stand up at all, who cared! 
Whatever happened, I just wanted to allow and have fun.

One of the beautiful things about the way Sansara's Surf instructors teach is that they never touch you or your board, ever. They ride on their own board every single time you go out. So there is none of the typical "pushing you into a wave" thing that I experienced my first time surfing in Hawaii. There was a huge sense of empowerment that came from being 100% responsible for yourself in the learning process.

The first day, we learned to navigate and ride the whitewash. It was a lot of fun and I wasn't scared because my feet could touch the ocean floor the whole time.

Day two, was how to catch an actual green wave and wouldn't you know it, I caught the very first one I went for and rode it all the way to shore. I know my facial expression must've been priceless because I was shocked and thrilled! Something just clicked. I took to the surfing thing quickly. Surprisingly, catching and riding more waves than bailing. And when I did bail and fall, I did it with a deep sense of commitment. Somehow I found the beautiful balance I needed to both surrender and put forth the effort that was required.

Surrendering allowed me to settle into the effortless effort of surfing.

And I can remember the moment I surrendered to my fear of the ocean. We were all pretty far out on day two and ended up all by myself for a bit of time after everyone else had catch waves. Floating there alone, I realized a freak out was about to happen! I was all alone! My head went wild...thoughts of sharks and all the craziness that comes with that started flooding my mind. I immediately thought to myself "Look around you! This is beautiful! How blessed are you to be here? Learning to surf! Don't allow this moment to be taken by anticipating."  

That was it. It's exactly what I needed to shake myself out of the thoughts of "what if" and into the very beautiful present moment of pure reality. I took a deep long breath, let the tears flow down my cheeks and took it all in. Feeling of the gentle ebb and flow under me. The magnitude of the ocean all around. The beautiful lush landscape behind me. It was a moment of pure and authentic beauty. One I really will never ever forget. The vast ocean was now comforting me rather than terrifying me because I allowed the truth of the present moment to no longer be stripped away by my fear. 

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The photo of me falling is my absolute favorite! It captures the essence of what I was feeling...⠀

Pure surrender. ⠀
Fully committed.⠀
Giving zero fucks.⠀
And enjoying every single second.⠀

No bracing. ⠀
No attempt to break my fall. ⠀
Just letting go. ⠀
Trusting that the great force of the ocean would catch me.