Before you first step on a surfboard, the sport of surfing can seem exciting, thrilling and even intimidating to some. It requires full body strength and a synchronicity between mind, body and wave. Once we find our groove with surfing, it becomes more than just a physical activity—it can become a mindset and a way of life.
Surfing pushes us beyond our own boundaries, forcing us to looks fears in the face, to find a flow in our movements and thoughts, and to literally, ride with the ebb and flow of the tides and waves. The entire process of surfing is very metaphorical for our life experience. Surfing teaches us lessons that we can apply in and out of the water. Here are the key life learnings from surfing:
Stop, pause and Asses
Before we begin a surf session, it’s really important that we survey the beach and the water. We may check the weather and see what conditions we’re heading into. Sometimes, if things are too wild and the swells are too high, we’ll pause for the day. Other days, we know it will be smooth surfing so we are free to enjoy. This same rule applies to life. Before you start any new venture, get a lay of the land and see what you’re heading into. Taking this moment to survey your surroundings is a meaningful and powerful step in all areas of life.
We might plan a morning surf, check the conditions and get started in the water. But an hour in, the conditions can turn and we need to readjust our plans. Maybe we need to wrap up a little sooner or come back later in the day when things will be smoother. Learning when to act and when to retreat is important in surfing and in life. Some days we’ll be bursting with energy while others we may need to rest. Or there might be things that happen beyond our control. Learning to be patient and flexible is a core lesson we have learned and practice daily whilst surfing.
We’re a part of something bigger
There’s nothing more humbling than spending time in the ocean, working with nature’s waves and using your strength to get in flow with them. Surfing teaches us that we are a part of a force that is much bigger than ourselves. It can be easy to get caught up in our thoughts and worries, but surfing shows us that when we align ourselves with this higher power, we can get in the flow and literally (and metaphorically) ride the waves of the ocean and life.
Stay in the moment
Surfing pulls us into the present. If we aren’t totally in the moment, we won’t be able to catch a wave or be aware of what’s going on around us. If you’re in a surf lineup and there’s a big wave approaching, not being present could result in a nasty wipeout. This is also so true for life. When we’re ruminating on the past or fantasizing about the future, we’re not in the present. Surfing is the ultimate practice in mindfulness and we can carry that with us into each day.
Take the leap without hesitation
Once you’ve decided to go for a wave, there’s no hesitation. You must make the choice and go. Hesitating on your feet can, once again, lead to a wipe out. In life, you can hesitate to take action and let the moment pass you by. Or you can make the choice and put your everything into it. The choice is yours and surfing is a great reminder to us that sometimes we need to stop overthinking and commit to moving forward.