Surfing is like Meditation. When we go in the water, the wandering mind and life problems stay at the shore. While surfing one only focuses on the waves, waiting for the opportunity to catch a wave. Surfing gets you in the present moment. Like in any other meditation practice, we tend to receive little downloads and ways of understanding life. Here are a few lessons I learned while surfing.
1/ Test the Water.
Before getting into the water, observe the flow of waves for a while before entering. The ocean is a great teacher of flow, timing, currents, and patterns. Once you become good at observing, you will know how or where to position yourself.
The same goes for any situation. Before entering into a situation watch and listen. Have a feel of the room before entering, read the crowd or the person before talking to them, and so on.
2/ Don't do it alone.
Once I arrived at an empty surf point that was usually very crowded. The sea was a bit messy but it didn’t look terrible, so I went in. Once inside I underwood why no one else was there. It was horrible, there were currents dragging me in all directions.
It took me forever to get out and I had to climb a wall of rock and concrete to get out! I ended up in a seaside restaurant shaking like a wet cat. The waiter came to me and said “Table for one?” It floored me.
The episode reminded me of the book “Never eat alone”, about the importance of making meaningful connections. Also, of the African proverb:
“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want too far, go together”.
3/ Vibe check yourself.
Try to go into the water with a good vibe or positive mood. There were a couple of times when I went into the water feeling a bit weird. I wasn't fully present, and this caused me to have small accidents. Crashing with another surfer or damaging my board on the reef, for example.
It's better, safer, and more respectful to go into any situation with a clear positive vibe. When my vibe is high I will be present and careful. When my vibe is off I am likely to make mistakes and piss off the peopel around me.
4/ There is enough for everybody's needs and not for everybody's greed*
Crowded surf spots had a lot of big ego “bros” and testosterone. Surfers in crowded spots often had a stern look or unfriendly attitude. It can be a competitive situation when there are too many surfers and too few waves. But in the midst of these environments, I noticed that there was always a person with a different attitude.
They would say hi when arriving at the surf stop, whether they know you or not. Some would even let others take waves they could have easily taken. The vibe around these men was way different and more pleasant. A scarcity mindset makes it miserable for everyone. The abundance mindset makes it way better.
*Quote by Ghandi.
5/ Commit to Your Wave.
I learned that it's important to commit to taking or leaving a wave. Anything in between will result in getting wiped out or falling. Fully committing to a wave means paddling with all you got until you get the wave or it passes you.
In both surfing and life, opportunities may present themselves briefly. Commit to seizing them when they arise, as hesitation may cause you to miss out on valuable experiences or opportunities to
6/ Strength vs. Skill.
Knowing where the best spot to catch waves doesn't make you the best person to catch them if you don’t have the physical strength. I saw people who had a lot of stamina but were wasting their efforts paddling for waves in the wrong places. Some people have one or the other and the ideal is to have both.
This reminded me of the story of Ulises’ Bow in the Odyssey, which required some brute force but also a bit of a knack. Similarly, in life, possessing knowledge and being strategic in decision-making is crucial, but it must be accompanied by willpower and physical effort to turn those plans into reality.
7/ Good or Bad Momentum Expands
There is something kind of magical about catching that first wave early in a session. Once you catch the first wave, you will get excited, confident, and hungry for more. This somehow makes you more able to catch the next one and then the next one. It’s like entering into a flow.
The opposite also applies. Fuckups will snowball and you might find yourself in a strick of mistakes and low confidence. The lesson is that when you see there is positive momentum, milk it! If you see there is negative momentum, stop trying, let the air clear, go to the shore, chill for a bit, and try again later.
This reminds me of Abraham Hicks’ teachings for the Law of Attraction. She teaches us to go to sleep or do something fun if we are full of negative emotions so that we don't attract more of it.
Gratitude! Since posting this people in social media mentioned being grateful for the ocean, and the present moment
And that’s what the wisdom of the waves has taught me so far. Thanks for reading!
I hope that you are always able to feel the vibe, and find flow. May good momentum and meaningful connections always find you. May you always find the strength to do things in life and the little tricks that make all things a bit easier.