The Zen of Surfing

With the morning air gusting past my ears, I hear the sound of seagulls in the distance, muffled only by the percussive crash of ocean waves. What is it that has me standing on this beautiful beach at 6 a.m.? What is so enticing that it can’t wait for a more convenient hour? It’s this beach – San Onofre State Beach – and its reputation for world-class surfing. I went there to experience it.

Surfing, like making love, always feels good, no matter how many times you’ve done it. But I wonder – can it be a spiritual activity as well?

Standing here admiring the ocean’s magnificent swells, I noticed the “soul surfers”: people who surf every morning simply for the sheer joy of the activity and lifestyle. These are the surfers who have found Nirvana by expressing themselves through unity with the breaking wave. It’s as though they borrow the spirit of the wave for a moment, and use their bodies and boards to translate the essence of nature into artistic expression.

I’m not one of these surfers. It’s not for lack of desire as much as it is for lack of time. The good news is that the Zen state these surfers achieve can be experienced by the novice surfer. Whether it’s the exercise or the proximity to nature that causes the spiritual high, the fact is, it’s hard to surf without smiling.

Perhaps it’s that my core as a Libra is pacified by the natural balance of the ocean’s tides. Or maybe it’s the negative ions released by the pounding surf against the shore that causes people to experience enhanced mental clarity and overall good spirits. If not these, then certainly one’s spirit must be soothed by the schools of colorful sea life that parade by surfers in the lineup, or by the radiant hues of the setting sun at their back while waiting for the last wave to ride in. Quite often, it’s all of these factors that contribute to the allure of the sport.

All in all, it’s the entirety of these things combined that make the surfer’s lifestyle a healthy, reflective, and spiritual one.

2 thoughts on “The Zen of Surfing

  1. marin5113marin5113

    I can vouch for the connection surfers feel. Although I live about 2 1/2 hours away from the ocean, I make it a priority to visit once a week for a day of surfing at the Pacific Ocean. It is an obsession!

    If anyone wants a glimpse into the euphoria of surfing and understand what we experience, I suggest reading the book “Saltwater Buddha; A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea.”

    Marin #5113

  2. Jacqueline

    Hi Lockland,

    Interesting article, studies have shown that water is living, it has healing qualities, it also has a way of taking away stress’s of everyday life as well as negative energies, which effects health and moods.

    Since I do not live near water I have not had the pleasure of learning to surf, my question is as the water heals and removes negative energies the surfing releasing endorphins from working out, I could see what a huge rush that would be.

    Blessings and Big Hugs
    Jacqueline x9472


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