The Dalai Lama was asked, “What is the best religion?” He replied, “The best religion is whatever gets you closest to God.” Immediately I thought about surfing, the one activity I practice with discipline and devotion. I learned to surf in my thirties after I had my first child. As a single mother, I wanted to name my son after someone who would guide him and co-parent with me, teaching him all the lessons that I could not teach him alone; so I named him Kai, the Hawaiian word for Ocean, my beloved Master and first love.
In the ocean I get to meet one on one with that higher power, entering its liquid realm naked and vulnerable, yet brave. Master Ocean is alive. It breathes and changes moods with the moon, making waves and storms and finding moments of stillness very much like my inner self. It immediately connects me to source every time I dip my head under the salty water; my ego disappears and my mind melts into present-moment awareness and an instinctual will to survive. To build a relationship with the ocean I use a surf board; it helps me float as I learn to walk on water until the moment I stand on a wave and dissolve, becoming part of the whole.
Surfing helps me practice spiritual virtues, like faith, strength and courage. Just to paddle into the vast sea I need absolute trust (no shark thoughts, no fear) and patience to wait for the right wave at the right time, to place myself at the right spot (a lot of rights!). That is why nothing on earth has taught me more about humility than surfing.
The gift of perseverance comes naturally as an outcome of the blissful silence that recharges me every time I catch a wave and gracefully balance through the chaos on the water. Waves are never the same.
Surfing teaches me to transcend my humanity with eyes wide open. Like Hawaiian uncle Kurt said: We are all one, nobody is better than anyone else and the ocean will right size you because it doesn’t matter if you are 7 feet tall or 2 feet tall; whenever your feet leave the sand, we all become “a head floating above the water size.”
The bigger the waves, the closer I feel to the warrior heart that loves to take risks, entering a state of no-mind and hyper awareness in which every breath I take fills me with gratitude and awe… I love. I love.
The drive and passion that I feel for the inner sense of freedom that surfing gives me got me hooked from day one!
Sometimes on land I struggle to balance and tolerate the sea of emotions. I always thought that “if only” I could dip my head under the ocean whenever I felt upset, I could instantly detach from pain.
The good news is that with Transcendental Meditation, I finally found a way to go within to that ocean of mine. TM helps me allow, flow and let go into the barrel of transcendence where time and space disappear, just like when I find myself surfing inside a tube—where it doesn’t matter if I fall or if I get spit out in a blaze of glory, because the only feeling I come out with is pure joy.
Guest Post, by Andrea Gaytan
Andrea is a professional wakeboarding champion. She was one of the first women to compete in the sport and has traveled the world competing. Her first contest was the 1993 Wakeboard World Championships. Because of her ranking, she was invited to compete against the men at the X Games. She also qualified for the Callaway Masters. Because of her performance at the event, they had a women’s division the following year.
Thanks to her successful career, she was hired to design the first wakeboard for women. She retired from competitions after winning the Gravity Games in 1999.
Andrea now lives in Kauai, Hawaii with her son and is an avid surfer.