Surfing as a spiritual way of life

My spiritual guardian is Mother Nature. My church is the sea.

Surfing is much more than a sport. It is a way of life, a philosophy, a different approach to the world we live in.

Why is surfing, being in touch with the ocean, essential to my life? I live to surf and surf to live. Surfing is what fulfils me, puts my mind at ease, and provides me with inspiration and strength to set out and conquer life anew every single day. Here is what surfing and this lifestyle has taught me over the past 10 years. These are the reasons why I turn to surfing for guidance and strength in every crucial moment of my life. Find out how it can help you too!

1. One of the most important lessons in surfing is not to be afraid. Surfing empowers you to conquer fear. As a wise friend once told me: „The fears you don’t face become your limits.“ Fear is not something that should limit our actions. It is something we need to face and conquer. In order to become one with the ocean, to ride the waves, it is crucial to understand and respect their powerful, untamed nature, rather than being afraid. If a wave makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t just quit and go home. Learn to read the surf spot and where to catch a smaller, or more mellow wave! Surfing is a lot about reading the ocean and predicting waves from experience and study. It’s just like learning to survive in this world.

Furthermore, fear is personal: Your fear is not the same as my fear. In surfing, each individual has the opportunity to approach their own fears and limitations at their own speed and with an approach that suits them. One surfer might be afraid of surfing a break with rocky bottom, instead of ’soft‘ sand. An advanced or professional surfer will be frothing to surf waves that are double-overhead and would freak out many other surfers. It can really help you to realize this: Your fears are your own; don’t compare yourself with others and believe in your strengths.

2. The ocean makes you believe in yourself. Nobody else can do that for you. The sea will show no mercy. Neither will the other surfers, who are each on their own search for the perfect wave and a little peace of mind. Unfortunately, surfing is a very self-centred sport, where every athlete wants the best waves for him-/herself. It takes some strength of character and self-confidence to survive in this pecking order.

3. Living a healthy lifestyle helps you to be a stronger surfer and to catch more waves. Eating healthy, nutritious food, getting enough sleep and avoiding – or at least not over-indulging in – coffee and alcohol, are part of this lifestyle. It will not only improve your paddle strength and endurance. It will improve your quality of living and make you a happier, more thankful and satisfied person.

4. Surfing teaches you to enjoy life. As they say: ‚The best surfer is the one having the most fun.‘ Everything is easier if you are having fun. A little smile will open many doors. It will make sure you catch more waves, as others will want to join in on the fun, perhaps even cheer you on.

5. Experiencing and challenging the natural force of the ocean puts your mind in the right place. As surfers, we are reminded of how small and insignificant we are. Even if you have been catching all the best waves of the session and feel like King Kelly: The next freak set will come and send you tumbling to the ocean floor, holding on to dear life, and teach you humility, respect and admiration.

6. Surfing offers a unique and incomparable way of experiencing the beauty of nature. The ocean with its ever-changing mood is a constant source of inspiration. You breathe in the salty air, immerse your body and soul in the water and let it cleanse your mind and soul. As surfers, we get the chance to interact with all kinds of marine life. In Bali this incomparable privilege may include the acquaintances of such rare and fascinating creatures as dugongs, Orca whales, sharks, sea snakes, sea turtles and many more.

7. To us as surfers, the search for the perfect wave means living the life of a travelling sea-gypsy: On this search, we discover new people, new waves, new countries and cultures. Through travelling, surfers gain cross-cultural knowledge and understanding. As surfers, we are all part of a worldwide community with the one unifying, life-long goal of riding as many waves as our feet will carry us on. For me as a surf instructor, another goal is to share my passion and joy with others. There is simply nothing better than the stoke of catching a wave!

Surfing has many qualities of a philosophy, religion, or a way of life. No matter what you want to call it, the spiritual quality of surfing is what changes your life forever. The more you surf, the more you free your body, your mind, your senses. Surfing becomes the one driving force in your life. You surf to live, because it helps you to deal with any hardship or challenges you face in your everyday life. You live to surf, because your are given the opportunity to enjoy ocean play. The more you surf and experience the marine environment, the more you feel at home in it. You become a mermaid at heart. You feel happy and at-peace-with-yourself and others. For the sake of these pleasures, you feel the urge to protect the sea and the whole world it represents to you. Surfing is everything!

Love and Mahalo from the Mermaid xx

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