Big stuff needs big waves. If we want to process and understand big stuff, we must go out in the ocean with the big waves to experience their majesty.
For some, surfing is a thrill-seeking activity, a power game about them and the waves. For others, surfing is finding the courage to do something scary, a terrifying challenge that shifts you and gets you out of your comfort zone. After that follows wisdom, power, and self-respect. Surfing develops resilience and patience as you wait for the next wave and think.
There is a reason why people love walking along the beach, the ocean induces reflection, and it’s no wonder that ocean therapy and surfing attract many followers. Even tailored surfing and general English courses or adventure courses for international students are becoming more popular. Lexis English School has many combined courses and alternate electives to enhance learning. When you combine cognitive stimulation and thrill-seeking activities that give you a natural dopamine hit, you learn differently, and therefore you process things differently. That’s why these courses are so popular; the message is more likely to stick when learning in a relaxed state of mind and you can apply what you learn outside the class setting.
Surfing, ocean therapy, art therapy, and mental wellness activities like meditation and yoga leave you re-energized and more in tune with your body and mind. I have practiced meditation, ocean, and art therapy on myself, and the benefits are immense.
Surfing aims to balance the force of gravity against the advancing wave profile. A wave is a dynamic disturbance—a change from equilibrium. When you are out in the ocean with big waves, you cannot but feel tiny and vulnerable as you are pushed around by the force of the waves and pushed out of equilibrium. When you are focused on the wave, you are transported into the present; your thoughts are on the wave, not on your anxiety, depression, or any problem you have on land.
Surfing therapy is helpful for victims of PTSD or other psychological conditions. In the United Kingdom. The national health service recognizes it as one of the effective forms of therapy for youths at risk of mental illness. They are lessons that involve the presence of a mental health practitioner or a mentor. As an art therapist, I encourage you to visit online one of the many organizations that offer this service and find out how you can try out this practice.
With a family of surf lifesaver volunteers, and water safety educators, tipping our toes in the surf is a way of living. When we are not in the surf with the nipper’s team, we hang out at the beach or jump and fish off a boat on Moreton Bay. We are always surrounded by water; the ocean is one of the biggest healers for me and I’d feel lost without it.
Yet, despite that, I have not overcome my fear of deep water. I see surfing as downright scary, and that’s because I know that it is one of the most complex and challenging sports in the world. I’ve lived part of my life in the Mediterranean, where big waves are never seen, plus a poor culture of swimming training and you end up with the desire to be out there but no skills to accompany you.
It is clear, therefore that my bucket list includes becoming a stronger and more confident swimmer…after that, I have no excuse but to throw in Surfing. One thing I know for sure is that trying something that feels truly uncomfortable can only lead to resilience and more self-confidence.
Tips for families
Take the time to go near the ocean or a lake
Do some physical activity near water
Meditate or do some yoga on the beach
Practice some sort of art
Engage in art therapy
Find the courage to do some extreme sport
Try doing something you’re not familiar with
Practice mindfulness and live in the present
Enjoy the PROCESS!