What is it about surfing that’s just so healing, that makes you feel so calm and centred each and every time?
Is it because of the biological influence of the mammalian dive reflex, yup, that has something to do with it.
Or is it because exercise is known to release endorphins and make you feel good, yup, that too.
But there’s something else going on, something that takes you out of your head, stops the squirrelling brain doing what squirrelling brains do, and re-centres you like nothing else.
It’s called Zen, and whether you know you're doing it or not, it happens every time you hit the surf.
WHAT IS ZEN
Zen is a practice for creating stillness in the mind, cultivating awareness and insight.
You might be familiar with Zen Buddhists who spend much of their day in meditation or Zen practice.
To separate oneself from the persistent chattering of the mind, and find peace in day to day life - regardless of external conditions.
A daily Zen practice then, can go a long way to adding a sense of wholeness and peace - which is a beautiful thing - especially in today's hectic times.
Luckily for you, it turns out that surfing is the ultimate Zen practice (just one of the many health benefits of surfing) whether you like it or not, and here’s why…
5 REASONS WHY SURFING IS THE BEST ZEN PRACTICE YOU CAN DO
There are five things that constitute an effective Zen practice, and it just so happens that surfing ticks all those boxes:
1. SURFING & SIMPLICITY
A key hallmark of any Zen practice is simplicity, and surfing has this in buckets.
Unlike other sports, surfing is an individual pursuit, just you, your surfboard, and the ocean.
No phone, nobody nagging you, no chores, and no external distractions.
It's simplicity at its finest, and that's why it's so calming.
2. SURFING REGULARITY
Regularity and routine are essential for any Zen practice.
Therefore surfing on a regular basis, daily if you can (regardless of the conditions), will help as part of this practice, helping to cultivate a deeper connection with oneself and the world around you.
Surfing regularly also instills discipline, some that when cultivated, brings with it internal rewards.
3. THE ULTIMATE AWARENESS
Zen practice is about bringing awareness into all aspects of your life, whether that’s doing the dishes, eating, or working - all of it.
But it can be very challenging to do this at first, especially for the novice.
Surfing is great though because it brings about that full awareness, present to the ever fluctuation conditions around you, whether you try to do it or not.
It kinda just happens.
Surfing is a constant dance, observing, letting go, and connecting to your surroundings.
4. SURFING & MINDFULNESS
99.99% of human beings spend 99.99% of their time stuck in their heads.
A constant chattering of thoughts, on loop 24/7.
This isn’t good, and it’s enough to drive anyone mad.
With so much happening around you, and so much happening within your head, surfing gives you that brief window where that’s not the case, where thoughts are allowed to slip away, and where you must be mindful of everything around you.
Feeling sensations as they arise: your breath, your body, your surroundings.
5. TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIP
A teacher-student relationship is considered important in Zen teaching, and what better teacher than surfing and the ocean itself.
When you quieten the mind you can tune in, and listen to the ebbs and flows of the oceans movements.
Over time you learn to synchronise your movements with its, internally understanding where you should be and when, which waves to go and why.
In surfing we call this being in-sync, and they're all lessons you can learn if you open yourself up to them and allow them in.
The journey of Zen isn’t really a journey as there’s no place to get to, nowhere to go, rather its a state of being.
Paradoxically you can’t get there by doing anything, only by stripping away and being.
And the good thing is, all this cool shit happens whether you like it or not.
If you surf, you'll feel more Zen, simples.
Boom! That just happened.
Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.