A surfers perspective on Anxious and Calm

Anxiety is a jab in the jaw for your attention; it gets your heart beating, your senses tingling, and your body ready for action—it’s a jolt of adrenaline straight to the central nervous system.

Right above my childhood bed in my father’s apartment overlooking the Bay of Plenty in Durban, South Africa, was a photo of the Banzai Pipeline—the world’s most feared wave.

I would get anxious just looking at the picture because I knew that one day I would have to go there to test myself . . .

The waves at the Banzai Pipeline break a short distance from shore, often no more than fifty yards from the coarse sand on which sit thousands of spectators during the winter competition season. Waves are generated by storms hundreds of miles away, and these swells travel through deep water until feeling the resistance of the shallow coral reef at the Pipeline. Waves stack up together into sets, a grouping, each about fifteen seconds apart, and then increase in size as they sweep towards the shore, their force magnified by the shallowing coral reef, changing from swells into waves, whipped ever-higher by the fierce trade winds blowing the spray upwards and out to sea like a rain squall.

As you stand on the beach watching ten- to fifteen-foot waves detonate on the reef, you can feel the concussion through your feet. Ka-boom—ka-boom. Surfers paddle for the waves, sometimes blinded by the fierce winds, and launch themselves over the edge of the wave as it rears up vertically on the reef, hoping that their forward momentum, skill, and commitment will keep them on the wave’s face and not pitch them forward into the air and a deadly wipeout.

After I would paddle out through the in-rushing waves, sped along by the out-rushing rip current, I would sit and wait for my first ride and consciously suppress the beating of my heart.

Anxiety is caused by a fear of a future occurrence—failure, injury, or even death. Anxiety is a deep dread of failing.

I discovered that anxiety can be controlled, first through breath and then with clearing thoughts. Breathe slowly and deeply, calmly and consciously, and then empty the mind, clear it of all thought. Calmness is like a warming coat for a shivering body, an antidote to fear, a clearing wind to sweep away anxiety.

I would breathe, slowly and deeply, rhythmically, and the fluid motion would still my beating heart, and, through focus and concentration, through thought and control, I would let go of being anxious and find my inner calm. I would bring the fear and anxiety of an uncertain future and potential failure to my locus of control in the present. And then I would start to paddle for the next wave, and my actions and forward motion would dispel the anxiety like a clearing and calming wind . . .

The Surfer and The Sage

The Surfer and The Sage

Legendary world champion surfer Shaun Tomson and international best-selling poet-philosopher Noah benShea join forces to offer you insight on a path of purpose, hope, and faith.

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