Well friends, we’ve been working feverishly and furiously on the book. Following is a sample of the first chapter, for your reading enjoyment. We’ve included clips of a few of the sections.
We hope you enjoy it, and share it too!
Chapter 1 – Finding the Path Sojourn, pt. 1
It’s raining cold, dark sheets on the windy road to the coastal surf town. I left as early as possible to get to the beach for sunrise. It’s 8 AM, but the sky is still dark with grey clouds and torrents of water. I pull up to Long beach to see if I want to get in the water before heading into town and warming myself up with one of the greatest gifts from the earth: a freshly brewed coffee.
The scene is a familiar one on the west coast of Canada: mountains of deep blue water crashing onto sandy and rocky beaches. Driftwood logs from the logging industry litter the coastline. Rain comes from all directions. Strong winds spray the tops off of the distant waves and help them keep from breaking. All in all, this morning is perfectly frightening.
The sound is violently calming. The universe moves these waves at its whim, pushing them against the sand and stone beaches of this once remote part of the world. I roll down my truck window to smell the air. Salt floods my nostrils and refreshes my soul as the ions enter and play with my senses, pulling memories of past times in the ocean to the forefront of my mind. Continue reading
A friend recently asked me what it was about surfing that relates to Buddhism. In the ensuing expansive explanation, I shared with him the peace and quiet it brings. Upon further discussion, I realized that it may be valuable to share a portion of our upcoming book, Dharma in Every Wave, on this blog…
It’s raining cold pebbles of ice and rain. The piercing offshore wind resonates in my ears as I make my way down the beach from the gravel parking lot. Clutching my board tightly, my right hand echoes the anticipation of my heart and mind as I watch a six foot right crash in the distance. Through the wintery grey and the spray of the waves, I scope my paddle out line of least resistance. I know this beach somewhat, and the general area which can pull me sideways into the oncoming waves. I must be conscious, I must be mindful, and not get distracted by the environment.
Breathing deeply while stretching my back and shoulders, I become aware of the havoc that the cold is playing on my flexibility. Doubt begins to enter my mind. I make room for it, thinking of the warmth and comfort I have left to come here.
My left foot makes that familiar splash as I start to enter the vastness of the ocean which awaits me with gifts of cold, pain, and exhilaration. The wind is howling now, and the rain is hard and piercing, attacking me from below as it forms a barrier off of the embracing sea.
The noise and the harshness of the elements tell me that I do not belong here; and I listen, wondering more and more why I am doing this. I ask out loud if the piercing howl of the wind will cease. I curse the weather as it attacks me. Surely, if I was not wrapped in the protection of the wetsuit, I would have never considered the adventure of the early morning Canadian West Coast beach.
The waves make themselves known to me. A set starts rolling in while I am at that place; too shallow to dive, too deep to guard my face. The water engulfs me, finding every possible way into my core, stopping my breath and stealing the little heat I so preciously guard.
It is at this point that I realize I am alone, and all is noise.
There is no one else here on this beach. No friends to save me if anything goes wrong. No strangers to paddle out if I am not vigilant. I stole out of the hostel I am staying at before first light. Success depends entirely on me, and the doubt is louder and stronger than ever.
I push on, knowing that this noise and distraction is part of my journey to catch the seemingly un-catchable. That moment where you harness the power of the universe under your feet, and tune into the flow of the chaos.
Once the set has passed, I lift myself onto my trusted board and start to paddle, pushing the small feeling of security and self further out and away from the safety and stability of the beach.
Through the rain, wind, and foam, the crest of a giant begins to form. Its thick and dark walls are outlined by the endless shower from above and the sideways spray of water carried by the wind. Choosing not to move backward, I paddle forth towards the uncaring water. As the darkness towers over me, I lift my knee onto my board and clutch the rails of my brazilian beauty. She has seen warmer waters, and I frequently hear her asking me to return her to southern seas. I take a deep breath, push her nose down, and I breathe out. My face embraces the darkness.
I am alone. And all is quiet.
The rain is gone. The wind has stopped. My face, still cold and tight, is somehow calm. I continue to breathe out as I push with my shoulders. For this brief moment in time, all is peaceful. Though surrounded by waters that could eventually cause hypothermia, I have forgotten the cold that was piercing my chest. The uncaring noise of the world is gone, the doubt has washed away, and my mind suddenly feels at peace. My body relaxes into the movement as I follow the momentum of my actions. I feel loose, flexible, strong.
I look up, and can see the faint glimmer of the sun through the surface of the sea. Every time I dive, I return to a different place. Sometimes forward, sometimes back, but always more experienced.
This previous story describes a time when I first realized the power of meditation, and the connection to surfing. As I continued to paddle out that day, I began connecting my love for surf and the actions contained within it to the peace and calm I was acquiring through the studies and meditations Buddhism was bringing me. The rain, the wind, the cold, are all noise that cast doubt in my mind and form a barrier between my true self and my surfing practice. Life casts the same metaphors of noise; distractions such as television, financial woes, self-imposed judgments and internal feelings of external obligations all create states of mind that prevent my true self from being fully expressed.
Meditation, much like diving under a wave as described above, allows me to quiet the busy, day-to-day noise and concerns, and focus on the true strength contained within myself. The thoughts and distractions wash away as I focus on my body, breath, and universal connection. I become relaxed, and am reminded that the mind holds the power with which I can create the internal reactions to external situations. A daily meditation practice allows for more peace, and I must be vigilant in making time for it. Curiously, the more time I make for meditation, the more relaxed I am in the other moments of the day, as if time has been created out of nothing.
Those who have never meditated may feel unsure about what needs to be done. Is there anything to study? Must it be done in any one specific manner? No. There are many ways to meditate, some involve sitting and breathing, some involve sports (such as above), some involve yoga, but all contribute to calmer places within. It is in these moments of internal flow that we let go of our past and future concerns, and focus only on the present moment.
In the near future, we here at Dharma in Every Wave shall be creating some step-by-step meditations to follow and share. These will be audio and written guides, and build successively on one another. If you have never meditated before, by starting with these simple meditations, not only will you feel more at peace, but you will also notice that a daily, consistent practice benefits your mental health and productivity.
We’ve all been there: That feeling to have something we don’t, or be with someone whom we aren’t. That longing look, thinking “If only I had that/him/her, I would be happy! I would be complete. I would be better.”
Surprisingly, I have them. I have them often. Here’s one recount.
I wasn’t catching many waves (yes, we ALWAYS say that… but this time seemed lower than average!). I was tired, my board felt all wrong, and I was constantly setting in the wrong spot. It’s not that I was chasing the perfect wave… I was chasing ANY wave.
So I packed it all in. The Situation was victorious over me, and I thought it better to bow out and head for the little coffee shop I like. As I grabbed my coffee and walked out into the lot, I spied the surf shop across the way. I never really made time for shops, but since the day was still relatively young, I figured I’d head in, grab some wax, and chat up whomever was interested in recounting surf stories.
As I wandered around, I ended up eyeing some new boards and thought it would be a harmless venture to check them out. As I ran my fingers lightly on the smooth decks and perfect graphics, my eyes settled on a 6 foot thruster. The graphic was simple and eye catching: 3 pencilled, wavy lines of different shades of blue ran the board lengthwise. Looking at the board sideways, they resembled 3 cross sections of swells… bo doubt what the artist had in mind. It was a real beauty… far better than the yellow beater I had picked up in Costa Rica years before. As I picked her up to check the rocker and rails, I realized another thing: the board was epoxy. Lighter and stronger than mine, I immediately felt that I would be a better surfer with her under my feet.
I liked the board. I wanted the board.
I continued comparing this new beauty to my old rugged princess, crammed unforgiveingly in my truck. Mine was pressure dinged, cracked, gouged, and pummelled. The visible repairs, the faded yellow, the old footpad: This board was the obvious cause of my poor performance earlier that day. I quickly became unsatisfied with my ride… a thought which had never entered my mind before. As if that suffering wasn’t enough, I then began to imagine how brilliant of a surfer I could become with this new epoxy beauty guiding me to the best waves. I would be unstoppable; immediately consistent and world class! In my mind’s eye, the sun was shining, the swell was like clockwork, and I was catching every wave with ease.
All thanks to the new board I could purchase.
As I blinked my self back into the present, my eyes focused on the $650 price tag and I swallowed deeply. I then let out a sigh as I contemplated how I could afford this. I couldn’t without repercussions… either giving up some food entirely for a little while, or pulling out the credit card and creating some debt. Either option was not favourable.
At that moment, a general sense of lack and inadequacy started making its way into my mind as I wondered where my savings were, why I couldn’t afford the board, why wasn’t I earning more money, and why had I chosen the career path I was on?
Lack. Self doubt. Negative criticism. Self induced suffering. ALl form a surfboard, and a price tag?
I smiled as I caught myself. I eyed the board once again, and thanked it for the lesson. I walked out to my truck, and admired my beat-up Costa Rican beauty.
Summer in Tofino is a strange place to be. The local industry is heavily dependant on tourism, infusing surf schools and local businesses with dollars, which people are thankful for. Yet, the warm summer days and easier paddles outdraw the same beginners out to sit side by side with people who live and die by the shortboard. I was out in the back lineup two weekends ago, waiting for the next set to come in. There was another guy in the lineup, a face I have seen over the years, but didn’t know by name. We’ll call him Steve, and the next wave was his.
Surfing crosses all borders, be it physical, social, or economic. Surfing promotes a sense of connection and camaraderie amongst those out on the ocean. People are out on the ocean waves for the common goal of temporarily harnessing the power of the wave. Through surfing, people learn to read the oceans and swells, and appreciate and respect the environment they are spending so much time in. Surfing based organizations such as Surfrider Foundation teach environmental programs, have beach cleanups, and organize many other events, all centered around the protection of the worlds oceans.
Surfers also discover a deep respect for their own bodies, and develop a much improved self confidence. Their health becomes so important to them, as it takes strength, stamina, and mental agility to be at one with the ocean.
As one man wrote about his physical and mental improvements:
“Surfing really made me quit smoking because I was having shortness of breath when I was trying to catch waves. It burned when I took a deep breath. So it didn’t take me long to realize that surfing didn’t go along with smoking , so I quit. I couldn’t smoke in the water and it was a great place to commune with nature and feed my addictive personality fresh air and sunshine. Also I found that drinking didn’t go well with surfing, I was sluggish and lethargic when I would drink even beer the previous day. So I stopped drinking all together. It didn’t make me feel that good anyway. So I replaced smoking and drinking with surfing. I became healthier and eventually happier. Probably because I was more active and I wasn’t abusing my body as much.”
From a social standpoint, surfing has roots far deeper than many of the sports today. The Hawaiian people integrated surfing into their culture and made surfing more of an art than anything else. They referred to this art as heʻe nalu, which translates into English as “wave sliding.” The art began before entering the mysterious ocean as the Hawaiians prayed to the gods for protection and strength to undertake the powerful mystifying ocean.