Share the Love…Surfing Together.

Lucia, age 6 and myself, Rockaway Beach

Lucia, age 5 and myself, Rockaway Beach

As I sit on the beach writing this, I am watching a dozen or so kids riding waves to the shoreline. Even though the sun is bright and their faces are backlit I can FEEL their smiles! I can still feel their stoke and likewise I am stoked for them. This to me is the beauty of surfing.

Anyone of any age or gender can enjoy his or her own personal connection with the ocean. As a surfer and all around ocean aficionado I am happy when other people catch waves too.

Riding Waves is an Ancient Tradition. 

Riding Waves is Spiritual.

Connecting with nature on a deep level helps us feel more connected to our planet, the universe and ourselves.

Riding Waves Reduces Stress.

Surfing, boogie boarding and body surfing can definitely reduce stress. Some argue that the pounding waves generate Negative Ions. These Negative Ions are found in abundance in such naturally pleasant places as waterfalls, the seashore and rainstorms. They are created by the action of water hitting the land. Negative ions are simply water molecules that break apart and take on a negative electrical charge.

Riding Waves is Beautiful. 

Sometimes the best part of my surf session is witnessing the majesty of nature itself. I remember many a surf session where I can see the pelicans soaring by, little fish jumping over my board, the changing light on the horizon, the rising sun over the ocean…getting to your feet a riding a wave through the ever changing scenery is an additional perk.

Riding Waves Together.

Happiness is infectious. If there is a nice group of people then riding waves together can be an amazing, communal experience.

Riding Waves is Great Exercise. 

Surfing is an amazing total body workout. You need a strong upper body to power through the surf as well as to paddle into waves. You need a strong core to pop up onto your feet and strong legs to turn the board where you want it to go. Being stronger will improve confidence.

Overcoming Fear.

Riding waves can help you overcome fear. Delving into fear is a good way to recognize where it is coming from and why? Maybe you almost drown in the lake when you were a kid? Maybe your parents were the nervous type? Recognizing this and overcoming your fear by becoming a better swimmer and spending time in the ocean may help you in many aspects of your life.

Increase Respect: 

My kids will say to me “never turn your back on the ocean.” It is important to revere and respect Mother Nature in all of her beauty and fury. Surfing and spending time in the ocean will inevitably provide many opportunities for personal growth.

If Surfing on a board seems daunting, I’d highly suggest Boogie Boarding and Body Surfing: 

Boogie boarding.

The learning curve is very tame and there are fewer risks of injury than surfing. All you need is a $50 boogie board and you are set for life. Add fins for extra powerful kicks and then you really have a great set-up for a fun-filled summer.

Body Surfing- a classic.

Body surfing is an amazing full body workout that is totally free and guaranteed to induce laughter. Major risks include loss of bikini tops and bottoms.

If you are interested in learning how to surf on a surfboard I recommend taking a class. Classes are usually taught on foam boards, which is a safe way to get started riding waves. You will also have the opportunity to learn about surfing etiquette, which is an important element for both safety and respect.

There are many surf schools in the NYC area.

For Rockaway Beach try Steve Stathis at Boarders http://www.boarderssurfshop.com/

Locals Surf School: check in with Mike at: http://localssurfschool.com/

For Long Beach, Long Island check out: http://skudinsurf.com/

Or Unsound Surf: http://unsoundsurf.com/

Get Connected

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” -Siddhartha Guatama Buddha 

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I see a lot of “unhappy” people seeking acupuncture for help. It’s mind-boggling how many people that on the outside appear to “have it all” report being unhappy. I’m talking about successful, attractive, wealthy, incredible women and men, people that if you saw on the street you’d say to yourself “dang, she looks together.”

Some people fall into the clinically depressed and/or anxious category. I’m actually referring to people who are living with a day to day underlying sadness, loneliness or indifference. Indifference is probably the worst…it’s resigned sadness.

There are many external factors that may influence ones internal landscape but ultimately, if you listen to the happiness pros you must learn to change your self and not the circumstances. Easier said than done however, especially when we live in a society that is focused on what you produce versus who you are as a person.

Unlike many other cultures our society is focused on what we can churn out. Even the question “what do you do?” could not exist in many other cultures. Yet in our western society we can reflexively answer that question with our profession. Omitting the source of what really inspires us or helps us connect with others. 

This creates is disconnection between who we are in our heart and what we do with our bodies.

When the heart and mind are disconnected it is difficult to feel grounded, satisfied,  and content. 

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People often tell me “everything is great, I just don’t feel happy”.
It’s pretty obvious by now that stuff and achievements to do not create lasting happiness.

Happiness must come from within…but how? Why is it so elusive?

Ways that Happiness Eludes us:

Happy all the time = Happy

Many people think that they need to feel great all of the time to be truly happy. That is the stuff for social media…an unrealistic slice of life that has been proven to increase disconnectedness and depression.  No one is supposed to feel great all of the time. Seasons of life and seasons of moods are a closer reflection of the natural world.

External events create lasting Happiness:

This is generally a form of anxiety rearing it’s ugly head. Someone who constantly sets the bar higher and higher. Never comfortable with where they are at…never really happy with any accomplishment…”Perfectionism vs Optimalism”. If this resonates with you check out an outstanding book, The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben Shahar.

Some people use external life events as a way to measure happiness. “When I finish law school then I’ll be happy”. “When I’m earning a six-figured salary, I’ll be happy”. “After I run this race then I’ll be happy”. But then they run the race, get through school, get the great job, make the great salary and then what….

I often ask people what makes you feel happy? A resounding amount of people say they just don’t know?

Improving Happiness through Connecting the Mind and the Heart:

The Journey is the Destination:

My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Professor says all of the time, its not the ownership of a Black Belt that is worthy but who you become in the process of earning the Black Belt. The transformation is the goal. 

Do what you love: Connect your Mind and Heart

It’s amazing how many people perform jobs and chose professions that they despise. Willing to spend countless hours if their life doing something that they hate. Their mind may be able to override the rebellion but they body cannot. This can lead to a myriad of physical complaints. Listen to your body’s inner wisdom. 

Gratitude: Connect with a higher power.

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Prayer, journaling or conscientiously paying homage to what you are truly grateful for is a powerful way to elevate your mood.

Meditation:

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Meditation is a great way to escape perseverating thoughts. People always say “ I should meditate, but I can’t…my mind won’t stop.” Erase the vision of yourself in full lotus for an hour with a blank mind. Guided mediation is a great, user-friendly way to get started. 20 minutes before bed or upon waking a great bookend for the day. Don’t be hard on yourself, your mind is bound to chatter. Meditation will help you “watch the chatter”. Even if you can’t get there immediately you will feel something different. Connect with your consciousness.

I personally love Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindful Meditations.

Fake it till you Make it:

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Smile more, listen to happy music. It’s hard to feel depressed listening to music that makes you shake. Connect with the muse.

Find a group that supports an activity you love.

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Martial arts, cooking, exercise, dancing, pottery, knitting…you name it and there are millions of people enthused by it! Connect with others in a meaningful way.

Read inspirational or educational books.

Millions of people have successfully navigated the world and have written books about how to do it. Connect with visionaries.
 

Spend time in Nature. Connect with the source.

In the eloquent words of John Muir “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”