Tides of Change
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf…”
Living by the water for the last month has given me an even stronger respect for the surfing community. You only have to watch from the shoreline to realise that this is a sport steeped in ritual and tradition. The relationship surfers have with the ocean is innate yet finely tuned on a daily basis. In essence a good surfer knows when to take a wave and use its energy and when not to.
We can learn a lot about what going with the flow means from these wise wave seekers. Very often in yoga circles this phrase is used to describe moments of letting go and surrendering.
It’s an important lesson – most of us hold onto the reins of our lives too tightly at times, and both vinyasa flow and yin in particular can really help us loosen the patterns of excess control we have in our bodies and behaviour. However, I would argue there are also periods in our lives when going with the flow can be unhelpful – when it actually disconnects us, rather than reconnects us, with our life force and energy.
At these times we need form and foundation more than freedom and flow.
So, how do you work out when to fully let go and when not to?
It’s such a huge question but going back to the analogy of the surfers might just help…
Even before paddling into the water they take action.
Firstly, with great awareness, they observe and discuss the currents – tapping into their experience and the community’s wisdom.
Next, they tend to their bodies and boards – donning wetsuits, waxing equipment and stretching limbs.
Then it is time to paddle out – moving against the waves requires a lot of effort and stability but is made worthwhile by the ride back in.
Once a surfer takes up residence in her or his patch of ocean, the waiting game begins. This is true meditation in action.
Finally, the moment when head, heart and hard work come together – the surfer chooses to take a wave. Working with it, they get transported and feel transcended by the waves’ energy towards land.
You’re probably wondering ‘How does this helps me when I feel stuck and am struggling with a choice or direction?’
Well, here’s a checklist, inspired by our water-loving friends, to help you create harness your own momentum when life throws up a problem or a season of stagnation.
Assess. By reviewing and acknowledging the factors at play you can make choices much more consciously. This is a first step in putting you back in the driving seat of your own metaphorical board.
Ask. Get support in any area that you need it. So often we wait until we are really struggling to reach out but this ends up being so counterproductive and time wasting.
Act. This can be a real sticking point for us when we are unsure about a next step in life. But, most people fall down here because the first step is too big! The key is to take baby steps, remember surfers tend to do a weather assessment before taking a wave.
Align. Once you have made the first move towards the goal, it is time to ensure that your values and your action are in alignment. Breath work and bodywork are both great tools for helping you stay on track at this point.
Awareness. Just like the surfer waiting on a board, this step can’t be rushed. A regular practice of checking in with how you are feeling inside and noticing the inner voices is invaluable. Only when you have this narrative of awareness can you merge inner and outer landscapes effectively.
Allow. With all that preparation you can now really let go and trust the process of change to happen. By this point you have laid the foundations through knowledge, support and other practical tools. However, to fully enjoy and experience the magic of flow in your life you need to trust and release the outcome.
Like a surfer, we could expend a lot of energy and time overthinking how things will turn out but ultimately it is a certain feeling that is our real motivation and destination.
When we apply these practical steps to any area of our life that is out of sync we are able to get back on board and be carried rather than stay stuck in the sand or a rip.