Open Awareness, Visualisation

Surf’s Up


When I first started meditating I bought into the clever marketing campaign of all that it promised to do: decrease my stress, become comfortable with change, make me happier.

Which is all true – except it’s taken me a long time to realise how it would do those things. I naively thought meditation would somehow make all my problems disappear – that by meditating I could protect myself from future stress and anxiety; pain and anger and fear.

In many ways meditation makes you feel those emotions even more strongly (and on the plus side, the positives ones too) – but what leads to the de-stress and the calm and happiness is the realisation, as Dan Harris often puts it, that we can ride these waves of emotion – the ripples and the tsunamis.

What meditation teaches us is to be the surfer.

So, c’mon – grab your board. Surf’s up!

Meditation teaches us to surf – the vast ocean that is the mind.

Teeming with life – our thoughts, fears and desires – the mind is constantly changing, always creating, ever evolving.

A wise surfer soon learns there’s very little they can do about the ocean. They can set up the conditions for a great surf – check the weather and the surf report, arrive early, wax their surfboard – but once they’re out there, they can’t ‘will’ the perfect wave just because they were prepared and wanted it.

All they can do is work with what the ocean serves them.

All they can do, is let go of the expectation of what kind of surf this is going to be, and simply be a surfer.

Be a surfer. And ride the waves.

The wise surfer is patient. And knows how to tread calm waters. Not focusing on what they’re missing out on but basking in the stillness. Building up energy reserves, bobbing along with the ripples. Resting in spaciousness, knowing the exhilaration of the next big wave will come soon enough.

The wise surfer takes opportunities. They see a great wave forming and they get ready to work hard. Turning to face the shore, kicking, paddling, standing. Staying centered and balanced and using the strength of the wave to move them where they’re headed.

The wise surfer faces their fears. The unknown of what’s lurking deep beneath. A wave that’s way over their head. Not knowing whether they’ll be thrown off unceremoniously or if they’ll surprise themselves with what they can achieve. They face the unknown and tackle it anyway.

And the wise surfer knows when to take cover. That tsunamis aren’t meant to be ridden and to try to would only mean self-sabotage. They see the tsunami coming and know to get out of its way. They don’t take it personally. Tsunamis affect everyone. And just like all those other ones, this one too, will pass.


In this meditation let’s get better at being the surfer by getting to know the ocean. Becoming immersed in our mind.

If you like, you can imagine resting on a surfboard. Or floating like a jellyfish.

Experiencing the calm waters of pure awareness. And the waves of our thoughts and emotions.

Choppy froth of frustration or restlessness.

An overwhelming deluge of rage or depression.

A perfectly formed barrel of exhilaration or achievement.

Lapping ripples of calm abiding contentment.

Just being the surfer whatever conditions our mind’s ocean presents us.

Riding the waves. Or resting in stillness.

Just being the surfer, using the innate skills we have within us.

Patience. Curiosity. Courage. Discernment.

Just being the surfer. With our board. And our acceptance.

And when you’ve finished this meditation try seeing what it’s like to ride the currents of everyday life – just like the wise surfer.

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