Breathe

What a strange concept; reminding myself to breathe. It’s quite remarkable how often we forget to consciously take in deep breaths.

I want to use this post as a reminder to appreciate the little things in life that can make a tremendous difference, like your breath. It’s something to really be grateful for.

Mindfulness and dealing with emotions

Breathing is an act that truly grounds you. Not only is it a necessary component to survive (thank you oxygen), but it’s also something that maintains your equilibrium.

This time of the year can be particularly stressful, especially if you’re in your final year at university. The projects, the workload, trying to apply for jobs, figuring out what’s going to happen next year; it can get a lot. I’ve also had to attend a number of virtual interviews over the past few weeks and if I’m being honest, they can be nerve-wrecking.

I almost always feel anxious or nervous before the call, and I can feel the way my body starts to react. I start taking shorter and shallower breaths, I start overthinking, I start sweating and I feel a tingly sensation in my tummy.

Despite that, I somehow make sure I remain confident and feel prepared. So how do I make sure I’m level-headed and calm? By slowing down my breathing.

This works so well whenever I’m faced with a daunting task or feeling overwhelmed. Just breathe.

Now is all you have

It’s come down to a very simple philosophy, understanding that we only have the present moment.

You can’t breathe yesterday, later or tomorrow. You can only breathe now.

You’re reminding yourself that life is temporary. Things comes and go, just like the breath. It’s ultimately about appreciating each and every breath; you don’t know when it will be your last.

Grounding practice

What you’re also doing here is conditioning your brain to focus on one thing at a time. It’s easy to lose focus when we’re anxious or stressed, because our thoughts are occupied with the past or future.

Breathing helps us remind our brains that the stories we make up in our heads aren’t actually real. They’re mental constructions that we’ve created.

We just need to constantly remind ourselves that. When in doubt, be grateful and focus on your breath.

Oxygen to your brain

There are even more benefits to deep breathing! This is so obvious but very often missed. When you breathe more meaningfully and consciously, you allow more oxygen to enter the body.

This further improves the circulation of oxygen entering your bloodstream and into your brain, which helps you focus. Spending some time in nature (surrounded by trees) can also really help with your breathing. The air is fresh and full of life.

“Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not the okay, it’s not the end.”

This short post is a gentle mindfulness reminder. Life will inevitably bring pain, the suffering is up to you. Look at things from a perspective of growth and learning. Keep track of the way your body reacts.

Remind yourself to breathe more often. You will get through this. You will survive. It sometimes seems out of reach, the finish line seems so far away, but I believe in you. I think you should too.

Mindful Surfing

There’s something about the ocean that’s just absolutely therapeutic. One of the best aspects of surfing is being surrounded by nature. The only thing on your mind is trying to catch the perfect wave.

This is an old pic, my long hair is still intact.

I love the moments in between waves when it’s just still. Nothing but you, the water and the breeze. Floating on the surfboard can definitely be a source of mindfulness.

Let’s explore aspects of being in the ocean, the consistency of the waves, as well as finding calmness and presence within the whole process.

The Ocean

How miraculous and marvelous? The ocean is probably one of the most powerful forces of nature. It constitutes around 71% of the planet and accounts for 97% of the water available to us. We’ve only explored around 5% of the ocean, imagine that? I think we need Tesla to move towards building advanced submarines instead of space ships.

We should definitely spend more time trying to understand what’s within our very own planet, since we take so much of it for granted.

I just want us to appreciate an integral part of our existence. For those of you who live by the coastal regions in South Africa, you understand why I’d be talking about this. We’re truly blessed, just for being able to admire God’s creation.

Let’s also talk about the immaculate consistency of the waves.

Waves

Something to do with the gravity of the moon, haha. Here’s a really dope video explaining how the rotation of Earth and the moon affect the tides and waves.

Apart from all the science, an aspect that I absolutely admire about waves are their consistency. There’s not a day that goes by without the waves pushing in and out, moving with the tide. Who are we not to follow our nature?

It always inspires me. No matter what your circumstances are, no matter how rough things may seem, you can still find a way to move forward. Even if it means making mental progress with your thought patterns.

Consistency truly is the key to mastery. There’s no place better than nature where we can learn that lesson. Have you also noticed how it can also be a source of calmness?

Calmness

The other beautiful aspect of being around nature is the calming effect it has on you. There’s just something about the ocean that makes the soul feel at ease (given you’re not stranded, in a storm or surrounded by sharks).

You’re calm when your mind isn’t distracted with anxious thoughts of the future, or worrying about the past. When your expectations are aligned with reality. When you’re able to fully embrace the present moment.

Mindfulness

When you’re paddling with all your might and trying your best to build up enough momentum, your mind is essentially clear. The only thing you’re worried about is timing your take off and avoiding a wipe out, haha.

When we’re able to mindfully enjoy being in the water, it’s another way of training our brain to stay present. Remember, if now is all we have, we need to learn to utilize it.

Feel the coldness of the water against your skin. The way your hair gets soaked and covers your face. The sand sneaking all over your skin. The adrenaline rush from actually catching a wave. These are just a few of the experiences that help us stay present.

I’d like to touch on one more incredible aspect of surfing, physics.

The physics of surfing

You may not realize it, but surfing has its fair share of scientific jargon. After all, floating on a board across a wave isn’t the simplest of things to do. Here’s a video explaining the physics behind surfing, for those of you who are interested.

I realize that I was speaking more about the ocean than anything in this post, but it’s one of the reasons why I love surfing. I’ve always been a beach bum, ever since I was a little child.

I just wanted to remind myself of how marvelous it truly is to be able to enjoy swimming in the deep unknown. It can be terrifying at times, but in the best possible way. I hope you’ve managed to gain a slightly new perspective on how epic surfing really is.

There’s so much that we can constantly learn from being in nature. Always remember to stay present.

A metaphor for life.

“You can’t control the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”