Surfing – Live in the Moment
Why are Surfers so Laid Back?
Surfing for me started back when I was just 6 years old. My two older brothers were surfers, so, of course, I was going to be a surfer too. It was one of the best peer pressure decisions I’ve ever made.
Since that first day I inched my toes into the ocean, my whole life changed. I have been invigorated each and every time I get into that salty blue realm.
Not only do I surf on the waves, but I do everything else imaginable on or within the ocean. I have sailed the great Pacific Ocean from Mexico to the South Pacific, I am an accomplished scuba divemaster and have dove on hundreds of amazing reefs and wrecks worldwide and I love to body surf, among all the other things I do in or on the ocean. Surfing was my gateway drug. It offers the cleanest and purest high you can ever get.
So, Why is Surfing so Great?
Well, the simple answer is that you forced to, “live in the moment”, when you surf. Catching a wave is not as simple as paddling and dropping in and then standing up on a board. There are a million variables and your brain is making thousands of calculations each and every second. You have no choice but to be in the moment. There is no, “self-talk” where your brain is engaged like this. Your brain even releases chemicals like adrenaline, serotonin, endorphins and dopamine.
This stoke factor applies to young and old, from accountants to teachers. Being stoked from surfing also has enormous psychological and physiological effects on people.
Surfing is Therapeutic
Giving back to others is something my wife and I share. Recently, while volunteering as a surf instructor for Urban Surf 4 Kids, I got to see how surfing changes children for the better. We help foster youth and other disadvantaged youth learn about the ocean and we can see them change for the better almost instantly. As mentioned, when surfing, you are living in the moment, so all the challenges of life, big and small are gone while you’re in the water. At the end of the day, you can see that these children have changed, even if in one small way, for the better. The experience of being on the waves and the feeling of being free really enhances their self-worth and independence.
Volunteering is also a great way to meet others and I met an altruistic guy named, Van who runs Amazing Surf Adventures, which is a non-profit that helps wounded and injured active duty military and veteran heroes experience surfing and the healing benefits that come with it. The organization is more than just surfing, it is a true healing and therapeutic experience that has outstanding results. Dr. Russell Crawford did a study on these new surfers and was amazed to find: a 36% decrease in PTSD, a 47% decrease in depression and an outstanding 68% increase in self-efficacy. Surfing and the program at ASA may lead to higher self-esteem, strengthened coping skills and lower rates of suicide.
An Amazingly Healthy Lifestyle
Surfers on the whole are extremely healthy and fit. When you think of surfers, you may think about that perfect beach body and you’re pretty close to correct. Although, I have seen every shape and size out there in the lineup, waiting for a wave. Once you become a true surfer, you may see a few changes in yourself. You may want to take up yoga, so you’re a little more limber and lessen your chance of getting hurt. You may begin to eat a little healthier, because paddling out when being overweight is a challenge. There are so many benefits to being a surfer that it outweighs the off chance that you may be eaten by a shark (The odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067).
It’s also been studied that big wave surfers redline their heart rate at 90% of their maximum during a three-hour surf session and spike at 180-200 beats per minute when riding a huge wave. This is one of the longest prolonged heart rates ever recorded. That’s one fit surfer.
Be in the Moment
As the population grows, the surfing lineup grows too. Hopefully, by reading this, you will want to get out there and try it as well. I would like to welcome new surfers because I believe everyone should see the beauty, the therapy and the stoke that comes from this amazing experience. Come on down to the beach and look for me. I’ll be the one with the biggest smile on my face and living in the moment.
If you’re landlocked and can’t make it to the beach, and/or want to help someone else enjoy the stoke, please donate to these amazing organizations:
Amazing Surf Adventures