You don’t have to surf, to tap into the meditative power of the ocean. People tend to only think of meditation as a quiet pursuit that requires stillness. Stillness can help bring awareness to our surroundings, but activity can also raise awareness, bring on a meditative state. A beach-going practice, even if it’s a sand garden on your table top, can bring the peace of the ocean to you.
These at-home meditation practices can help you find that surfer vibe.
Be in the moment
When you immerse yourself in the churning water of the Pacific Ocean, you become immersed in the present. The next wave can reach you quickly, so you scan the horizon. If the wave coming in is large, you might decide to duck-dive underneath. You have to be in the moment. This practice of observing, being totally present for the waves, the foam, the sky, can extend its benefits everyone, anywhere.
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Bring the ocean to you
Imagine yourself at the beach. Can you feel the texture of the sand? Is it powdery sand, coarse sand, or a stony shore? What’s in the air; spray, salt, seaweed? Are the intervals between waves long or short? Where is the sun? Does the water thrill for its cold?
Visualization, practicing seeing something you want to do, is now accepted practice among top athletes. Bring success or relaxation into your mind, and it becomes a part of who you are.
Meditation practices that open our awareness to each moment
Maybe you can’t jump into a wild ocean, but your senses can be activated quickly using simple practices at home. To train the mind to observe your surroundings, think of engaging the senses.
- Burn incense or kitchen herbs
- Fragrant oils in eucalyptus and mint leaves can be crushed between the fingertips
- Boil cinnamon
- Look toward the earth. Dirt. Leaves. Gravel. Mud. Worms. Paying attention to the cycle of decay and fertility has valuable lessons. A small pan filled with sand and a few stones can be “combed” with a fork daily to mimic the art of Zen landscaping.
- Look toward the sky. Blue clear sunshine or gray misty blanket above can help put everything in a bird’s eye perspective.
- Colors are known to connect us to senses. Surround yourself with cold or warm, dark or light, bright or neutral. Just be conscious of your choices. Think about why you chose them. Color chips from the paint store can help you expand your color vocabulary.
- Temperature changes can awaken the senses. At the end of a warm shower, try ending with cold water, think of jumping into the sea! Minerals like Epsom salts can nourish muscles with added magnesium even if you can’t get to ocean. You can visualize floating in the salty water, hands, feet, or whole body.
- Texture can be especially evocative if we don’t have access to the ocean. Take off your socks! Walk on tile, on gravel, on sand, on wood. Even walking on concrete can awaken an appreciation of the present moment – why does it feel warm in this spot? The sun has set, but the sidewalk holds solar radiation. That’s why that lizard likes it there too.
- Hearing has been shown to associate memory. Create new memories with sound. Think of yourself as a sound engineer to the soundscape of your life.
- Create playlists; ambient sounds, chants, folk music, Beach Boys, or EDM can add to the beach-going practices with which you experiment.
- Everyday objects; notice the sound of the cutlery drawer, stirring tea with a wooden spoon, even the sound of joyful children playing downstairs. Instead of dismissing a sound with annoyance, observing it can add to the quality and tranquility of your life.
- Pick up your piano, play your guitar. Or a pennywhistle flute is portable, and an easy instrument to pick out melodies, if you don’t have space for a large one.
- We don’t often think of taste when we think of the beach. But what is a more important spice than sea salt? What is a more essential vegetable than seaweed? It’s now easy to find small packs of roasted seaweed, your tongue and vitality with thank you for the tasty Umami and crunchy experience.
- At the beach we often bring simple food to eat throughout the day. Sardines, fresh green chile, bread or rice exemplify the practice of simple living. You don’t need processed food or soda. A receptacle with fresh water profoundly delights the senses.
The intertidal zone is considered one of the most violent habitats in which to live, the extremes of dry and inundated sand, hot and cold, quiet then crashing waves that over time turn boulders into sand. Yet we all like to visit the shore for relief, for renewal, for recreation. In fact, because it’s an environment that isn’t easy or exactly comfortable is what makes us chill, relax. It makes us take off our shoes, strip off our clothes, and find the happiness of sunshine on the skin. One of the most profound lessons of the ocean is that you don’t need much to be happy. You don’t need expensive things at the beach, or for a beach meditation practice at home. And everyone will understand if you don’t answer your phone. You were surfing!