Ocean swimming and “overcoming barriers”

Awakening to the Ocean within

Overcomming barriers,

Is like jumping in the ocean,

And as the cold water rushes past your body,

There is an initial fright,

Perhaps even an “internal fight”,

Of emotions and thought?

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Things like; –

“Can I do this?”

“Should I do this?”

“Is life better on land?”

“Will it all not turn out like I had planned?”

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But who wants to live on the sand anyway?

Especially when we have a choice?

Why not listen to that inner voice?

Which is quietly saying,

“yes you can”

“Actually it ‘is’ part of the plan”

A plan of adventuring deep beneath the surface,

And exploring the inner world of possibility,

Excitement and flow,

A time to let go,

And become who you hadn’t even dream of,

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For with the first wave, whether you catch it or not,

You feel ALIVE!

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Alive within magic of the ocean,

Barriers broken,

For you dove through the fears and expectations of the mind,

You learned to be kind,

And in cold water its warmth that you did find,

A moments peace before the daily grind,

Or perhaps even better,

A chance to let go of the fetter once and for all,

And instead chosing to have a ball,

Whether you run or fall,

Knowing you can always stand tall,

In the solitiude of your heart.

7-1-19 Overcoming barriers, and moving through a sense of “inertia” has always been the most difficult challenge for me with any project, or task, be it getting up in the morning, going to work, starting a literature review, or even looking at my schedule.

Its funny but I often rationalise the inertia, and sometimes justify it, by the perceived magnitude of the task at hand. Ocean swimming is perhaps a great simulation of this process of “overcoming barriers”.

This morning when my partner Sanna and I went down for a body surf in North Wollongong, the sky was overcast, and the sea, from a distance didn’t look as inviting as it has done in recent times. This is the best time to observe oneself and one’s own resistance. For in this awareness one can see how easy it is to be trapped in the minds stories of doom a gloom, the river of “what if’s” and all its associated tributaries.

Thankfully instead of listening to these fleeing internal stories there was a pre-arranged commitment to go for a swim and a body surf. It was a cocktail of feelings of resistance, thoughts, followed by the experience of surrender and success, only they happened rather rapidly. Often when having a coffee after the body surf my memory cuts to the chase and all I seem to focus on is the second half of that mindful journey, which is where I have surrendered my fears, entered the ocean and started having incredible fun.

However, to really understand oneself and learn from one of the greatest teachers I know, “the ocean”, it pays to slow down this internal process, at least in reflection. You see, after getting in the water and meeting with a fright of what feels like “cold water” (and it isnt’ that cold, only relatively cold to the state of night time hibernation), the percieved chill was quickly replaced by an internal warmth of my bodies muscles being active, trying to catch a wave. This process usually only takes about two waves where I feel the water go over my head and immerse me in the ocean. Then I feel like I am amongst the magic of the ocean.

Then a big wave came and I greeted it with a duck dive, followed by another and another, and before you knew it I was out “the back”. Here I found myself surrounded by a community of friendly fellow swimmers and/or body surfers. Men and women, who had also courageously chosen to “take the plunge” early in the morning, only I’m sure they wouldn’t look upon their actions quite as magnaminously as that. Perhaps for them, they are just doing what they usually do – going for a swim. I just like to frame this in a more maginificent way.

Actually, in North Gong (the beach which is in the northern reaches of the city of Wollongong) there is a group of people who go out every day, all year round, mostly older men (and I am cautious to qualify this statement, for after all who am I to talk), and some ladies who also are part of this sublte local practice.

Today I saw a couple who we often meet down at the beach, both enjoying the ocean and all it’s viscitudes. These men who regularly go out have a colloquial name;– they are fondly known as “the corks” for often as you walk down the hill to the North Gong promenade after about 7:30am in the morning, you can often see their heads bobbing in the ocean waiting for the next wave, or if they haven’t reached the ocean yet you see them traversing from the North Gong Surf club to the waters edge, donning their blue and red stripped speedos laced with a white imprint of “North Gong” on their posteriors. The morning daily ritual of bodysurfing is a wonderful thing to both witness and be part of.

Overcoming Barriers – traversing through inertia…

The transition from cold to comfortable reminds me of several other instances of overcoming inertia. I remember when I lived in a shared study house in rural Sri Lanka whilst conducting experiements as part of my PhD research back in 2007-2009, I recall having a cold shower every morning. It was a welcomed experience because the outside temperature was a humid 27 degrees, which increased during the day. However, still there was a chill in my modest ensuite bathroom, where there was only cold water. I remember vividly the emotional wave of inertia, not wanting to get under the water, expecialy coming there from dreamy sleep state. However, after the initial chill of piped water exposure, I noticed a rapid period of “acclimatisation”. I felt there was a curious feeling of empowerment in this transition period. It was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable, in the same was as jumping in the ocean this morning, I felt “alive”. Then shortly following this period came a state of enjoyment of being in the water and sense of attachement to the steady state of having a cool shower in a hot environment. It was blissful, and I didn’t want to leave. Again the inertia state had arisen and had to be overcome in order to get on with my day. Getting out of the shower, drying off, having a cup of tea, breakfast, and writing, or going to the office – which ever it was.

Water is an incredible medium for taking us into different states. A shower can be magical, pool swimming magnificent, but and ocean swim – now this is what I call blissful. But perhaps more than all of these experiences, it is the “transition through the barriers of inertia” that can bring us many opportunities to become more alive!

Here’s to that journey – have a great day!

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An intention for 2019 – the power of “letting go”

The power of letting go

Letting go,

Is to go into a flow,

A state where you know what there is to know,

And where going slow, is okay,

For beyond what you say there is always “how you say it”?

And what about holding still,

Rather than simply chasing the next thrill,

For perhaps life is more than the bitter pill,

That you must swallow,

Emptiness is never hollow,

When one sees the nature of all that is.

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Eternal bliss is within the grasp of all,

If you are willing to take the fall and tumble,

Insteady of wanting to rumble for the greatest prize,

For in every deafeat there is a subsequent rise,

Beyond perceptions of power and size,

Happiness is but sorrow in disguise,

For only the wise know what is truly real,

And perhaps this begins with knowing “how we feel”,

Only to watching it change like the wheel,

Revolving and evolving,

And experiencing the beauty of the moment,

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This is when we have learned to let go,

It is not the end of the show,

But rather experiencing our performance stripped bare,

With or without flare,

And regardless we share our wisdom with the world,

A world where awareness comes with peace.

6-1-19

A new year, and reflections that follow. As this is the first post of the year I feel the pressure of expectation in the form of a feeling, and then I acknowledge, relinquish and let go.

I think the most profound realisations happen unexpectedly. For me, 2018 has been a significant year, one where there perhaps has been a development of a little bit more of inner awareness. Of course, there was the challenge of getting through my Emergency Medicine training which was an incredible personal achievement, and one that was a long time in the coming. However, there was also the discovery that the challenges of life do not end at this point. The true nature of life is that is every evolving in complexity, yet there is always the opportunty to stop, reflect and change perpective. This perspective comes with taking a moment to stop, sit, and be with onself.

This is the awareness, and habit that I was fortunate enough to discover in my mid-teens and further developed in my early 30’s. Put another way, this habit encompasses the ability, no matter how pressured I felt at the time, to take a moment to stop, and notice my breath. It sounds crazy, but in that moment there is promise of complete peace. In that moment one can realise that greatest questions of life remain unasked, and simultaneously answered in a language beyond words.

Perhaps it may seem like I am writing either complete giberish, some kind of cryptic code. None of these options are my intention. I do not profess to “know anything” but rather am trying my best to shae what came to me when I just now sat in silence of 10 minutes (referring to a short sit before writing this post).

In this space I realised that I had oppened a door to my subconcious, which seemed like a multidimensional repository of knowledge, wisdom and magic. Magic in the sense that it was increadible to see what lies beyond the surface, something that could not be predicted (in a way that the analytical mind is so skilled at doing).

Just a few days ago, on the 2th of Jan I had the opportunity to partake in a “Dhane” (a daily giving ceremony to help the monastic community survive) held at the Santi Forrest monastry in Bundanoon (in NSW, Australia). It was a great gift to be able to hear the Buddhist nuns and monk speak a few words of wisdom before eating the food that was uncerimoniously offered to them, and then partake in the shared meal. I was also able to set quietly in the coolness of the man made gave, nearby the main monastry building. This took me to a space I have longed to re-visit for some time now. On this day i had two separate sits, where I noticed my breath for 1 hour at a time. In that moment of spending time within myself, away from thrill seeking holidays, work and a never ending collection of “to do lists” which can easily infuse one’s semblance of a peaceful life, there was a momentary shift in my perspective of life for the better.

A reflection on 2018 , and an intention for 2019…

So looking back at 2018 , I am compelled to make a comment about three books that changed my life for the better. Brene Brown’s “The power of Vulnerability”, and Kaushik Ram’s, “The hidden world”, and the most recently completed book called “Letting Go” by David Hawkins.

I could write at length with reflections about each of these books, but perhaps in a conglomerate summation I can say that in their own way this – the secrets ourselves and the world that we experience also lie within ourselves. I am grateful for the teachings that I inferred from reading/listening to these books.

We can easily be burdened by negative patterns of thinking that often operate at a subconscious level. There are strategies to overcome this and perhaps it will not be readily accepted by the thinker within us, for perhaps it is this very process of excessive thinking that goes against the very thing that we are seeking, in my case “the path of inner peace”, and perhaps “letting go” is the vehicle that can help us voyage down that path.

I certainly don’t profess to know the answers to the questions of life, but what I do know is that I have an intention and aspiration for 2019, and that is to take a step down that path.

What is your intention for 2019?