Surfing the Spiritual Sport

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Surfing the Spiritual Sport
Over the last few years, I’ve taken up summer surfing in a major way. For me, it’s an exhilarating and dangerous sport — and a spiritual experience.

It’s fun, but I still prefer my bikini.

It all began when my first company, Social Diva, hosted several day trips from NYC that involved yoga and surfing. We transported about 40 people to the beach, offered yoga on the sand and optional surf lessons for those who wanted them. I took a few of the lessons myself. During my first lesson, I managed to stand up on the first wave. My 17-year-old instructor was impressed.

“Are you sure you’ve never surfed before?” he asked. I was flattered by high praise from such a young, cool surfer. I said no, figuring I didn’t need to tell him about that one time when I was 17 myself.

The only thing I remember from that experience is that I immediately thought, This is not for me. I’ll stay and look good in my bikini on the beach instead.

Said differently, I enjoyed my lesson. I thought surfing was super fun, but I wasn’t hooked yet.

When I got hooked

But it seems the power of surfing is more of a sticky sport than I first realized. For example, during Social Diva’s event, one attendee came out of the water with a bloody knee.

“Wow, are you OK?” I asked.

“Oh my god,” she responded. “That was awesome!!!!”

I was amazed, but it wasn’t until two summers ago that I woke up one morning and realized I wanted to learn how to surf myself. When I asked a good friend who’s known for taking newcomers into the water to teach me, he offered to take me on the spot.

“Now?” I asked “OK! Let’s go!”

This time around, I wiped out on the first wave and hit my head. I hit it so hard that I needed to go into shore and take something called a “surfer’s cold shower.” The cold water made me scream, but it was partly from pleasure. I was so excited to be surfing!

The spiritual journey

As I continued surfing, I found paddling, getting up and riding a wave to be absolutely exhilarating. At times, wipeouts were easy. Other times, they were terrifying. A few times, while being tousled under water, I felt extreme fear that I was about to die.

Through it all, I experienced a lot of unexpected support from the guys in my life who also happen to surf. Every time something happened, they’d say, “Oh yeah, that’s happened to me.” That sense of community encouraged me to keep at it during those first few tries, and they still do.

Plus, every time I resurface above and the water, I get calm again. And I wonder why I bothered with fear at all.

Today, I surf often during the summer. The conditions can change daily or even hourly at the same surf spot, and I like that I keep going back, regardless. In a sense, I’m cultivating perseverance.

Plus, the entire experience is richly spiritual. There’s the beauty of the ocean, the sky, the beach. These surf spots, to me, are what heaven will feel like. Sitting on the board, whether I’m waiting for waves or resting, is a simple meditation.

Ultimately, surfing is a metaphor. Moving through the waves is like moving through life. Sometimes the waves are bigger than others, but you just keep on paddling — no matter if you just wiped out gently or pretty hard. Of course, the best moments are those when I catch a perfect ride and ride all the way to shore. It’s exhilarating, empowering and beautifully spiritual.

Surf’s up.

The Dalai Lama On How Technology Influences Our Daily Lives (VIDEO)
With more than 8 million Twitter followers, the outside observer may assume that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama knows a thing or two about (mindfully) employing technology. But even though he called the existence of digital devices “wonderful,” he warned that they can also stand in our way — if we let them.

“I think technology really increases human ability. It [made] a lot of things much easier,” he told HuffPost Live host Willow Bay. “But technology cannot produce compassion.”

The Dalai Lama also explained that even though our phones and computers are so integrated into our lives, it’s important not to let them control how we’re living.

“After all, we are the controllers of the technology and if we become slaves of technology, that’s not good,” he said.

Check out the clip above for more on the usefulness of our digital devices and watch the full interview with the Dalai Lama over on HuffPost Live.

For more on the Third Metric, click here.

Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski are taking The Third Metric on a 3-city tour: NY, DC & LA. Tickets are on sale now at thirdmetric.com.

What The Dalai Lama Thinks Of The Mindful Revolution
In the past year, the idea of mindful living has gotten significant attention in the media and in pop culture. But is mindfulness simply a trend, or is there a real “mindful revolution” underway?

HuffPost Senior Editor Willow Bay sat down with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Los Angeles on Feb. 26 to get his take on the growing cultural focus on mindfulness. The Tibetan spiritual leader explained that while mindfulness has been closely linked to religious faith in the past, it’s now re-emerging as we search for deeper meaning in this materially abundant, constantly-connected digital world.

“Up to the late part of the century, people were very much concerned about material value,” the Dalai Lama told HuffPost Live. “People [are beginning] to feel the limitation of material value. And people have a lot of money, but are not necessarily happy deep inside.”

Mindfulness is also a key component of good health, according to His Holiness.

“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health,” said the Dalai Lama.

Greater meaning in life and better health? Mindfulness might be here to stay after all.

Watch the live-broadcast conversation in the HuffPost Live clip above.

3 Steps to End Any Argument
Much of the stress we encounter in life stems from conflicts that aren’t resolved well — or aren’t resolved at all. Perhaps it’s the argument with your wife that ended in a yelling match (or the silent treatment). Or maybe there’s a recurring conflict between you and your boyfriend that never quite gets resolved, and you sense a lingering resentment between the two of you.

Arguments are a normal part of life — it’s certainly not expected that you never disagree with the people that you care about. But what can help is finding a way to disagree that doesn’t drive a wedge between the two of you. Wouldn’t it be a relief if there were a way to end an argument more effectively, bringing the two of your towards a common ground?

Just such a strategy does exist, and we’ll explore in this blog how to do it. In this approach, there are three steps to ending an argument effectively: 1) Ask 2) Validate 3) Join. Next time you’re faced with an escalating argument, employ these three steps.

1. Ask. This step involves taking a step back from the argument and asking the other person to let you summarize their position to make sure you understand it correctly. You might say, “Let me make sure I understand where you’re coming from,” or “I want to make sure I’m hearing your point of view correctly.” Then, paraphrase what you believe is the issue based on their point of view. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, because typically in an argument you are trying to make a case for your side. But that’s exactly why it’s so effective. When people argue, they are desperately trying to get their perspective heard. So when you stop explaining your side — and start listening to their side — it makes the conversation much more manageable. By ending the power struggle to be heard, it allows the other person to feel less defensive.

2. Validate. After you correctly identify the person’s perspective about the problem, the next step is to validate how they feel about the problem. Validating doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other person’s perspective, but it does show that you know where they’re coming from. You might say, “I can see how you’d feel that way,” or “It makes complete sense that you’d feel that way given the situation.” To do this, focus on the parts of the other person’s argument that are legitimate and that you can relate to. Showing that you understand where he or she is coming from allows the other person to let their guard down, and makes them more likely to be willing to look at things from your perspective.

Validating their perspective also sets a respectful tone to the conversation. It shows that you respect the person and their feelings, even if their perspective isn’t necessarily the same as your own. You can then proceed to explain your position, with the understanding that they also may see things differently, but that what’s important is that you understand where each other is coming from.

3. Join. The last step is essential. This is where you join with the other person, showing the other person that you both ultimately want the same thing: to resolve the conflict and maintain the relationship. You might say something like, “We’re on the same side here, not against each other. I want to work this out together.” By brining up the fact that your relationship is more important than the argument, it puts things in perspective. Yes, the issue at hand is important to you both, but your relationship together is ultimately what really matters. Joining with the other person also defuses the angry emotions or coldness that might be building, because it reminds you both that you do care for each other.

Resolving an argument in this way can take some practice, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll find it’s much more effective than withdrawing, yelling, or putting each other down. When you start to end arguments in this way, it helps you be less avoidant of conflict because you know you can resolve it in a manner doesn’t hurt your relationship.

And remember, just because an argument ends badly the first time around, it’s never too late to make a second attempt. You can approach the other person and tell them you didn’t like the way things went the first time around. Let them know you want to try again. You might say, “I didn’t like how our argument ended last time, and I’m sorry I walked away. Can we try again? I want to make sure I’m hearing your perspective…” Then begin a new conversation, using the three outlined steps.

Shannon Kolakowski, PsyD is a psychologist, author and relationship expert. Her work has been featured in Redbook, Men’s Health Magazine, Shape.com, ParentMap, and eHarmony. Her new book, When Depression Hurts Your Relationship: How to Regain Intimacy and Reconnect With Your Partner When You’re Depressed is now available. Visit her online at www.drshannonk.com.

Why I’ve Never Truly Let Love in Before
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. — Rainer Maria Rilke

Last week I found this piece when searching for another story to submit for the Welcomed Consesnsus Sensual Story contest. I wrote this four years ago. This is not my current life story. I’ve always loved Rainer Maria Rilke’s book Letters to a Young Poet. Having read it first in my 20s, I can now say three decades later, it is true that by living everything, you do indeed live into your answers. This boy is happily married elsewhere to someone who answers all his questions. They both deserve their bliss and I wish them everlasting health and infinite time to enjoy their love.

February 2010:

The Boy has been incredible. He’s been with me for 115 hours. We had a date set up for last Saturday. I’d said he could come over at 3 p.m.. I let him walk over this time, as I was so busy processing my own fears from the previous day’s little dance with the cancer doctor.

He arrived at 3:30. He’d asked if he could also be with me in the evening. After being in a relationship with me since July 16, he’d been kept on a very long leash. I would only see him when he was behaving and not pressuring me. In the beginning, for the first two weeks, I think we were together almost constantly. I couldn’t take in enough of his hands on me. His over the top Italian passion after 12 years with a rigid Protestant was like finally getting some sun after a decade under ground.

It’s not that we didn’t have problems. We did and because of this our time together dwindled over the days. I’d gotten to the point that I couldn’t take him in because all the pressure to let him in more often overwhelmed me. I remember in the very beginning, this man who has never had a computer, threw a tiny tantrum when I left his side to sit in front of my desk computer. I’d come to realize that he was like a man who’d been on a deserted island for the last 15 years, since he got sick and life as he knew it ended for him.

Before my diagnosis, I even remember thinking that he was the cause for one of the nodules that felt like it was growing and which was the main reason why I was spooked enough to see Mom’s cancer doctor. I thought that letting him go, in other words, breaking up this last time, which was the sixth or seventh time in as many months, was the reason the nodule seemed to disappear.

And yet, ever since Saturday he has been calm, supportive, encouraging and patient. He’s cooked for me. He’s massaged me constantly. He even wore a pair of my Victoria Secret flannel pajamas and let me take his picture. He has been the epitome of reassurance that this bout with cancer will not wreak havoc in my life.

One day he sat behind me as I wrote a blog. Another day he sat on the couch reading a cookbook while I worked in my office on the computer. Yesterday he said, “I have to let you do what you do so you can be who you must be.” This is a man who loves not only every inch of me, but also the vast volumes of me inside that can’t be seen or touched. He says to me, “I love how you do things. I watch you constantly. Everything you do, you do with all you have and even when you are zoning out, something within is still ticking away inside.”

He speaks with authority when he talks about how he couldn’t let his illness take away his every single day even though the fear of having another seizure grips him almost every morning. He talks about structure, discipline, feeling good about doing what he say he’ll do and having that good feeling of accomplishment keep him buoyant. I reflect simultaneously on how rarely I do what I say I’ll do and how often I feel badly I don’t keep my own word.

They say you can’t love another if you don’t love yourself. This also works if you reverse the concept. You can’t let another love you, if you won’t love yourself. Why is being in love with the self so tough? Why, for all these years, regardless of what I accomplished or how much others loved me, I couldn’t truly let love in?

There are all kinds of culprits; Madison Avenue, unconscious parenting, organized religion’s belief that robed patriarchal MAN OF GOD is the only access plebeians have to contact the higher powers, school systems which use competition to root out less worthies for advancement and of course peer pressure to conform or be ousted.

Why must humans cut other humans down rather than do the work of feeling feelings that feel bad and learning how to integrate what said feelings teach an individual about themselves. Why is honestly accessing one’s innermost depths so shunned, not only in Communist China but also in almost all countries on the planet?

Why is self-image so twisted and often altered from the way that other people see the soul in question? Most of us worry so much if others will accept us, that we totally overlook the question of whether we accept ourselves.

My mother use to say, “You either have the highest self-esteem or the lowest self-esteem.” This was because I didn’t focus much on what I was wearing or whether my hair was in place. I never focused on fashion and couldn’t be bothered to compete with others in the external appearance department. The Boy said last night; “I love you regardless of what you wear. I love that we can hang together and not shower for three days.” Then we hugged each other and took a shower together.

He said, “If and when you lose your hair, I’m going to shave my head. You aren’t going to go through this alone.” I have to examine of course, if I’m using him? If this situation is fair to him? And yet, his company, his words of wisdom about how to live with an illness, how to not let it take over your life is like manna to my ears around the clock.

I’ve never truly let love in before. I’ve felt the picture with the person didn’t fit the picture in my head. Yet, a few morning’s ago, when I woke up and found he wasn’t in bed beside me I can’t truly express how I felt when I found him on my couch, with my black glasses on his black eyes reading my IMMORTAL LOVERS book. Can I say I swooned and you’ll know what I mean? Can I say the picture for that moment lined up just perfect and I could see it clearly for the first time? I guess I can say anything I want to say because he told me I could. And in truth, I know that what I think transpires, and I’m really devoted to healing my negative self-talk which I’ve allowed to get the best of me for most of my life.”

Living the doubts, living the fears, living the pain of pressure, living the release of pressure, living the relationship and living the solitude, one steps day by day into one’s real home that no one can take away from you.

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