Today I read something that touched me on a personal level and made me reflect on my life. It happened when I was browsing the internet during my daily routine. Totally unexpected, but I’m happy it did, and amazed what role surfing and breathing played in this surfer’s life. This experience is shared by Rosemarijn Emilie, who lived and surfed the last couple of months in France:
Three months ago, I hit the emergency room with what seemed to be a heart attack. It was a diaphragmatic cramp. Feels the same, but fortunately it is something totally different. I have been struggling with chronic hyperventilation for a while apparently. This is something many people experience in modern day life. Holding up all your breath in your lungs, forgetting to take deep inbreaths and sigh out strongly every so often. Now I started to learn diaphragmatic breathing. It takes some time to change the habit.
Since I replaced from Amsterdam to the French coast it gets better. But here too, some big and small storms pass. And I try to hold on to my breathing like I’m holding on to a tree in the storm.
I’m ok. I’m good enough. This will pass. It will not swallow me up and take me on a wild ride. I can choose which wave to ride and which one to let pass under me. I can stay wherever I am and wait it out. I sway a little bit, like a tree in the wind, but when I take my time to breathe, I’m fine. I can go my own pace, dance my own rhythm, I don’t need to run. I just hold on to what I’ve got already. It’s enough. Just keep breathing.
Storms at the coast in France
It’s hard work, a deep and difficult practice. To keep cool when thunder and lightning, raving winds or glorious rainbows are passing by. When you feel it all and all the time.
After weeks of breathing in ocean air, walking through the forest, trying to ride the waves, and creating to let it all flow, I feel it is changing a bit.
Singing helps. And with it my intuition and inner guidance are getting stronger.
In a week I will move back to crazy-beautiful Amsterdam. I’m holding my breath… and let it go… I’ll keep breathing, go at my own pace, reconnect with my soul sisters and brothers, and take the next little big step.
I will find a place to live closer to the sea, so I can truly live my dharma name: Blissful ocean of the heart. I’ll share my world with ocean creatures and people who’d like to dig deep into what matters most to them.
It’s my wish, I’m breathing this.
What role did surfing play in your experience?
At the beginning of my two-month stay in France, I felt stressed and often afraid in the water. I was exhausted and my breathing was all wrong. Every time I went into the water I had to make a conscious and focused decision about what kind of spot, waves and conditions I was ready to surf. Through this, surfing made me stronger and gave me more confidence and self believe. With that my breathing improved as well. Little big steps, I like to call it: one little step makes a big impact on other areas in my life. Hence also the name of my coaching practice Littlebigsteps.nl.
The highlight occurred last weekend during a sunset session. I was surfing with the friend who took me to the emergency room. He told me he now saw a completely different person in the water than three months ago, more confident, relaxed and at ease in the waves.
A different person than three months ago
How does breathing and surfing relate to each other in your experience?
If I breath too shallow or too quickly, my central nervous system gets into a high alert state. Neck, chest and arm muscles tighten as a result of this and make surfing more difficult. When I use diaphragmatic breathing however, it makes me use my core more effective, which allows me to surf better. My whole body stays more relaxed and I have less chance of getting injured.
Even more importantly, this kind of breathing made me realize that I choose which wave to take. Before, I felt the waves were taking me. But I don’t need to take every wave to enjoy my session. The ocean can be wild, but as long as I choose my position consciously and stay calm by focussing on my breathing, I can be safe and can choose the waves I want.
How is this a metaphor for life?
My breath is like an anchor. Whenever I feel I’m in rough weather, I focus on my breathing. I imagine to be at a calm spot paddling up to the line-up. There, I catch my breath and choose which wave I want to surf and which one I want to let go. My surf experience makes this visualization extra powerful, so I can use it in daily life as well.