August 14, 2023

How the Ocean can help Cleanse our Mind & Soul.

Today’s yoga on the beach was powerful.

My mind called out to the ocean through the entire 90-minute sequence.

Whenever my thoughts carried me to unpleasant places, I closed my eyes, and let the waves fill my ears with their sound. They were coming for me, bubbly and consistent and endlessly reaching.

I don’t surf, but the ocean is where I give everything away. My prayers. My pleas. My gratitude. My tears. Sometimes even my fury because I know she can take it. The ocean isn’t put off by any emotional human raging on the sand and feeling it all.

The ocean takes it all because she feels it too—she rages, she cries salty tears, and she holds us all afloat.

Who was it that said we are a drop in the ocean, but really we are the ocean in one drop?

I know I am not remembering that quote quite right, but somehow thinking about the ocean outside reflecting all my inside turmoil this week feels aligned. There is a familiar comfort to it. Every splashy shade of blue greys, and sometimes a heart-warming green, frothing and cleansing all at once.

Cleansing all that we go through. Disappointment. Uncertainty. Hope. Encouragement. Offering our strength up for others but struggling to find strength for ourselves at times.

Movement is what can help shift it all out and away. When anxious or angry thoughts spin in our mind, it’s movement our thoughts seek. The cyclone of worry in our head circling before these thoughts find their way out through our mouths, our written words, or our bodies. That’s why the gym, a run, yoga, yelling, or even throwing a few punches is the next thing our thoughts and emotions create. Movement. Energy. The thoughts rumble up our emotions and seek release.

Learning to release without losing our balance can feel impossible. In one moment, we think we have our lives under control until another tumbling-down moment comes along and knocks us off our barstool like some beastly sailor.

What the heck, man? You know how long it takes me to re-perch? To find my balance and center myself high?

I never like sitting down at tables in bars or cafes. I prefer the freedom and movement being perched on a barstool gives me, especially if it swivels. I love scanning the room and hopping off to hug a familiar face. I love being seen and approachable by other friendly faces, and not barricaded behind a table laden with community nachos. I want quick access to the dance floor when my favorite song shouts out from the speakers.

When I think about how my body responds to stress and what my mind needs to calm, I think about places and movements that return me to a space of feeling centered. The sunset; a beachfront barstool serves me this. My ocean-facing yoga palapa presents me this. The ocean herself, rolling in the distance, offers me this. Centered and calmed.

After a six-week writing hiatus peppered with bed-bounding pneumonia, travel through three countries, a parade of house guests, and living a life that never ceases to shake things up, I’m finally feeling re-centered.

We are halfway through the year. Maybe we are kicking some goals, and maybe we are shifting and extending others. All we can do is keep our minds clear of self-doubting residue and stay focused. I almost wrote “Keep our eyes on the prize,” but that’s like some kind of horsesh*t.

Sometimes we desperately need to close our eyes, breathe in deeply, knowing that when we are ready to open them, we won’t see the discouraging thoughts still swirling, but we’ll see our forward path more clearly.

Near the final yoga postures, past the balancing and the warriors, the down and up dogs, the roaring roll of the ocean just beyond, I remembered something important: that all these tumultuous moments, the moments that seem to undo me…they all will pass.

But more importantly, I remembered that when these painful moments pass, when their fearful energy has been dissolved, I will still be here.

I will still be here, collecting myself and re-centering. Remembering who I am and what I want to be feeling.

I remember what I want to be doing.

Writing at my desk. Perched on a sunset barstool. Savasana-ing under a beach palapa. Comforting my mind with the sound of the ocean crashing into herself, and reviving my skin with the raw, salty cool of her.

I will still be here.

We will still be here.

Let the tumbling moments crash and break and knock you over and down, then let them roll and bubble away again.

Let your sweaty, salty, breathless movements release each frightful moment, and when they’ve released and passed, you will still be here. Perched upright. Centered. Hopeful. And Calm.


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