CREDOS: Mindful surfing — I

Often when I’m meditating, I catch myself fantasising about surfing. My attention migrates from the breath to gliding on the steep face of a peeling wave. The water is warm. The wave is the colour of clear jade. After almost ten years of regular sitting and surfing, I’ve noticed that my surf fantasies have a different quality than other thoughts. I let them pass like any other distractions, but I also notice that visions of waves help me settle into the sit.

The ancient Hawaiian sport of the Gods, surfing never developed in India, China, Tibet, or Japan. But I’m convinced that it’s a Buddhist practice — a proper yoga and a great analogy for the mind.

After years of hanging out with a lot of Buddhists, a lot of surfers, and some Buddhist surfers, I’ve realised that many mediators are interested in surfing and vice versa. There’s an intuitive connection between the two activities. For many of you this connection will seem a little too hippy-dippy-1970s to take seriously. Nevertheless, it’s my experience. I am a Buddhist surfer. And in a world where Buddhist teachings can be pricey and genuine masters as hard to find as cheap sushi, I have let the ocean be my greatest teacher.

I remember listening to a dharma talk by one of my favourite teachers, Ajahn Amaro, a witty British monk who lives in a humble hut in the Mendocino Forest in northern California. He used a surfing metaphor to explain samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death. —