Big Wave Mindfulness: Surf for a connection

Meditation and Surfing

Surfing is mindfulness in action. Riding the biggest waves is a complete, fully present-or-the-trying proposal. Thanks to a persistent case of aquaphobia, I have never tried to surf. But I did it …

Surfing is mindfulness in action. Riding the biggest waves is a complete, fully present-or-the-trying proposal.

Thanks to a persistent case of aquaphobia, I have never tried to surf. But I’ve done my part of snowboarding, and I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to carve the slopes with several tons of avalanches chasing me down the mountain. First I would have to hike up and wait to catch the biggest avalanche while being beaten by several. Oh, and then don’t try too much about the hideous snowman ready to take a guy out of my leg when I least expect it.

Yes. I’m goaded.

I don’t really surf, but I’m in awe of it. It is impossible to recognize the recognition of the strength, timing, grace, and heartbreaking courage required to catch these enormous waves, let alone ride them smoothly without extinguishing them.

Huge Wave Mindfulness

Whether you are in the water or not, “Riding Giants” is a breathtaking film that is guaranteed to increase your pulse rate. After the rise of big wave surfing from its ragtag roots in the 1950s to today’s jet ski-reinforced endorsement deals, “Riding Giants” offers a fascinating view of surf culture in all its guts and glory – quite not to mention her sun-bleached hair, wave-toned body and many precancerous skin cells.

Clark discovered the monstrous waves from the cliffs of Half Moon Bay as a teenager. One day he decided to paddle half a mile in cool sea water to check it out. No matter that he was too far out for his worried friend – or anyone else – to save him. Forget that these waves would turn out to be so huge that seasoned professionals from Waimea would find them blatant years later. Disregard the razor-sharp rocks waiting to chew someone unfortunate enough to be knocked up on the shore.

Clark had his first of many life experiences that day. He couldn’t believe the strength, the magic, the unimaginable thrill.

He went out every day to surf this incredible vortex. Alone. For fifteen years.

I suspect that his parents were either a) unsuspecting where he was, or b) powerless to prevent him from returning. He couldn’t find anyone who was insane enough to join auto surfing.

Riding the Wave

He didn’t do it for attention, for the chicks, for the cameras, or for the money. He was out there and was hit because of the big grin on his face and the unfathomable feeling of being connected to something bigger than himself.

Clark was like a modern ascetic who defied tortuous rites and death defying beliefs while living in seclusion. He became one with the water on a daily basis through careful attention and exhaustive Surfing Safari.

I am humble. I envy him. And I can’t stop thinking about how most of us will never have this all-consuming passion or such a great opportunity to experience unity with anything.

Jeff Clark may be crazy. He may be obsessed. But he’s a man whose mindfulness has inspired and exalted him – and saved his skin on numerous occasions. See Big Wave Mindfulness here.


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