Ocean Lessons: Waves of Stress and Resiliency

In my twenties, I spent a lot of time in Mexico City. While I absolutely loved the capital, diesel fumes and all, there were times I simply had to get away. An easy, relatively cheap (and at that time, safe) weekend get-away was to take a bus down to Acapulco. 
Leaving late from the southernmost terminal, friends and I would curl up on bus seats and sleep whilst the bus curved its way around the hills and through the valleys of Taxco. If you traveled those roads during the day you would likely have moments of white knuckling the arm rests. The speed at which the drivers took those sharp bends on the edge of deep gorges was an experience qualified to be listed under “Things You Never Tell Your Mother.” (May I add there were no safety rails?) The choice of nighttime rides saved both our nerves and the daylight hours for the beach. 
Arriving as the sun crested the horizon, we’d leave bus station, grab a torta filled with steaming ham and cheese and a bottle of Fanta from a street vendor and meandor down to the beach. This would be our home base for the rest of the day. Time was spent watching clift divers, drinking coco water and body surfing. A good friend of mine had grown up as a surfer in Acapulco and understood the ocean rhythms. While the waves often looked mild, they could pack a punch that might catch you unaware, knocking you off your feet and into a swirl of water and sand where you no longer knew which way is “up.” What I learned from my friend on Hornos Beach has helped me stay upright when the waves crash around me. 
1) Think outside of the box. We may believe standing straight against the wave is our best stance, but instead it creates more area for the wave to hit. Turning sideways into the strength of the wave will allow it to pass over us more easily. It is an exercise in how to know and use our natural strengths to our advantage when the force comes our way.
                                                      Trust your strengths.
2) Place one foot in front of you toward the wave and another behind you toward the beach. This looks a bit like the Warrior Pose in yoga.  Dig your feet into the sand and watch the wave. It is going to come whether you are ready or not.
                                                            Believe in you
3) Waves are beautiful, and sometimes those that appear to be soft and harmless, can end up towering over you in a completely unexpected manner. Enjoy the scenery, but don’t let it distract you from what is going on around you. 
                                               Be aware and self-compassionate.
4) Remember: you will not see every wave that comes to you. Some will catch you off guard and grind your face into the sand. You won’t know which way is up, and may panic. At this time (and I know it sounds counter intuitive), relax. Physics will take over and your body will naturally begin to rise to the top where you can find air. In your fear, remember you will be able to right yourself and breath again.
                          Follow your gut (not your fear), even it if makes no sense.
5) Riptides are real, and waves unexpectedly take you down. Always have another person who can reach into the surf, grab you and pull your sputtering self out to safety.  
                                                        Surf with others.
Riding the waves can be fun. Getting slammed is not. Some experiences are exhilarating, other times we end up with a bunch of sand in our suit as we crawl out of the grip of a riptide.  Both will happen, because we are human. Whether the waves of life feel friendly or fearful: believe your experience, trust yourself, practice self-compassion and find a trusted wave surfer who can pull you out if the water gets deep.
Riding the wave toward the weekend…
REMINDER: You are invited to join the Resilient Hearts Community at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2320820671522802/

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