I just returned from having the time of my life, and I almost didn’t want to come home. It was five days of pure surf-camp bliss at Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women in Mexico – a combination of mindfulness with the experiential challenge of catching waves – and it was one of the most powerful events I’ve ever experienced.
Why surfing? Well … where do I even begin?
If you’ve ever participated in an experiential workshop of any kind, you know that they can amazing opportunities to learn new things and bond with others. So you can imagine what happens when the setting is a beautiful beach, you have you’re surrounded by a group of amazing women who have all answered the challenge with a resounding, “Yes!” You get to discover inner strength like you never imagined.
There are so many valuable outcomes from this experience, and here are some of my favorites:
While most of us are over-scheduled and busy, it seems that women, in particular, spend so much energy focused on others. We attend to our families, spouses, friends or work responsibilities, and often have a hard time saying no or making time for ourselves. Committing to a week of personal growth and new adventure is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself.
Adventure retreats like this can serve as a way to honor a special milestone or event. Some of the participants were celebrating birthdays or significant life changes that deserve recognition … a way to recognize your life … your power … your strength.
The practice of imagining the outcome you want with any given task is so impactful, but we often don’t take the time to do it. Once you see and feel the power of cause and effect, it can truly change your life. If you can learn to apply visualization techniques to surfing, you can learn to apply them in your everyday life.
Surfing is all about balance. You have to drop into your core and center yourself on the surfboard. It’s more about being grounded or stable. You also have to be present in the moment, which isn’t so easy when you’re on a piece of polyurethane that’s racing on waves – one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Literally and figuratively, you have find balance in the midst of unpredictability and instability.
Finding your sweet spot on the board is kind of like finding your sweet spot in life – it’s all about finding your “flow” and what works best for you. You get knocked off the board and knocked down in life, and you just have to learn to get back up, go back out there and paddle hard for the next wave.
Breathing and Affirmation.
Practicing breathing – and breathing deeply – engages your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us and increases blood flow. This is important when you’re facing physical, mental or emotional challenges. In the height of chaos, breathing deeply allows us to be calm and present. In addition, by practicing affirmations and telling yourself you can do something (versus using negative self-talk), your thoughts can become reality.
Adults learn best by doing, which is why experiential workshops are so effective. When we can make that connection between how we feel in one experience and how that relates to how we do everything, it can really be profound. For example, just as you can continue to get yourself up on the surfboard no matter what, there are life circumstances that will require tumbling and rolling before you can get back up and do it again.
Being present and practicing mindfulness can be applied to any and all aspects of our lives – whether it’s work, play, relationships or any other activity, making our experiences more full and rich.
The challenge for us all after experiencing any powerful transformation is this: how do you keep it up when you get back to your life of work, responsibility and obligations? You leverage and reflect back on those profound feelings you experienced, and learn how to replicate them in your everyday life by choosing to be happy. You learn to shift your disposition and link all those new discoveries to other events.
What have you learned from an experiential adventure?
Have you ever participated in a retreat or workshop that involved new physical challenges with mindfulness? What did this experience teach you, and how did you translate new skills or techniques to your everyday life? I’d love to hear your story – please leave your comments below.