Close your eyes and image you’re in the ocean, just past the breakers. As you stand there, you feel the swells lift you up, pass around you and set you back down. Each swell sets you down inches closer and closer to the breakers even though it feels like you’re lifted straight up and down. Eventually, you may find the swell shoving you forward. Or breaking on top of you and churning you like a washing machine before dumping you spitting and sputtering on the beach.
No matter how gentle the swell or tumultuous the breakers, the water is going through the exact same motion. The water comes in. The water goes out. The water comes in. The water goes out. You don’t become anxious or angry or indignant. It’s just water being water. It rolls past you, back and forth, back and forth. As does life.
Acknowledging the simplicity of this example, it’s also been a powerful meditation for me. When I catch myself ‘reacting’, I close my eyes and am transported into the ocean. Sometimes the breakers toss me around. Scraped shins and lungs full of water, I jump up and dive back in.
Yep, chugging sea water sucks. Turning your legs into chum sucks. But is it enough to keep you out of the water? No way! If you love the water the way I do, you could no more stay out than you could voluntarily take your last breath.
The next time you find yourself in the breakers of life, I challenge you to close your eyes and feel the swells lifting you and setting you down. As you feel yourself being knocked down, go with the flow, knowing it will pass. And when it does, you right yourself, shake it off and carry on.