The Zen of Surfing

The Zen of Surfing

Surfing is such a meditative practice. While surfing requires tremendous amounts of focus and a healthy dose of adventure, it also asks us to stay in the present moment. Staying present is the very essence of all things “Zen.” We’re lucky enough to live near the majestic and surf-heavy Pacific Ocean, so let’s appreciate it for its mystical qualities. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning of the word Zen and how surfing can help us get to that wildly peaceful place. 

Zen 101

The word Zen gets thrown around a lot. It probably started with the wildly popular book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. If there seems to be a Zen aspect to everything, that’s because there is. The word simply translates to “meditation.” However, embodying the essence of Zen requires us to be alert, calm, and present in the moment. We can practice Zen wherever we are — while doing the dishes, driving down the road, or yes, surfing. Zen asks us to observe our surroundings and stay entirely in the flow of the moment, without focusing on the past or the future. No matter what we’re doing, we can drop into a state of Zen meditative awareness when we choose to be totally present. No iPhone. No future plans. No distractions. This is why surfing offers a perfect gateway into the practice of Zen.

Surfing and Total Presence

The ocean itself offers a lovely metaphor for Zen consciousness. A wave appears and then breaks. Before we have time to dwell on that wave, another wave appears. We can liken the waves of the ocean to the everchanging states of our minds. When we’re in the water on our surfboards, we get access to this oceanic Zen. Next time you’re in the water, stay totally focused on the present moment. How does the ocean smell? How does the sky look? How does the board feel beneath your feet? Let the waves keep coming. Your surfing practice and state of mind will improve and get more peaceful.


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