Why "Ride the Waves"?

The journey of life can often be a very difficult road to take. However, the journey also brings about many joys, moments of bliss, and feelings of contentment. I  believe that there are two key challenges humans need to overcome to be able to fully enjoy this journey: (1) To be able to manage and cope with the many negative and difficult emotions of life and (2) To be attentive, aware and present in the moments of happiness to ensure we reap the benefits of these moments.


The idea of 'Ride the Waves' comes from Mindfulness practice. In life, we can have moments of sitting on a beautiful and peaceful beach that we have chosen to go to. Some may choose to sunbathe, play in the sand, or jump in the water for a dip; and some may sit at the edge of the water waiting for the waves to crash into them and take them for a fun ride back out into the water.

At different times of the day, the size and intensity of waves will vary based on the earth's rotation. What never changes though, is that the waves will always come. If we are not careful when playing with the waves, we can get swept under and pulled into deep waters. When things do not work out, we hope that we have the skills to swim back to safety, the tide magically brings us back to the beach, or we have someone to help bring us back in.


Our emotional lives have a similar story - we may choose to go to peaceful places, and the positive and negative emotions will always follow and stay with us. If any of these emotions start to overwhelm us, our lives can get very chaotic and difficult to manage. Counselling can be one tool people utilize to help them: develop the skills to stay afloat of those emotions; develop the skills to swim and cope with the emotions; and most importantly, develop the skills to be okay with those emotions and to learn to ride out all the emotions we have, no matter how bumpy the ride may be.


Counselling can be a place that helps us ride, (and if you're adventurous, surf), the waves of emotions.

Kayaking in Hawaii as an Analogy of Life

This picture of a kayaker in Hawaiian waters sits in my office as a reminder of a place I love. It's peaceful, tranquil and just plain, beautiful!

There are a few options for this kayaker:

(1) She can merely sit in this kayak and not paddle and let the waters take her wherever it wants her to go. If she is lucky, it may take her to another beautiful place. If she is unlucky, it may take her into a storm, an unpleasant place and worst case, makes her go overboard and stuck in the middle of the ocean with no more kayak and left to fend for herself.


(2) She can paddle in whatever direction she chooses and may see a beautiful place to explore. However, in the process of trying to paddle there, she encounters some large waves. Although she may be a pretty good paddler, her inexperience causes her to panic and she tries to steer away from the waves . According to the law of physics, this is not a good idea - with a greater surface area for the waves to hit, the waves may pound the whole kayak hard and toss her overboard.


(3) She can paddle in whatever direction she chooses and may choose to go anywhere she wants to explore. She may also encounter strong waves but due to her developed skills, knowledge and experience, she pushes forward and heads straight into the waves to ride over the waves. The waves pass under her and she proceeds on her journey. She may encounter a storm but with her skills, she can navigate her way through and out of the storm and eventually reaches her desired destination.


This description of the kayaker can easily be transferred into an understanding of life. When we are inexperienced with 'life', we will encounter difficulties and challenges that can easily throw us off our course and away from where we want to go. As we grow, develop and mature, our knowledge and skills help us better manage the difficulties and we are better able to keep course (however, we may still get thrown off the path a little, but we can redirect and take a U-turn and get back on course). 


As well, we all have skills and talents to utilize in our life. However, if we do not utilize any of them, then we are like the first paddler who sits in the kayak and lets 'life' determine what will happen to her (which will require a lot of luck to get to the desired place).


When we are like the third kayaker, we are open and curious to explore all experiences and challenges. We can utilize our skills to navigate challenges, take risks and achieve our goals.


This activity of kayaking in Hawaii can be a beautiful adventure that we choose - but we want to be well-equipped to ensure our safety and happiness.