My wife Nicky has had a fear of the ocean, for as long as she can remember. Unable to link it to a particular experience or event, she thinks it may be the unknown. Imagine my surprise when she said that she had booked us on a Yoga and Surf retreat!
If I’m being honest, I never actually intended to do the ‘surf’ part of the retreat. I just booked it, thinking I could sit on the beach reading my Kindle, watching everyone else. Mistake number 1! I’m a Yoga teacher, so I was in my comfort zone, with that element. When I told Chris that I didn’t think the surf part was for me, I was met with ‘if I’m doing yoga every day, you are surfing’. Fair point!
I suddenly found myself on the beach, in a rash vest doing surf drills, feeling physically sick. Various things ran through my mind including feigning illness. I knew I wouldn’t get away with it, especially having a husband who is a Life Coach (such a pain sometimes!).
Nobody else seemed bothered that the biggest swell (15 foot waves!) to hit Sri Lanka in 15 years was happening on the first day of our retreat! Everyone got stuck in, so to save face, I thought I would wade out once and give it a go. This resulted in a wave dragging me under the water for what felt like an eternity and the surf board hitting me on the head. Yes, I ignored the first rule of covering your head when you fall off! On the positive side, I now had a viable excuse to sit on the beach…………or so I thought.
Dealing with my Fear
I have never been a quitter and I get mad when I can’t do something. Even though every bit of me was telling me to give up, stubbornness crept in and I found myself wading back out. I decided to take it in little steps. I realised that my fear of the ocean could be overcome if I had the confidence to cope with going underwater. For me, this meant not panicking. It took every ounce of courage to keep going back out, knowing that I was going to be dragged underwater every time.
After 2-3 days, I had mastered turning the board and found myself actually surfing. When I say surfing, I mean it in the loosest of terms and on the smallest wave in the world. For me, that was a huge deal. You can hear the sheer delight in my voice on the video – mainly because I didn’t fall off! I don’t think I would have got as far as I did without the incredible encouragement and patience from our instructor, Tony. He instinctively knew when I was struggling and had a way of making my panic ease. I don’t think my fear of the ocean will ever fully go away, but facing it head on has made me realise that it isn’t quite as scary as I once thought.
Be brave, face your fear. Yes, I know I am sounding like my Life Coach husband. Don’t tell him I said this, but I think he might be right about this…….