For anyone out there that has attempted or mastered the art of meditation, oftentimes the suggestion is to close your eyes and picture yourself somewhere beautiful and relaxing. For me, I always picture myself at the beach.
I’m sitting on the sand, facing out towards the horizon, watching the repetitive and soothing ebbs and flows of the waves peaking and cresting until they gracefully reach the shore. Initially, as I picture this wondrous and idealistic beach, I usually find myself edging quickly into a relaxed state. That is until my real world experience of beaches usually begins to creep in.
As a born and raised Texan, I grew up with a yearly vacation to either South Padre Island or Port Aransas. As an adult, I hit my groove with Mustang Island and I have come to accept that a little bit of seaweed and the occasional jellyfish washed ashore is just par for the course. Imagining such things while trying to practice a beach meditation visualization is counter-productive.
Yet, frequently as I sit still attempting to find inner peace, my vivid imagination enjoys provoking my anxiety. Suddenly my meditation exercise has morphed into problem solving how to survive an incoming natural disaster. This calm and peaceful oasis of previous meditations is now experiencing record high waves that continue to crash closer and closer up the shore line, threatening to suck me into the depths of the briny sea.
“Why can’t I just chill here on the beach and enjoy it? Why do the waves have to continue to haunt me, growing bigger and darker, following me up the shore?” Now I’m full on screaming at the ocean during my meditation, I don’t think I’m doing this right.
Just as I’m ready to open my eyes and forget all about my botched attempt at mediation, I remember that even the most volatile ocean is still temporary. The moon will set, along with its gravitational pull on the sea, and the sun will rise. The tide will subside, the waves will calm, and my beach will go back to being tranquil. I do not have to resist it, I do not have to control it, I just have to take it one wave at a time.
So as summer approaches, should you find yourself standing on the sandy and sometimes seaweed-ridden Gulf Shore, take a moment to pause. Look out at the deep and vast ocean, feel the wind and sun as it hits your skin, take a deep breath and know that life is a beach. There are ebbs, flows and circumstances beyond your control, all you have to do is enjoy it.