The Zen of Tube Riding: Enlightenment in The Green Room

The Tube

The Tube

A row of set waves pushes in from the south. You align your vision down the beach, watching them bank off the jetties as you bubble with almost uncontainable fervor. Hustling toward the peak of an unclaimed wave, you turn and position yourself to catch this rolling salt water wall of energy.

As you paddle, a pulsing vibratory force enters through your feet and travels up your spine. Instinct kicks in, you pop to your feet at the exact proper moment, a split second before the wave jacks up and the wall goes vertical. A miscalculation of timing and you’re taking it to the head and getting tossed.

Lying closely into the wall, you hold your line in an unforgivable, critical position. A surge of exhilaration moves throughout your body, anticipating the cresting lip pitching out over your head. Tucking tightly in the pocket, you are then enveloped by the wave. As the lip hits the flats, you hear it howling inside your head. You are fully aware of the thunderous ocean roar.  At the same time, there is an almost deafening silence. You enter a state of utter peace, yet never lose your focus and intention.

It’s as if time ceases to exist. The moment is everything, being fully engulfed in what you are doing and nothing else. The spiraling water cloaks you as you peer out your exit point. You feel the wind in your eyes, the sun shines upon you, as a faint smile drapes your face. You gently ride over the back of the wave, lie on your board and paddle back out.

I liken this “moment” we surfers chase after to a temporary state of Satori. Satori is an eastern term for the sudden attainment of enlightenment through the practice of Zen Buddhism. I have drawn parallels between spirituality and surfing numerous times. I believe that in the proper state of consciousness, surfing is indeed a “spiritual” practice.

The successful riding of a barrel is a profound unifying experience for a surfer with their natural surroundings. Trying to describe it in the written word always seems to fall short.

I’m truly grateful for these moments that surfing has blessed me with. At one time I had searched far and wide for mystical states of mind and realization, only to come full circle back to my starting point.

Surfing. The path that has always spoke truth to me.

Photos: Christor Lukasiewicz

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Growing up in New Jersey, Shawn discovered and quickly immersed himself in the sub-culture of surfing and skateboarding in the mid 80’s. With a diverse and eclectic background, Shawn has walked the path of a competitive surfer, Hare Krsna monk, action sports industry player in NYC, DIY theology and religions major, and a touring punk rock musician. Now a father and self-proclaimed seeker of the “soul” of surfing, Shawn enjoys sessions with friends at uncrowded peaks along his home state’s shoreline and writing about his surf related experiences.

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