Plastic waste reduction…are we too late?

Abundance…but at what price?

High season is nearly over!

Cancun and the Riviera Maya go through this period every year and without fail (thankfully for all of us making a living here), tourists from all over the world come to visit our incredible beaches and vast vacation offer.

It’s a time of abundance and work. Unfortunately, it also comes at a price. Even though plastic waste reduction has lately become more relevant, we are still a long way from overcoming this terrible epidemic. Here’s what I mean…

A few days ago, I finally returned to the beach which my wife and I love very much. It is located 10 minutes from our home. It was our day off so we decided to go early with our dogs and later on for breakfast at a small local restaurant we like very much.

Having lived in the area for nearly 20 years now, we knew that with our walk, would come the notorious appearance of trash washed up on shore. This has just been so for the amount of time living here.

This season, however, was starkly different.

The number of plastic objects washed up on shore was more than we had ever found before.

Due to our current jobs, we don’t get out to the beach as much as we should. We normally take “stock” on just how much trash and refuse washes up on our beaches.

Having made inquiries to the local lifeguarding staff and the beach clean-up crew, they confirmed that the amount of trash washed up during this 2018 season was alarmingly high.

They even showed us what they had recollected that morning.

Among the plastic bottles and bags and other refuse in general, 2 rubber duckies and one ice hockey glove…seriously? The duckies we could understand (well, sort of)…but the ice hockey glove??

I decided to investigate a bit further as to how an ice hockey glove ended on our favorite beach.

And what I found out was shocking.

Hard facts to consider…

More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced around the world each year.

Only 10% of that is being recycled!

Billions of plastic bottles and trillions (that’s with a “t”) of plastic bags end up creating literal mountains of plastic waste found in our planet’s largest landfills.

According to a report from the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns, many of these bottles and bags (10 to 20 million tons, find their way into our world’s oceans.

More alarming facts…

50 billion plastic water bottles are produced in the US alone every year. If you were to stack these bottles end to end, they would stretch the distance from the earth to the moon more than 26 times or wrap around the earth more than 250 times!

And nothing seems to be slowing down this plastic binge.

The North Atlantic Gyre…one of five…

So how do 3.5 million tons of garbage (80% being plastic) end up floating lazily around our world’s oceans and where does it all end up eventually?

Have a look at this amazing GIF taken from the scientific website plasticadrift.org.

Consider one of the locations of this natural occurrence: the Atlantic Ocean.

Shipping lanes traverse these vast waters and everything, from food to plastic bottles, wrappings, bags, and all kinds of refuse, fall into these waters.

Below you can see the main shipping lanes of our planet. Pay special attention to the Atlantic shipping lanes. It’s no wonder our oceans are chocking in plastic pollution!

Now imagine a large cargo ship losing its containers to a storm (not a frequent incident, thank Goodness, but it does happen).

All those items, including rubber duckies (and hockey gloves), are lost in the storm and eventually end up in the vast North Atlantic Gyre. That’s a bit on the extreme side. It is the day to day disposal of plastics and their by-products that is simply unsustainable any more!

There they may remain for years (some gyres complete a rotation every 6.5 years!) until they reach the outer bands of the gyre, where they are snatched by other oceanic currents and eventually end up washed up on many of our world’s beaches.

Such was the case with the refuse we were shown, having washed up somewhere from the deep Atlantic on to our local beach, 10 minutes away from our home.

Ravenous hunger for plastics results in graver consequences…

The unfortunate fact is that our endless hunger for plastics is not exclusive to our oceans. The extent of the damage we are causing goes well beyond that.

At the microscopic level, the use of cosmetics and cleaning products have also had an adverse effect. These products are made up of micro-plastics (tiny beads of plastic which are added to improve their abrasiveness). These micro-plastics end up being flushed down drains.

They are so small that modern sewage systems are unable to remove them from drain tubing. Instead, they flow out and end up in shallow waters, mostly on the surface, where they collect contaminants which affect the planktonic food chain.

According to another report from Worldwatch Institute (2015):

“Approximately 10 to 20 million tons (9.1 to 18.1 million metric tons [mt]) of plastic ends up in the oceans each year. A recent study conservatively estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing a total of 268,940 tons (243,978 mt) are currently floating in the world’s oceans. This plastic debris results in an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems, including financial losses to fisheries and tourism, as well as time spent cleaning beaches.”

And most recently, Kathleen Rogers, the Earth Day Network’s President has this to say about plastic pollution (2018):

“From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival”.

As if that were not enough, plastics threaten our ocean’s wildlife, such as seabirds, sea lions, whales, fish, and dolphins, through entanglement in plastic matter such as netting, ropes, and packaging materials.

Also, microparticles and microbes adhere to floating debris which can enter local ecosystems, damaging wildlife in non-native regions.

So what can we do?…really.

For starters, restrain the unnecessary use of plastic bags and increase our efforts at recyclingreally.

Easier said than done. I myself have tried to commit to a serious recycling effort, but have fallen short. After this article, however, I now realize that there is no turning back.

The numbers are staggering and it’s not getting better any time soon.

We must commit, in heart, mind, and soul, to reduce our plastic footprint and do all we can to acquire a recycling culture, not as a fad or trend, but as a lifestyle.

Do you have a recycling program where you live? More importantly, are you actively finding ways to be informed and aware of how to minimize the indiscriminate use of plastic products? What strategies have you put in place and are they working?

 

I hope you have found this article useful. It is so important that we become accountable and involved in protecting our planet, both in and out of the water, from plastic pollution.

What do you think? Are we still in time?

I’m an optimist.

We are gradually coming to terms with the consequences of our actions. It’s finally happening.

Better late than ever, I guess.

Please leave your comments below. I will be happy to follow up and share them with our Sentinel community around the world.

Thank you for reading and talk soon!

Nazare: how does it really work.

Its that time of the year again!

A few months have passed since our last sit-down at our favorite french coffee shop. Eduardo, or “Lalo” as I affectionately prefer to call him, is my best friend. And, like me, a big fan of anything that has to do with surfing and the WSL (the World Surf League).

I sit alone, half-way through my second chocolote caliente (yeah, I know, not very French). Lalo is off on a business trip to Chiapas. Last time I spoke with him was about two weeks ago. Said he was keeping busy and wouldn’s be back in time for coffee time. Shame. I miss our conversations. So I sit there and think about our last conversation in January when we last met to discuss anything and everything regarding our favorite sport…

It is the end of  January of 2018. The WSL is on a break and the XXL big wave riding tournament is THE topic now.

And why not.

Our discussion revolves around big wave chargers like Andrew Cotton, Mark Haley, Garett Macnamara and a few others. Their exploits riding the world’s largest waves always resulting in lively debates.

The winter storms are their playground.

Their time is now.

And even though we continue with our friendly discussion on who is the sickest, most extreme charger, Lalo and I agree on one indisputable truth: the heaviest big wave riding spot in the world continues to be Nazare, Portugal.

We both sit there, letting the name of the legendary break sink in our minds and imagination.

Nazare. Where, in winter of 2011, the world’s largest wave was ridden by big-wave riding legend Garett Macnamara. What a moment!

As Lalo reaches for his hot cup of Chiapas coffee, he hesitates for an instant.

“How does it work?” he asks, looking at the steaming cup of coffee.

His tone serious, almost reverent, taking me by surprise. He looks at me now, probing deeper.

“I mean, this place, Nazare…it’s unnatural…a freak of nature”. he says. Lalo sits back, folding his arms. Thinking.

“I’ve read about places like Ghost Tree, Todos Santos, Mavericks…but Nazare…Christ! How does a wave get to be that size? It’s insane! Is it the location? The storms that are out in the deep Atlantic? What is going on below water…”.

“Bathymetry” I add, trying hard not to sound like a nerdy know it all.

“Yeah, that’s it. Bathymetry. I wonder what’s the bathymetry of that place. What lurks beneath the water’s surface? And at what depth? Is it a reef? Rock? Sand?”.

I sit there, taking a sip of my chocolate caliente, giving pause to think about Lalo’s questions.

“Let me show you something which may help” I say finally.

Reaching for my mobile, I open the search engine and type “Grand Canyon”. Almost instantly, my query is answered with hundreds of images of Colorado’s mighty Grand Canyon. I pass my mobile to Lalo.

“That’s the Grand Canyon. What do you see almost in every image?”.

Lalo starts finger-sliding the images from left to right. “I see contours, ledges, cliffs, ravines, and a bunch of other stuff that geologists would probably call “eye-candy!”.

I laugh. Lalo’s sense of humor is one of his qualities which I most enjoy and look forward to in our conversations.

“Exactly!” I say, taking another sip of my chocolate caliente.

Lalo continues to explore the images. Again, making an effort not to sound academic, I continue on.

“The Grand Canyon is legendary for its vast abundance of geological “eye-candy”. Now, imagine all of that below water. Add enormous storms, sending huge swells over these enormous underwater formations and contours and…boom! You have the makings of Nazare. And as essential as all this is, it’s what’s happening below the water’s surface that is even more incredible. Lalo, it’s where the unseen magic happens…”.

So how does it work?

Giant waves are not that uncommon. Their size and mass depend directly on the size and power of the storm where they originate from. These are the waves that you typically watch in National Geographic documentaries, where large exploration ships come face to face with these monsters out in the middle of the Arctic Ocean or the deep Atlantic.

The dramatic images of one of these ships battling it out with nature’s fury never cease to amaze me. They often leave me wondering what the brave crews of these mighty vessels are going through, including the crewmember expressing his experience using very colorful language!

However, surfable waves of this scale are rare beasts indeed.

Many elements must first converge to create waves of monstrous proportions while still being rideable. Large storm systems are just one part of the mix. Location, bathymetry, and local winds are essential ingredients which also weigh heavily on the rest of the big-wave formula.

Location.

Let’s take these enormous storms and scale them down to more manageable terms.

Imagine you are standing in a regular pool. Now, you start “romping” in the pool, hitting the surface of the water repeatedly with your hands. Soon, its a frenzy of splashing and white water. As the frenzied surface of the water moves away from you, it acquires a more defined shape (concentric waves speeding away from you: the center of the storm). Eventually, the waves will reach the edge of the pool and disappear altogether.

Take that on a planetary scale, and you got the basic mechanics of how waves are formed. If waves don’t travel far enough from the storm (you), they will remain contorted and without any defined shape by chaotic conditions around them (splashing).

Bathymetry.

In one of my earlier posts, I explained a bit about bathymetry.

The ocean’s floors are anything but even. They are full of contours and, more often than not, these contours closely resemble those found on dry land. Ultimately, these underwater ravines, cliffs, and canyons are a critical component of a wave’s size and shape as it approaches the coastline.

I confess that, until recently, I was unaware of the importance of the contours found in the ocean’s floors, and the impact they have on large swells.

Now I understand that large, epic surf is heavily influenced by the bathymetry of each break…this is where it all happens.

Local Wind.

Four magical words that surfers around the world love to hear: light off-shore winds.

Wind, when it is generated locally, determines the quality of a wave. Giant waves get “combed” to perfection by good wind conditions.

If you have ever seen off-shore winds in action, you probably remember seeing the wave’s “mane”  being combed and groomed away from the crest. This is one of surfing’s most spectacular visual gifts.

When you are out in the water, in the receiving end, well…it’s hard to explain. The closest thing I can relate it to is being soaked by a drizzling, light rain… it’s pretty freaking amazing!

And so we come to the mother of all convergences. Those that have created Nazare’s legend and mystique.

Picture an eight-story-high building and you begin to comprehend the dimensions of such a wave. To date, Nazare remains unchallenged as the surf spot where the world’s largest wave ever was conquered.

What lies beneath…

What is truly remarkable about Nazare is that it is a sand bottom beach break. Unlike other legendary big-wave breaks around the world, where the bathymetry is made up of underwater reefs or points, and where swell energy is dependent on their respective contours, Nazare depends on unique underwater dynamics to make it work.

If it existed without these dynamics, the majority of the swells, especially large ones like the ones arriving at its shorelines every winter, would be hopeless close-outs.

But that’s not Nazare.

In fact, the dynamics which are at play here make this sand bottom beach break a stand-alone in the world of big-wave riding.

And the great facilitator for this extraordinary distinction is the Nazare Canyon, Europe’s longest submarine canyon.

It begins about half-a-mile out, at the continental shelf, at a depth of 50 meters and then plummeting down to the Iberian Abyssal Plain, to a depth of 5,000 meters, just off-shore.

The canyon’s bathymetry allows the creation of very large, powerful surf through drastic, rapid change in ocean depth, resulting in swell amplification. This is directly attributed to the canyon head:  the actual location where the canyon starts.

Check the image below from the GEBCO Gazetteer, an online index that compiles the names of underwater features.

The importance of the canyon head’s location cannot be overstated:

1. It focuses extra swells, especially on longer period swells, into the region.
2.It allows swells to greatly increase in size as they approach the coastline.

In other words, very large swells refract from deep water towards shallow water, where they transform into huge swells, packed with unparalleled oceanic energy. Welcome to Nazare.

To make things a bit more interesting…

Because it is a beach break, offshore shallow points weigh heavily on the creation of better waves with crossed-up breaks v.s. huge close-outs. This makes Nazare incredibly challenging and extraordinarily dangerous…especially when it’s big! I found a review by legendary Surfline.com forecaster and surfology expert, Sean Collins, on swell mechanics present in October 2011, during the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

Back to the future…

The coffee shop is busy, loud, and the people sitting on other tables around me go on with their own discussions.

I smile.

It’s so strange and strangely gratifying, talking about something that is so foreign, so different and so removed from the lives of the great majority of people here.

It is a privilege.

And it is also our little secret.

Sitting at my table in silent contemplation, I savor the moment. The allure and awe of Nazare is ours alone. And as I finish my last bit of chocolate caliente, I smile again because no one here understands this. Not really.

Which surf spot inspires you most? Lalo mentioned a few that still manage to stir our imaginations: Cortez Bank, Todos Santos, Ghost Tree. But there are others which are just as famous and awe-inspiring.

And hopefully, many more still remain to be found. It’s a big ocean out there.

What’s been the largest wave you have ever seen or experienced? Please share in the comment box below so other sentinels may read about your encounters and exploits! We would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading and talk soon!

 

Every moment counts…the awesome power of “Kairos”.

Opportune moments…Zak Noyle.

Hey sentinels!

Question for you: have you ever had a defining moment in your life? An instant, so powerful, so transformational, that it becomes a before-and-after moment, forever altering your journey?

Enter Hawaiian water photographer Zak Noyle.

Zak is considered one of the best extreme photographers in the world. He currently lives on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. From an early age, his father, Ric Noyle, also an experienced photographer, encouraged Zak to take up photography. By the time Zak was a freshman at Punahou School, he had already published his works in ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Transworld Surf. In 2015, at age 25, he was made senior staff photographer of Surfer Magazine and has been actively involved with the magazine since then.

Code Red…

In February of 2016, one of the largest swells to ever hit the North Shore of O’ahu arrived at Waimea Bay, just in time for The Eddie, one of surfing’s most emblematic and traditional big wave riding events in the world.

The Eddie, formerly known as the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, was an event which Zak had followed both in and out of the water for some time.

This morning, though, what he would experience would forever change his life, both as a photographer and as a skilled waterman.

As he made his way to the famous bay, reports on how big and massive the swell was getting began to show up in local radio stations. By the time he arrived at Waimea Bay, the waves were so enormous and powerful, local authorities had even considered postponing the event.

But everything was all set up, thousands having come from around the world to watch the event. With the assistance of wave runners, Zak was able to arrive quickly at the lineup.

But the behemoth closeouts forced him and his crew out to the shore on more than one occasion.

The arrival of Kairos…

He decided that the best way not to miss a moment of the event was to swim back to the lineup.

Zak would spend the next eight hours, without food or water, braving waves at times exceeding 50+ feet.

Following is an account I found in Surfline.com describing Zak’s experience on that harrowing day.

Zak experienced Kairos (pronounced “Kiros”): an ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, opportune moment. A particular moment when a drastic change takes place.

As Zak explains in his incredible account that day: everyone was saying that it was just too big to go out. He tried hard to remain in his “zone”; and in a moment of Kairos, he made a decision that would change his life forever.

As a result of his courageous decision, Zak was able to take some of the heaviest images ever taken during this legendary event.

Kairos in your life…

Now, in your life, your Kairos moment doesn’t have to be as dramatic or dangerous as Zak’s experience.

Kairos is a very personal affair, and how and when it arrives in our lives is very different for each of us. In fact, you may even experience a few Kairos moments in your life. This is not unheard of.

In my personal journey, I’ve had two such moments: creating my first website and posts, and, another much more personal moment: the passing away of my father.

These particular moments created drastic changes in my life.

Creating my first website, surfsentinel.net, was of particular professional and personal relevance. It got me hooked on blogging and made me an avid learner and creator of digital marketing content.

It was transformational since I finally knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life:

  • Putting my writing skills to good use.
  • Writing about a subject I am passionate about.
  • Sharing this journey with my audience.
  • Publish the best content possible.
  • Help my audience in any way I can to make their lives happier, balanced and more meaningful.

In regards to my father’s passing, suffice to say that I learned that life is to be lived and enjoyed in the present. His integrity and work ethic will continue to be my daily source of inspiration for years to come.

Have you experienced Kairos? When and where did these moments of drastic change happen to you? What did you learn from them? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. I read all comments and will gladly answer, share and discuss this fascinating subject with you.

Thank you for reading. Un abrazo!

Learning from failure is never easy, but it is often necessary.

Hi Sentinels!

This week I’m sharing something a bit different with you.

If you’ll indulge me just this once, I would like to give you a behind the scenes look at my progress regarding Surfsentinel, strictly from a marketing point of view. I will return to posting great action water sports vids, pictures as well as valuable content for you as of next week. Here we go…

It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure. Learning from failure, however, has given me the self-analysis and clarity I needed to persevere on this journey. Lessons have been learned and implemented so you and other Sentinels around the world may continue to find Surfsentinel not only entertaining but relevant and informative. (You’ll notice that I often mention the WA. This is short for Wealthy Affiliate, an online digital marketing academy where I have been learning the all about digital and affiliate marketing. They have a terrific community, always willing to lend a hand to get met unstuck. And that’s been quite often!)

The curtains pull back…

So I’m glad to say that I’m back on track (again!) and this time it’s been so much better than the last couple of times.

Beyond the fact that my absence at WA on both occasions was for personal reasons which unfortunately demanded my attention, the other reason why it was so challenging to get back on the horse again was simply that I became distracted with many other “shiny objects” out there.

At the forefront was the sudden urgency of building my email list (and EVERYTHING that is involved in this activity).

So off I went, researching on how to start my email list.

And it’s embarrassing to admit. Even though I knew that there was probably excellent information regarding this topic here at the WA, I just got dazzled by other offers out there that, in the end, led me nowhere. Now, let me clarify that it was not my virtual mentors’ fault, or the email service providers’ fault (a.k.a. MailChimp or ConvertKit). No, they are exempt from any wrongdoing.

The fault fell squarely on my shoulders.

You see, I wanted to run before learning to walk. Sounds trite, I know. But in my case, it’s been a real eye-opener.

Take a look below and you’ll see what I mean:

I mean, C’mon! Really?? In four months 472 visits…and to add insult to injury, I subscribed with ConvertKit where I am currently paying a monthly fee to have access to their emailing services…with laughable traffic…Sheesh!!What was I thinking!?! (No complaints to CK. They have awesome resources and it’s my go-to source for learning how to build my email list from scratch…when I eventually get around to it).

Pretty sad numbers right? I know.

Conclusions and actions…

BUT…it was a huge wake-up call for me (however delayed). Whatever I had been doing so far was simply not working. I decided to take a long hard look at my website’s traffic progress (surfsentinel.net). I came to a very humbling conclusion: it sucked.

It was rough. I grudgingly realized that all the time and effort I had invested in the past nine months had resulted in extremely scant results. This realization forced me to come to terms with two things:

1. I needed to go back to basics.

Back to the foundational source of successful blogs and websites: Content. But not just any kind of content. I would now have to pour all my writing and intellectual endeavors into creating (and you may want to take note of this) VALUE-FIRST CONTENT. So crucial to understand this.

See, before launching yourself into “shiny objects” like social media engagement and building your brand through Facebook Ads, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Twitter, Pinterest, (and learning to drive traffic effectively to your site, down your funnel, to eventually achieve conversions), you must first offer your readers value-first content.

I revised my posts and pages, some of them going as far back as June of 2017. I cringed when I re-read some of them. Talk about fluff! During this time, I learned a concept that is becoming more and more common among content creators: re-purposing. Taking old material, adding new images, content, links, etc. and re-launching the same article, making it easier and more attractive to read, and most importantly, with much improved and targeted value.

This is where I am currently at in my website.

And it’s a lot of work.

But in the end, I’m confident it will be well worth it.

2. Acceptance.

I needed to accept that when I first started this journey, my digital marketing and entrepreneurial skills were located somewhere beyond the basement level.

Also, that my personal learning curve has been quite steep. Not like Mount Everest steep, but more like Kilimanjaro steep.

Daunting. Uncertain. At times scary. But still reachable and without the need of an oxygen tank.

“Steady as she goes Mr. Zulu…”

One step at a time, folks! Again, trite, I know. But so true. You cannot expect to build your “tribe” of raving fans if you do not offer them valuable content first. And to do this, we must do something completely inconceivable to many: we must first help our readers.

Consistently. And selflessly.

Good examples of this, especially for you ladies and gents who are newbies here at the WA community:

Kyle’s first 10 lessons here at the WA, Ray Edwards’s blog at rayedwards.com, Vishen Lakhiani’s website at mindvalley.com, Michael Hyatt’s site at michaelhyatt.com, and Pat Flynn from smartpassiveincome.com.

Pay particular attention to how all of these respected and established marketers and communicators first offer TONS of valuable content before pitching their products. They are true masters of their craft and you can learn a lot from them.

Additionally, if you wish to subscribe to their email listing, you’ll get an invaluable lesson on the proper way to nurture an audience.

But be aware. As previously mentioned, they also offer a LOT of great content and you may find yourself easily distracted by all the awesome “shiny objects” they offer! (no affiliate earnings for me here…just good ol’ information for you).

Here are their links again:

Ray Edwards: rayedwards.com

Vishen Lakhiani: mindvalley.com

Michael Hyatt: michaelhyatt.com

Pat Flynn: smartpassiveincome.com

When you reach a wall and you simply cannot go through it, do not despair. Always know that there is help available if you know where to ask:

At the WA.

At the above links.

Also look for online resources:

Youtube and Pinterest have awesome “How To” guides.

Quora and Answer The Public are also pretty amazing for any questions or queries you may have.

A final thought…

Anthony Robbins, one of my all-time favorite life-coaches and motivational speakers, once asked a member of his audience (Al Gore) why he thought he had failed at reaching the US presidency. Mr. Gore’s answer was “…due lack of resources”. To which Tony replied to him: “No Mr. Gore, it wasn’t because of lack of resources. It was because of you not being resourceful”. You can imagine the audience’s reaction.

It’s not exactly the same quote, but it’s pretty close.

The message is clear, though.

Don’t focus on the resources not available to you. Focus all your efforts and attention on being resourceful with the abilities, skills, and gifts you have been given to acquire those resources.

Thanks for reading. I hope you liked this article and you found it useful. If you know someone who may also benefit from this content, please share it with him or her.

Thanks again and talk soon!

5 essential ingredients for spiritual wellness.

Walking through the threshold and searching for answers…

Hey Sentinels…

The passing of someone very close to me has opened a few existential doors that had been naturally shut until recently. Opening these doors and actually going through the threshold has prompted me to reflect more deeply on the importance and foundational impact that spirituality and emotional well being can have in our lives.

Questions like:

  • How do we anchor our souls when the waves of life threaten to undo us?
  • When the dark clouds of depression continue to hover?
  • When the next step in life unsettlingly unclear?

These are difficult questions that the logical side of our brain finds especially challenging. This is where meditation and spirituality become invaluable allies which can offer solace and some semblance of understanding where rational thought cannot.

I believe that where meditation and spirituality are concerned, in particular, the later, there exist 5 essential ingredients that can lead to spiritual wellness. When practiced diligently and without any prejudices, your spiritual well-being and fortitude can be greatly enhanced in and out of the water, in business, in relationships and life in general.

Practice to practice…

My site here at Surfsentinel began as a referential guide for better safety practices for watermen and women alike.

If you have been reading some of my more recent posts, that objective has gone through some substantial changes. The website has acquired a deeper, more meaningful quest for value-first content, with a strong focus on self-development strategies through the practice of action water sports, mostly surfing and other extreme board sports.

This journey has also allowed me to recognize the undeniable power of having a right mindset, and how it can have a  positive impact on our lives.

But having the right mindset, mastering your thoughts and emotions, and effectively putting these strategies into practice is easier said than done. Like all things in life that really matter, making them actionable takes dedication, commitment self-discipline, and practice. Lots of practice…here’s a great example of what I mean: (you can enjoy the whole video from last year’s Quick Silver Pro France semifinals (heat 2) between Gabriel Medina v.s. John John Florence, but the amazing stuff begins at 04:30 and again at 08:50).

Very similar to a recipe, these strategies are the ingredients. And like Gabe and John John demonstrate above, they can also be learned.

However, for the recipe to work, each individual is responsible for how to best apply the recipe’s ingredients.

A consideration on the topics ahead…

Before I go on, I wish to offer my apologies in advance for any sensibilities which I may be hurt during the next topic. My only intention is to offer provocative, thoughtful insights which may help you arrive to your own conclusions

That been said, it is now time to go deeper and find out what these “ingredients” are, and how they can help you improve your personal and professional life.

Wisdom from the past remains relevant today…

Buddha once said:

“Overcome your uncertainties and free yourself from dwelling on sorrow. When you delight in existence, you will awaken, and become a guide to those in need, revealing the path to many”.

 

 

Do me a favor. Read this quote again carefully. As you continue reading this post, reflect on its profound meaning. See how your conclusions complement the list below.

It’s quite possible that you may be using some of these “ingredients” already. If that’s the case, celebrate it and share what you have learned with others.  The more they are shared, the more powerful they become, and the better the results.

The 5 ingredients of spiritual wellness…

1. We stop.

Easy enough, right? No, not really.

As recreational or professional watermen and women, we pride ourselves on our independence, breaking away from the mainstream…moving away from conventional notions.

We became committed at understanding and protecting our oceans,  for our own safety as much as for our enjoyment. But most importantly for that of others.

But let’s face it.

Even with our best intentions in mind, the reality is that the vast majority of our tribe also falls victim to the proverbial hamster wheel (and as bad as it may be for us, it’s much worse for your average 9 to 5 company”collaborator”, wouldn’t you agree?).

And so, before we know it, we are all caught in an endless cycle of financial, family and career commitments.

Now, let’s try this again. We stop…oh no! We can’t stop! We must keep going…gotta pay those bills, need to get that promotion, have to save for that college fund, and on and on it goes.

For many of us, stopping and getting off the hamster wheel is nearly impossible.

Or is it?

We are all creatures of habit. We are especially prone to acquiring bad habits and “hamster wheeling” is pretty much at the top of the list.

We need to work hard to earn that paycheck to take care of the bills. And if that runs us to the ground, so be it.

But the truth is…

Granted, your circumstances may be less than adequate and, often times, beyond your control. Natural disasters, terminal illness, the death of a loved one. These are all situations you can’t control.  However, what we can control is how we react towards these situations.

And do you know what happens when you exert control over how you react to adverse circumstances?

You stop the hamster wheel!

You are back in control.

And then…you can get off.

Go ahead, take in the sights! You’ve earned it!

2. We become still.

We are energy.We are present. Aware. We must learn to quiet our minds.

You can still your mind through meditation, quiet reflection, exercise, yoga, or even by taking a serene walk through your favorite park (or beach!).

Throw a stone in a pond. It will make a big splash. The pond will be filled with movement, concentric circles radiating from the source of the impact…chaos, in a micro scale, but chaos nonetheless. Eventually, if you do not throw another stone, the pond will eventually become quiet and still again.

That is what we need to achieve with our mind and spirit (a.k.a. life energy, vibration or whatever you prefer to call it). By learning to become still we open the gateway to spiritual wellness.

3. We pray.

I believe in a higher power.

And I know that discussing this subject will probably touch a nerve or two on more than one of you out there. I promise to tread lightly.

Prayer can be expressed in many ways and it is intimately personal. It is also a foundational ingredient that many of us have decided to ignore. Many of us even feel uncomfortable talking about it. I am Catholic. I believe in God. And I also believe in the power of prayer.

HOWEVER…I do not believe or follow the Catholic church as an institution. Even though there are very good, noble teachings, which have enormous moral and ethical merit, there are also very confusing, outdated ones which no longer apply to our current world. And please don’t get me started on the church’s self-proclaimed practice of “piety” and “humility”. Just have a look at the opulence and excessive luxury of the Vatican and you will understand what I am talking about.

But one thing remains true for many of us who believe on some sort of higher power, and who also believe that there exists someone or something “out there” that looks after us and is responsible for the universal order of things.

And that one truth is the power of prayer.

Like the communication that has existed between men and women since the beginning of their existence, and which has been essential for their millenary evolution, communication with a higher power holds just as fundamentally true.

As mentioned before, prayer can be expressed in many ways: a solemn, austere conversation done in a church or temple, or  an intimate chat with an old friend (God, Source, Yahwe, Universal Consciousness, etc.) while enjoying the last few minutes of a beautiful sunset, who in the end, will always be willing to listen and offer you unconditional help and advice.

You just have to ask…and then listen.

4. We ask for help.

Why is it so difficult to ask for help when we so desperately need it?

Is it perhaps pride? Or maybe inadequacy?

Maybe it is that we are ashamed. We think we are not worthy enough to receive help. We shy away from asking for help because we feel vulnerable from the critique of others.  It could also be that we may think that we are just not capable enough. That we are weak.

Useless…

But consider the above quote from Buda. Take a moment to ponder about the meaning behind each sentence. It is as profound as it is beautiful:

“…When you delight in existence, you will awaken, and become a guide to those in need, revealing the path to many”.

I am an advocate of the global awakening. It is happening in our world. It is taking place right now. And it is as real as the words I am writing to you in this post. As an example, here are some beliefs that are beginning to take root in this awakening:

1. The growing belief that there are indestructible unifying bonds between us, between other species and our world.

2. Contrary to divisive propaganda, these bonds exist so we may experience them.

3. Unification of mankind can heal our world.

4. The belief that we are all products of our world.

5. The belief that life on our planet is in mortal danger.

6. The belief that we still have the capacity to join together and make things better.

So why haven’t we seen more of this awakening?

Well, think of it this way. We have all been in a deep slumber. Sort of the sleep that I’m sure you have seen on some of those science fiction movies like “Alien”, “Avatar” or more recently, “Passengers”. Yes, folks, geek alert just ahead! In these movies, the characters generally wake up from a very long sleep, I mean, really long. Like months, or even years long. When they wake up, it’s never pretty. It’s almost like they are being born again. And then they go through a very slow waking and recovery process.

That’s what I think that is happening to all of us now. We have been sleeping for a very, very long time, and we are finally coming out of that deep slumber.

Some of us are handling the waking process better than others.

Some are simply not handling it well at all.

And then there are others that carry some form of monster inside them that make things very uncomfortable for the rest of us. I think it is a fair analogy, don’t you?

5. We trust.

Have you ever manifested your wishes or desires to the “Man Upstairs”? A.K.A. God, Source, etc.

How’s that working out for you?

Well, believe it or not, there is documented, scientific proof that this skill really does exist and, like everything, to get better at it, you need to learn how to do it properly and then practice it over and over again.

Eventually, you will get better at manifesting your desires.

I have been witness to its undeniable power. I have also been studying this for some time and, in the beginning, I admit that I pretty much sucked at it!

But through seriously learning and immersing myself in the subject (and keeping an open mind), I was finally able to improve my manifesting ability.

I am going to present to you a bit of what I learned and what has worked for me.I am very excited to share this knowledge with you, right here, right now:

When you request something from the universe, make your request simple. Do not concern yourself with the end result.

That’s it. The premise is that just like when you use your GPS in your car, where you input your destination into the computer, the GPS will calculate all the data and variables, taking care of the rest of the details so it may get you there in the fastest, safest way possible.

Trust your GPS. It will take you to wherever you want to go. As long as you follow the directions, IT will take care of the rest for you.

The analogy is totally applicable when requesting and then trusting the Universe, God, Source, etc. to take care of the details for you. You will arrive at your destination (what you asked for) in the safest, fastest, most expedient way universally possible. Just trust IT and stop concerning yourself with the end result.

Does this all work? In my personal experience, I can tell you that, yes, it does work.

But again, just like everything, it requires a commitment to learning and implementing the right techniques and strategies, while keeping an open mind (sometimes this becomes a bit of a stretch for many of us).

Can you really get anything you wish for? The answer is…

But here’s the catch.

You have to take inspired positive action.

When I first started learning about conscious creation, prayer and law of attraction, I had trouble reconciling with  one very misguiding premise: “You can have anything in this world simply by asking!”.And one thing that the authors and teachers who I followed at the time would seldom ever mention was that you have to show up and take positive action!

Things don’t just happen by themselves…

The universe delivers only when you get involved with concrete, inspired and positive action. If you are sitting around waiting for deliverance without taking action, however powerfully you manifest, your wishes and desires will never materialize.

Also, and this is crucial for you to understand, the universe will deliver ONLY when you are ready to receive. Not before.

So be patient.

Work on improving your thoughts, emotions, and mindset. Embrace and learn from your fears. Live life to the fullest.

I assure you the universe will deliver and make good on your request.

 Final thoughts…

Thanks for reading and staying with me this far!

Before I go, I would kindly request that you give consideration to the following questions:

Have you ever asked for something that you wanted with very badly, and, shortly after it was delivered to you?

Did you do this consciously or was it just a moment of desire? Perhaps desperation?

Were your prayers, your requests, answered?

What does wellness mean to you?

Do you have a different recipe for regaining control and finding your center again?

Please share your experiences in the comment box below. I read all comments and reply to them accordingly.

I hope you found this article useful and if you think it may help someone you know, please share it with them.

Thanks again!

People who faced adversity learn to cope with many difficult emotions, but these four are at the top my list.

Know thyself…seriously!

Hey Sentinels!!

I have something special to share with you this week. But first, I have a small request to make of you: take a moment to look at the image below. Take your time. See the details. Try to feel what the image is saying to you. Next, ask yourself how this image is making you feel: relaxed? at peace? inspired? Hmm…a bit bored?

OK, that’s understandable. Meditation and spirituality are challenging subjects to learn and understand. But the fact is that without them, we would live half-empty lives. Think of a chair with four legs. Take these out of (they go hand in hand) and the chair will topple. Nurture them and you will have the right balance for a fruitful, rich life.

If you’ve spent some time on my blog, you probably know by now that the ocean is a very important part of my life.I have lived near it for most of my adult life, having been born a mere 50 meters away from it. And for as long as I can remember, the ocean has always provided me a with a sense of awe and wonder.

Living in the Mexican Caribbean, I have had my share of large storms (and one huge one a.k.a. Wilma!) and have seen firsthand a very dark side of nature’s fury and power. But thankfully, and for the most part, I have also experienced its incomparable beauty and spiritual generosity.

The sea is an endless source of inspiration, discovery, and transformation.

Not convinced? Consider:

The ocean provides healing.

It nurtures our emotional and spiritual well-being.

Remember the first time you saw the ocean?

What did you feel?

HOW did you feel after spending time swimming, surfing, kite boarding,etc. in the ocean? Energized? Renovated? Clear headed?…At peace?

Guess what. You experienced spiritual generosity. Celebrate it!

 

 

A storm is coming…

Now, below is another picture. Again, have a look. Go through the same exercise as above. What do you feel! What does it convey to you? Foreboding? Anxiety? Fear?

Yes, my friends. As sure as the sun rises every morning, you can bet a storm is headed your way. It is a simple but inescapable part of life. People who faced adversity know this only too well.

And once the storm hits, for a moment at least, you will probably feel all of the above emotions, perhaps as a trickle first, but then, as the storm intensifies and eventually rages around you, emotions like uncertainty, self-doubt, fear, and shame may easily overwhelm you.

Of all the difficult emotions out there, why did I put these four at the top of my list?

Well, they go hand in hand with advice and counsel on how to overcome these emotions given by extraordinary life coaches like Michael Hyatt, Eric Edmeades, and Tony Robbins

Michael, Eric, and Tony are part of a select group of gifted communicators dedicated to improving the lives of millions of people worldwide through self-development and leadership skills. They also advocate spiritual and emotional awareness as a foundational skill that can lead to significant changes in our lives, allowing us to reach our full potential.

Also actively involved in the PD niche is Vishen Lakhiani, author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind and founder of MindvalleyScott Smith, CEO and chief motivational officer of motivationtomove.com, and Ray Edwards of The Ray Edwards Show.

Lately, I have been watching their videos on YouTube, but mostly I have been listening intently to their podcasts. I have implemented and shared some of their most valuable teachings with friends and loved ones for one very simple reason: they WORK!

What I am about to present to you here is a condensed recap of a few of their teachings, as I have come to interpret them.

Spiritual fortitude and wellness are not as elusive to obtain as you may think…

“Just remember to try and keep an open heart and mind!”. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, wouldn’t you agree?

Let’s begin by understanding and shedding some light on the four emotions that made my list. You can think of them as fierce adversaries, determined to undermine your self-esteem at every turn:

  • Self-doubt
  • Uncertainty
  • Fear
  • Shame

Back in the 70s (the dynasty era of American Football), there existed an infamous group of players that became legendary for their notorious defensive strategies on the gridiron. Their field authority was so complete, their aggression so devastating, they became known as the “Fearsome Foursome”.

Their names were Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones. Stay with me on this…you see, the way they dominated the game was very simple: they instilled crippling amounts of uncertainty, doubt, shame and, most notably, fear, on to their hapless opponents. And man oh man were they ever successful. The LA Rams went from a mediocre second division team to an NFL powerhouse, winning seven straight division titles from 1973 to 1979.

Ok, ok, so I also like football (a lot!). How does this relate to wellness and spiritual growth? Really, how is this relevant?

Let’s take this example:

A seasoned surfer, standing at the shoreline, and looking out at a massive break, let’s say, Mavericks. It’s early morning, and not particularly sunny (what’s new!). Half a mile out, bomber after bomber pounds and drills the legendary break…it sort of looks like this…

It’s 35 ft+ and rising…

What feelings do you think are going through our brave charger’s mind?

Self-doubt? Uncertainty?, Fear? (that’s a given), Shame? Take your pick. Let’s briefly break this down:

Self-doubt.

We all have frequent bouts with this adversary, the first of the “Fearsome Foursome”.

Anybody who denies never experiencing self-doubt is probably lying to you.

Even the most accomplished watermen and women like Mark Haley, Maya Gabeira, Andrew Cotton, visionary entrepreneurs and financial titans like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffet, or sport megastars like Roger Federer, Leonel Messi, or Tom Brady, have all had to deal with self-doubt at some stage during their incredible careers.

If not dealt with appropriately and in time, self-doubt can be one of the “Fearsome Foursome” ‘s toughest players to beat. Your best strategy against self-doubt is practicing and becoming proficient at mastering your thoughts. You need to learn how to literally think your way out of self-doubt.

Your thoughts, and more importantly, your emotions (which are turbo-charged thoughts) can help you overcome self-doubt at every turn.

The seasoned surfer mentioned above knows this.

By focusing his thoughts on the successes of past sessions, some certainly more daunting than this one, he exerts control over his doubts.  Gradually, he starts emptying his heart and mind of self-doubt, replacing it with healthy amounts of confidence.

In a few short minutes, he has been able to effectively control his thoughts and emotions. But now, as he begins to wax his board, he recognizes two more very familiar emotions creeping up his heart and slowly invading his mind. He knows them all too well. One of them is uncertainty.

Uncertainty.

Not being in control of your environment can be as disabling as having self-doubt. Just ask anyone who has been through a natural disaster like an earthquake (we have those regularly in Mexico!), a tornado or a hurricane (them too!).

Not being in control can make you feel extremely vulnerable, confused, and many times, it makes you feel as if you are the victim of insurmountable circumstances.

You fall into the “why did this happen to me!” trap. And, for a while, it is actually ok to feel this way…but only for a while.

You must try to remove yourself from that self-destructing attitude as soon as you are emotionally ready to move forward. And one simple but very effective you can accomplish this is by changing the phrasing; from “why did this happen TO me” to “why did this happen FOR me”.

See what just happened?

This changes the whole context of how to deal with uncertainty. Think about circumstances or situations that have been serious life-changing experiences for you. Maybe you got fired, or you lost a large sum of money investing. Perhaps you went through something more intimate, like losing a loved one.

Try asking yourself not why this happened TO you, but rather, why this happened FOR you.

In other words, what lessons, benefits or changes in your life can you apply and use from this experience?

I have found out that applying this strategy to an event as sad as losing someone very close to me truly served as a literal compass. It helped me navigate through the stormy seas of uncertainty until I was able to reach much calmer waters.

Make this strategy your own. It really works!

Back to our courageous big wave charger.

So he’s been able to control self-doubt by focusing his thoughts on effective, relevant self-talk. He has overcome uncertainty by acknowledging that this moment is happening FOR him: to push his physical and emotional limits once more, to challenge his well-earned wave knowledge, currents, riptides and weather conditions which can all weigh heavily on the end result: a memorable session full of stoke or a disastrous visit to the local hospital.

As he finishes waxing his board, he looks away, his gaze is now on the horizon.

The bombers are relentless, almost surreal.

His experience and wave knowledge kick into gear: he figures 40 ft +.It’s getting really big out there.

Fear, which had been firmly under control, breaks loose.

And for a brief moment, his heart and mind take a brutal pounding from this, the most powerful and relentless player of the “Fearsome Foursome”. It’s bad. For an instant, he can’t breathe. It paralyzes him. He regains control again. But fear has firmly settled in his gutt…he feels beads of cold sweat on his forehead. Even with his steamer snuggly on,  an uncomfortable wet shiver spreads all over his body. It has nothing to do with the cold weather around him.He shakes his head as he gazes at the massive bombers half a mile out…”What the hell am I doing??”.

Fear.

Yes. Fear can be all that. And more.

But fear can also be your strongest ally if you recognize it and embrace for what it is. If you have the determination to face your fears, something awesome and quite unexpected happens.

Fear can make you take that decision which you have been avoiding for so long. Whether you do or do not do what you have been avoiding to do, fear forces you into a decision. You may not do anything or you may decide to actually do something about it. Either way, fear requires that you make a decision.

Fear can also be transformational.

It can make you push your limits, helping you to move out of your comfort zone, and allowing you to grow in many aspects of your life.

And, most of all, fear can make you feel alive!

It heightens your senses, making you keenly aware of your present self. Fear releases adrenaline, putting you into survival mode. When the moment passes, you feel at peace yet exhilarated, immensely satisfied, even euphoric. And the only thing you can think about afterward is how you can repeat feeling this way again.

Fear. It can be extremely addictive. More on that topic here.

The moment passes, and as our charger regains his composure once again, he smiles briefly, shaking his head. He makes for the shore break and with a few swift steps, he enters the water and starts paddling towards the impact zone. Self-doubt and uncertainty replaced by healthy confidence and purpose.

Fear, now an ally, enters the water with him, giving him laser focus and determination to face what’s ahead.

He paddles on. The first bomb crashes relatively near to him but he is able to sort his way through the white water explosions that follow. Until, at last, he makes it to the take-off zone. It is still cloudy. The ocean is gray. In the distance, a mountain of blackish water rises steadily, fast approaching him.

It continues to rise, higher and higher.

The mammoth wave reaches the critical threshold. Our charger paddles furiously. In an instant, he’s up on his board, literally free-falling as chaos threatens to engulf him.

But today, chaos loses.

He takes the full natural energy of the behemoth as he races down the 40-foot face. In an indescribable moment that feels like a lifetime, the wave’s energy becomes a part of him. He exits the face of the wave, white water exploding behind him. He raises his arms in triumph, screaming to the heavens in total exultation.

As he paddles away from the receding wave, his heart still pounding furiously, he feels a bit ashamed. Ashamed for almost giving up. Ashamed for letting his emotions get the best of him, even if only for a moment. He would have missed this unique opportunity for growth…for the ultimate stoke.

Shame.

We all feel shame when we or someone else tells us that we don’t measure up to the activity assigned to us. We beat ourselves silly, recriminating as to why we did not do this or that, or why we acted this or that way.

This is not only extremely harmful to our self-worth.It is also acutely stupid.

While researching for this post, I recently read a quote which hit home so effectively, I thought I would share it with you here. It’s from mystery novel writer, John Scherber:

“Never fear failure – It’s only a poor choice of words to describe one of a series of steps on the way to success, not all of which are of equal value. But they all must be taken and something can be learned from every one of them”.

How’s that for nugget!

Don’t be ashamed to fail. It is a natural part of reaching your goals.

Your failures are growth opportunities deftly disguised.

Take advantage of each failure that comes your way (and rest assured, they will come!) and never feel ashamed for having tried, even if failure looms on the horizon.

Challenged, yes, but always lionhearted…

As I begin my own journey of healing after my father’s passing last February of this year, I often see myself as the wave charger mentioned above, looking at Mavericks’s massive waves, mustering the determination and courage necessary to conquer one of the heaviest waves in the world.

Yes. Self-doubt, uncertainty, fear, and shame can overcome him at any given moment.

But facing and understanding these emotions have made him mentally tough and emotionally resilient. He has learned, and continues to learn, how to control these emotions, and most importantly, how to use them in his favor.

The colossal waves he is about to face will come incessantly, each trying to take him down. Hurt him. Destroy him.

But he knows his way around the legendary break.

His ocean savvy and deep understanding of how the wave works have been hard earned through persistence, discipline, respect, and a passion for the sport, nearing border-line obsession.

Similarities could easily apply on nearly every aspect of our lives.

The real challenge lies when something happens in our lives, an incident or circumstance that is beyond our control. An event so profound and life-changing, that for a while, we are dazed, lost, confused.

And rushing towards you at full speed, four adversaries which have the capacity to impact your weakened spirit with the force of a trainwreck.

But not this time. This time, you are ready.

You have the strategies, the tools, and effective countermeasures to repel and overcome anything these adversaries throw at you. And you can bet that you and these four fierce adversaries will collide.

You will not come out unscathed. But whoever said life’s greatest opportunities were meant for the weak of mind and the timid of heart?

You will prevail and you will come out victorious.

You have learned from your adversaries.

You have even made peace with the fiercest one of them.

You are wiser. You know the game better.

And you are improving with each opportunity that life throws at you.

Make the most of it.

Share your experiences…

So which are your fiercest emotional and intellectual “adversaries”? Your “Fearsome Foursome”? How have you dealt with them? What strategies did you use to overcome and come out victorious? Please share your thoughts and/or experiences in the comment box below. I would love to hear about your challenges and how you prevailed.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you liked it and if you know of someone who you think may benefit from it, please be so kind as to share with him or her.

Un abrazo!