“If the ocean can calm itself, so can you. We are both salt water mixed with air.”—Nayyirah Waheed
This is my favorite meditative beach quote. When you think about the moods and phases of the ocean, and how they’re affected, too, by the phases of the moon, there’s so much change that goes on with the earth’s surface each day, just like it does within ourselves. But ultimately the ocean can and does calm itself. It can transform from an angry, raging storm of water that can kill with one mighty strike, to the most tranquil, still almost motionless surface, barely moving.
We too, can radically alter our emotions and inner voices, through our breathing and by using meditation as a source of strength and healing. But it takes practice. The more I have studied reiki, the more natural it’s become to apply its principles to my love for beachcombing. Each time I return to the beach, I take a few moments to do a beach meditation. It’s easier to do this on the beach alone, and nicer at sunrise or sunset, but even on a crowded beach you could stand facing the water and perform this simple ritual in just a few moments before you set out on a beachcomb.
Simple Beach Meditation: Stand near the edge of the water, facing the water’s edge. Stand with your feet slightly apart in a comfortable, relaxed stance, letting your weight sink into the sand. Let your arms fall gently beside your body, palms down, rested.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for just a moment and then exhale deeply through your nose or mouth. Relax your jaw. Relax your shoulders. Continue breathing deeply. Feel the wind, listen to the sounds of the waterfront—the waves, any sea birds. Close your eyes. Take a minute to focus on any negative thoughts you may have lingering in your mind. Before you begin beachcombing, you’re going to make an effort to release them into the earth. Take a deep breath in, inhaling the fresh, salty air, and on the exhale, release negative thoughts and energy, down through your body, into your feet and through the sand into the earth. Do it again, inhaling the healing energy of the sea and the wind, exhaling negativity down through your body into the sand and the grounded earth.
Breathe. Open your eyes. Take in the vision of the horizon, the colors of the sky and the water and the land around you, and embrace the time you’ve been given to be here in this moment, at this waterfront. Silently thank the ocean for any gifts she might offer you that day. Feel the warmth of the sun as it bathes you in light. Let the light wash through you, and feel the soft golden glow fill you with relaxation and warm, peaceful, healing thoughts. With each breath you take, let the salty air and the warm light, this glow and new sense of peace fill your lungs as you have exhaled any worry or negativity down into the sand. Always: breathe peace in, breathe worry out.
Look out at the waves and silently wonder what message they bring for you that day. They may bring you a gift on the sand, a physical message. Perhaps it’s a stone, a rock or a piece of glass shaped like a heart that’s a sign from someone in your life, here or gone, who you needed to hear from. Be ready to receive that message. Perhaps it’s a letter on a piece of glass, an initial of someone who is in your thoughts—or a shell, a sea creature or other beach experience. Look for those signs, for sometimes they’re right there in front of us, as the universe sends them out, but we can only receive them if we are open to them.
Bring your hands together, feel present with your feet beneath you in the sand, grounded on the earth, and end the meditation by taking one final deep breath and thanking the ocean again for her gifts of the day—not only the gifts you may pick up, but for the time you will spend renewing your spirit, for the peace of mind you will find as you walk the shoreline in the moments to come. Take the messages and gifts home with you from the beach this day, but most importantly take home the peace you’ve found.