I love me some beach time. I love the sun and the sand, the waves and the wind. I love walking along that precious place where the water might come up and get me…and it might not. Sand castles are a specialty, especially my famous dribble castles (as passed down to me by the Dribble Castle Master, my mom). I collect shells with the best of them and can play smash ball for ages. And there is no doubt that my beach sport of choice is body surfing.
There are few things that feel as exhilarating and empowering, as well as humbling and awe-inspiring as launching my body into the curl of a wave and riding it in (or getting tossed bum-over-teakettle, depending how it goes). Standing in water between waist and chest high, the first challenge is to wait for the right wave. As they roll in, I decide what to do with each one: jump up and float over the top, dive into the heart of it, or surf it in. Once I’ve chosen a wave to ride, it’s all about launching off the bottom at just the right moment, to combine my strength with that of the wave. Push off too late, and the wave will roll right over me. Too soon, and I’m likely to get tangled in the whorl and end up in a snarled pile in the sandy shallows.
While I was body surfing at Myrtle Beach last week, I noticed how important the state of RAW is to successful body surfing. RAW is the state of Relaxed, Alert and Waiting. In Nia, we use RAW lots of times, in particular when we’re listening to music, learning movements, and teaching. The key in RAW is finding the balance between the three qualities of Relaxed, Alert and Waiting. Too relaxed, and I miss some of what’s happening in and around me. Too alert, and I’m carrying tension that prevents me from embodying what I’m doing. Too much waiting, and I’m stuck in the future, frozen from acting in the present.
Body surfing is really like dancing with the ocean, and it’s essential to remember that the ocean is dictating the rhythm and speed of the music. If I’m too relaxed while waiting in the waves, I won’t have the explosive power to time my jump into the crest. Too alert, and I won’t have the softness to let go and either ride or release into the tumble. Too much waiting, and I’ll just hang out bobbing around looking for the wave that will never come.
RAW has a sensation. My invitation today is to play with it for yourself. Feel the balance between the three qualities. Which one do you tend to do more, which one less? I’ve found that RAW is a state that helps me do just about everything with more ease and power. Everything from having a difficult conversation to making an awesome dribble castle to riding that sweet, perfect wave all the way to the shore.