Running barefoot along the beach, the sand is soft underfoot making it more challenging as I try to drive forward to pick up the pace. It's raining but it's warm. Raindrops kiss my face, awakening to the sun which is obscured by a thick band of rain clouds. My rain jacket throws back my body heat as I round the washed-up tree stump that serves as my turning marker.
Lilli Pilli Beach, NSW South Coast. A private beach cove to surf and swim. Viewpoint from the coastal trail that follows the headlands.
It’s just before 8:00 am we’ve been here almost an hour. Shan and the girls are in the surf catching waves. Ziggy is next to me, eager to take off as fast as his 4 legs can take him yet carries a steady pace faithfully next to me as we run back and forth along the sandy cove.
It’s humid and I’m spent. The sun breaks from behind the clouds for a brief moment to light up a patch of water just in front of me, as if someone had shone a torch for direction. The light dances atop the water, glistening with such luminosity, it almost blinds me. Acting on the invitation, I strip down to my bikinis and walk into the sparkling sea.
The cool water is a welcome relief. I dive under a wave, coming up take a deep breath, and surrender to the feeling of weightlessness. My legs heavy from the run, now float in front of me as I lay face skywards, marveling in the joy of the sea.
My mind had been running faster than I had. A mental checklist of all the things I needed to do challenged one another for importance in the front of my mind. The thoughts overwhelming and anxiousness rising, I hadn’t noticed just how far it had run away from me until I was immersed in the cool water and felt it all melt away.
Submerging under crashing waves, forced to take a deep inhalation, I’d returned to my senses.
A simple way to instantly anchor through your senses, try the above exercise. Repeat as many times as necessary.
The swollen body of water moves beneath me, as I float up and down, almost as if rolling on a hill. I notice rocky headlands towering on either side of the small bay. Native shrubs cling to the cliffs, and tall gum trees fight for height as their branches twist in the coastal winds. The craggy cliffs are dotted with large white quartz and as the waves crash up and into the cliff face, the white crystal sparkle like a disco light. It's wild and peaceful at the same time.
Diving under the waves, I feel the pull on my hair as I push my face into the belly of the wave. Hair flowing down my back, I’m transported to my childhood and dreams of mermaids and life under the sea. The pure joy of innocent memories clears any anxious thoughts.
Pressing my hands to my face, clearing water from my eyes, and pushing back my wet hair, the salty sea sits on my lips. A deep inhalation takes in the mixed aroma of salty water, seaweed, and an earthy smell released from the recent rain. With a pleasant smell, I’m reminded how much the scent of nature is grounding, and restorative, and with it drink in a deep breath before diving through a crashing wave.
Underwater, it’s as if everything is echoed back to me. The sound of my beating heart full of exhilaration, the barrelling waves above me crashing. It's muted, with the ferocity amplified in the cove as I lift my head from the frothing water. I can almost see where the thundering vibrations met in the space above.
I am calm in the midst of a chaotic and loud nature-scape.
The seas soon calm, almost as if reflecting my inner state. The thick band of cloud that sat heavy in front of the rising sun has dissipated and we are illuminated in the golden glow of the morning sun.
I stand bringing the weight back to my body, feeling my feet sink into the shifting floor of the beach. The grains of sand move back and forth with the tide as it comes ashore and retreats, tickling the bottom of my feet with the movement.
Calm crystal-clear water allows the white sand below to sparkle. As the water hits the beach and returns to the sea, I observe the tiny grains of sand ebbing and flowing, filling the space between the sea floor and the water edge as if in slow motion. It reminds me of a snow globe I had as a child, shaken and meditatively watching the sparkles slowly float back to the bottom.
The morning sun, rising in the sky, reflects from each tiny grain of sand as it floats with such softness that is accompanied by an effervesce, a soft fizz that is heard, released from the energy of the water on shore. Time has stopped. I am struck by the beauty and tranquillity; grateful I find myself in these moments frequently.
The sandy shores provide an anchor to practice mindfulness. Shan and the girls are in the water, waiting for a wave.
These moments are a practice. The practice of bringing awareness to our senses; touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. The practice of putting ourselves in the way of beauty, in nature, and observing her cues.
We needn’t travel to faraway places to experience this effervescence, this sparkle. It’s everywhere. All around us at all times. It’s in nature, on the trails. The dappled sunlight filters through the trees. The way rain appears to fall so slowly when further away from our eyes. The glow of sunshine through the veins of a leaf.
Where do you find it?
If you're keen to explore more mindfulness in nature, check out our upcoming hikes. As a mindfulness coach, I interweave elements of a therapeutic approach on the hikes for holistic health benefits.