Why we do Deep Inner Work

Kamana surfing the South Shore Oahu
Kamana surfing the South Shore Oahu

I paddled my surfboard over a white capped crest of a three foot high wave. It sprayed a salty mist in my face as I teetered over the top of the wave and landed on the other side. The water was glassy and clean on the south shore of Oahu. I’m over 200 meters out from shore when I saw a little Hawaiian kid looking back at me on his boogie board. We smiled at each other. In my mind, I told myself that I would look after that little kid in case he needed help out here in the ocean. But who was I kidding? The kid was only 5 years old and he was already better than me at surfing.

It has been a part of my weekly ritual to go surfing. That crystal teal water always takes away any heaviness that I may have picked up throughout the week. It washes away the nagging thoughts in my head and reminds me of the sweetness of life. In Hawaiian, they call that process au au kai (ow ow kye), which means to wash in the sea water. After I surf, my mind becomes still and my body feels like a hollow pipe. Everything tingles and I remember what my life force feels like. It clears the way for me to be.

oahu wave 2

            As I sat on my board waiting for the next set of ways to come in, I reflected on my life 15 years ago. I lived in New York and I was doing a lot of deep intensive work on myself. I had already finished an apprenticeship with my uncle in traditional Native American medicine. I went on to study energy healing for several years with my mentor Carol. In addition to this, I was going to a therapist who specialized in several forms of deep cathartic work. I was a self proclaimed workshop junky who couldn’t seem to heal fast enough.

Back then, I only had sparse glimpses of my future life. I had faith that my life would change for the better. I knew that I would eventually find success as a Healer. And, one day, I would settle down and have a family. But I did not see myself sitting on that surfboard on the shores of Oahu. The most powerful glimpse that I received of my future life 15 years ago was an image of my future wife. Her kind Native face and bright smiled stayed with me. I didn’t know that I would meet her on Oahu. What deep inner work did I need to do to get here?

The major difference in my present day self and who I was 15 years ago can be summed up in one word. Surrender. I had this drive to keep growing rapidly because I didn’t know what it would feel like to be whole. While doing that deep inner work in New York, I compulsively looked for the next thing that I had to do to get healed. I wanted my Healer to hurry up and pull all the heavy blocks and burdens out of my body. I wanted to passionately hit a foam cube and scream in my therapist’s office to expedite the release of all my pain. I went to workshop after workshop, searching for another piece to the puzzle, knowing that somehow the effort would pay off in the long run. But 15 years ago, I couldn’t tell you what it would look like when I was finally healed enough to say ‘this life is what I want it to be’. I now know what it is to be whole.

kamana surf pic

            After riding a few more waves, I let the last one take me back to shore. As I swished across the face of the wave, the sky burned magenta. When I stared at that sunset, all I could do was feel that golden sprinkle of gratitude inside. This was how I got to spend my day. When I drove home, I got to kiss the woman I had always dreamed about. When I ate food, I could taste every morsel. I no longer need to pull something out of me and healing was not longer about “getting something” from someone else. There comes a time in the healing process where these in and out movements distract us from being in the hollowness. All those workshops, all those sessions, and all those learning moments with my mentors had surprising left a void. I was taught to fear that void, until I learned to sit in it. This is the step that so many people miss when they are caught up in that dire drive to get healed. When that inner pipe of my being had finally opened up, there was nothing more to do but allow the me-ness to surface into that hollow space. That me-ness attracted the right people and lead me to the right places for new opportunities. I trust that now. I trust that allowing my being to surface through that initial empty space is the true source of joy.

4 thoughts on “Why we do Deep Inner Work

  1. beautifully put, George. I understand the feeling well as I too spent so many years “working on myself.” I learned that it is never a finished project but you get to a place where you accept that you are who you are, flaws and all. and that so much of who we are is generational, that is we are doing bigger picture work to heal from generations of historical trauma. I was also thinking about said about feeling hollow inside, and as a surfer who sees surfing as a metaphor for life, the image of a hollow wave came to me and how being able to ride standing up in that hollow space is the epitome of the surfing experience. It is what we strive for as surfers, the ability to be in that magical place and see the world from that Crystal Cathedral. And even if we don’t have that experience on a regular basis (like Kelly Slater or Gabriel Medina) we at least know the joy of the ride on the moving energy of the Mother.

  2. Hi George, although I don’t surf, I can definitely relate. Until recently, serenity was a thing I tried to achieve and it eluded me every time until I learned how to surrender and accept that I am part of a bigger picture. Not greater than or less than, just part of, like a raindrop is to the ocean.Thanks for sending the vision of Oahu back to us current NYers.

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