Surf Medicine

BEING MY OWN BEST THERAPIST:

About six years ago I was inspired to take a surf lesson while living in western Massachusetts (where I was born and raised)… so I planned a weekend in cape cod that summer, signed up for a surf lesson, and since – have never looked back. It was like falling in love; falling deeply, deeply in love not only with the water, the waves, the physicality, the adrenaline, the wild, radiant, ecstatic feeling that lingered for days afterward — but I honestly think it was a kind of falling in love with myself. Not sure how to describe why or how… but there was this sense of “ok-ness” — a message I received from the ocean, that automatically absorbed into my body, my heart, all of me. 

I felt inspired to write about surfing in this blog because I “get” how important it is to feel purposeful and connected to the activities, roles, responsibilities, in our lives — and how difficult it can be when we are not able to engage in those things secondary to movement limitation, pain, mental/physical/spiritual disharmony, or other obstacles.

As an occupational therapist, my purpose is to be a catalyst, an ally, a facilitator for clients in identifying and addressing the obstacles to engagement. That in essence is what occupational therapists “do”. Most people think the definition of the word occupation is “a job.” Although this is in fact one meaning of the word; it is not the entire definition. In the dictionary, another description is “a way of spending time”… but in the profession of occupational therapy, the word occupation means: ANY task or activity that brings meaning into one’s life, that feels/is purposeful, that is fulfilling, that supports a sense of wholeness. 

In this way, occupational therapists are facilitators who support clients in removing obstacles to engagement and/or enhancing performance in the activities that matter most in their life. This support can be provided through instruction in mind-body-spirit practices to help someone feel more balanced and connected to them self and their role as mother, father, friend, sister, etc… or through education, helping someone find novel ways to participate in a familiar task… or through exploration of new activities all together if a previous “occupation” is no longer suitable to one’s life… the list goes on.

Becoming an occupational therapist was a bit of a no brainer for me as was my commitment to developing my artistry as a surfer… they both bring meaning into my life, in a unique way; and it is with a feeling of delight that I get to show up daily to be an ally and facilitator for others to fully participate in that which matters most… to them.

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