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Profound Insights from the Ocean and Surfing as They Relate to Ketamine Therapy

Surfing goes beyond being a mere passion; it has become a catalyst for my personal growth and healing. The ocean serves as a source of therapy and a teacher, imparting valuable life lessons. There are striking parallels between the experiences I encounter while surfing and those found in the realm of ketamine therapy. Today, I will explore how specific phenomena in the ocean have taught me to become a better surfer and discuss how these lessons can apply to individuals preparing for or undergoing ketamine therapy.

Phenomenon #1: Surfing in a new location can be exciting but also frightening because of the hidden dangers such as unfamiliar currents, hidden rocks, and unfriendly surfers.

Lesson: New challenges often present new opportunities, but you must be prepared.

Surfing: When surfing at a new location, it's always best to go with someone who's familiar with the beach and the break. If you're planning to surf alone, make sure you research as much as possible and talk to locals. Some of the best surfing experiences have been in a new location, but I always made sure to do my homework first.

Ketamine therapy: For many, choosing ketamine therapy may be the first time they experience a powerful psychedelic medicine. You should always do your homework into the medicine, provider, experience, care, etc. Some of my patients most meaningful experiences in their lives have been because of what they experienced during ketamine therapy. But they always prepared. They spent time meeting with Cindy (LMFT) or other therapists prior to starting ketamine therapy.

Phenomenon #2: One of the most incredible things to experience in life is the acceleration as a wave builds beneath you. It's different from fast cars, motorcycles, airplanes, and boats because it's silent and powered by nature. It's different from downhill skiing because it moves with you and is constantly changing. However, in many cases, if you catch an edge, lose your balance, or simply bomb down the face of the wave into the flats, you'll be instantly pulled underwater with tons of heavy saltwater slamming down on top of you, keeping you submerged for what feels like an eternity.

Lesson: Know when to surrender and not fight the process.

Surfing: When you inevitably find yourself underwater, confused, out of breath, and unsure which way is up, the best thing you can do is let go. Cover your face and head with your arms and hands and turn into a ball. Eventually, your natural buoyancy will bring you to the surface so you can breathe but it may take a few moments. The worst thing you can do is panic. Panic spends precious energy and is futile in the face of the powerful ocean waves and currents.

Ketamine therapy: Many psychedelic substances like ketamine require a breakthrough dose in order to begin the healing process. While breakthrough experiences are subjective, many report feeling that something freighting, ominous, or dreadful is about to happen. And then it does. However, by succumbing and not fighting, the experience quickly evolves into something so positive, beautiful, and meaningful, its memory lasts a lifetime.

artistic rendition of surfer riding a wave

Phenomenon #3: Surfing can be immensely enjoyable, but it can also be frustrating, especially when making mistakes or failing to recognize that you are progressing and becoming a better surfer, even when improvements seem slow and small. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other surfers out in the lineup.

Lesson: Patience is key. Numerous small and subtle improvements lead to a positive shift.

Surfing: When learning how to surf, the level of difficulty can be discouraging, such as the simple task of popping up without falling off the board. It can be frustrating, witnessing an experienced surfer effortlessly gliding through the water which can make it seem even more challenging and unattainable.

Ketamine therapy: When working towards healing, it's normal to desire immediate and substantial improvements. However, even tiny advancements in your mental health may require tremendous effort. Over time, these subtle positive changes accumulate and result in noticeable and measurable progress. It's important to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that healing is not always a linear process and varies for each individual.

Phenomenon #4: One of my favorite aspects of surfing is the moments that feel meditative, where I am fully immersed in the present state.

Lesson: Instead of dwelling on the past or fixating on the future, allow yourself to just be and embrace the present moment.

Surfing: While surfing, you may notice that the more you try to assert control over the ocean, the worse things tend to turn out. Overthink and hesitate when dropping into a wave and you’re sure to wipe out and be humbled by a beatdown. Instead of trying to control all variable or rationalize the 'why', focusing on the task at hand allows for a heightened sense of clarity, calmness, and fulfillment in the present moment itself.

Ketamine therapy: Ketamine therapy can offer both a blissful space and an opportunity to confront challenging emotions. It is recommended to adopt the role of an observer during a ketamine journey, welcoming images, memories, thoughts, and feelings as they arise. This is integral to the therapeutic process. These experiences may occasionally carry meaning, while at other times they may seem less impactful. Both are okay, as the healing process is individualized for each person.

man standing next to a green surfboard with IKT logo


The art of surfing and its correlation to ketamine therapy is undeniable. Through my personal experiences, I have discovered that the ocean serves as both a source of therapy and a teacher of life lessons. By drawing parallels between specific phenomena in surfing and the journey of ketamine therapy, we can learn to embrace preparation, surrender to the process, practice patience, and fully immerse ourselves in the present moment. Whether riding the waves or embarking on the path to healing, these insights from the ocean and surfing can guide us towards transformation and personal growth.

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