After a few days spent in the heart of Sydney, I met up with a massage therapist near Bondi beach, Sydney’s world famous Surf beach. We met up for a massage and osteopathy swap, and we finished with a beautiful big salad and a chat. We got on very well, and she was kind enough to arrange for one of her friends to host me! So I am now staying in Coogee, which is a wonderful small beach South East of Sydney.
I could think of worse places to be! So I am hanging out at the beach everyday, and walking between the beaches of Coogee, Bronte (pictured above), Tamarama, and Bondi. I have met and treated other massage therapists and their family, I am getting meals cooked for me in return for my treatments, or offers of accomodation for my oncoming travels, notably in Cairns and Byron Bay. It is a wonderful experience to meet people in similar fields to mine, who are interested in what I have found out so far, and my new and improved approach.
Importantly, my new age osteopathy slash thai slash chi massage is proving to be rather effective on the small amount of people I have treated so far. I am busy bringing all the information together, so it makes sense to me, and feels “together” for the patient. I would not want my treatment to feel patchy, as it can quickly become uncomfortable.
Even more importantly, I am really enjoying treating these people, my new friends, and practising what I have learned.
The rest of my time is spent studying my Thai and Chinese medicine books, as well as Western medicine and anatomy books, to refresh my knowledge of physiology and anatomy. I might as well make the most of my time! I am also managing to keep up the practise of meditation, with about an hour every other day. The beach has become my favourite place for it. I then run and jump into the waves, swimming and enjoying the tumbles.
I am learning to bodysurf. What you need for bodysurfing, is a body, and some waves. Once you’re in the water, you swim hard to get beyond where the waves break. Then you watch the Ocean. The water is about 20 degrees, the sun is burning and even out there in the middle of the water, it smells of sunscreen lotion mixed with seaweed. Once you spot a nice swell (or see the other bodysurfers getting excited), you turn your back to the wave, and start swimming like a lunatic towards the shore. The aim is to pick up speed before the wave catches you.
When you do not pick up enough speed, the wave engulfes you and pulls you deep into the Ocean, filling your nose and mouth full of terribly salty sea water. But if you manage to swim fast enough, and stay perpendicular to the oncoming wave, as it approaches you, you can feel the power of the ocean lifting you up gently.
At first, you are gently being propulsed into the sky on a big fluffy cloud. The wave is thundering behind you, and breaks a couple of centimetres from your toes. From that moment, I found the best technique to outstretch both arms in front of you, and keep kicking your legs. Once the power of the wave is released, gravity catches up with the rising water and yourself, and the foam crashes down towards the sand. Because you continued kicking your legs, you stay on top of the wave. You are high up on the wave, kicking hard, watching the beach, the water, being propulsed forward at great speed. This is body surfing.
There is no graceful way of getting off the wave. As it hits the sand, the wave’s strength disperses, and your weight is no longer supported, so you too fall towards the bottom, often in a big tumble. I find that my generous buttocks tend to find the surface first, and then I fight the water until my face reaches the air. You cannot breathe in straight away, as you must first expel all the sea water that has entered your nose and mouth. The salty, nauseous taste stays with you as you take your deep inbreath. The cool air feels delicious and restore your lungs. Another couple of breaths, before facing the Ocean and swimming out again.
I finally give up when a wave brings me all the way to the shore. I am breathless, exhausted and thirsty. I run out, and dive on the warm towel waiting for me, spread out on the perfectly soft sand.