Riding the Wave of Spirituality: Part I

Surfing Spiritually

Many pro surfers think of surfing as not just a sport but a religion.

When someone is so dedicated to their craft, people often refer to it as their religion.  Similar expressions like “he’s married to his job” or “it’s not a job, it’s a way of life” get thrown the way of the ultra dedicated.  Sometimes these are often meant as jabs at those who truly commit themselves to an art or an area of expertise.  But are they accurate?

Many organized sects have a very strict definition of what constitutes religion, while those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, leave a little more room for interpretation. In almost all definitions of religion or spirituality, there is a common element of otherworldliness or a connection with something more than physical.  So how can a craft or art be religious or spiritual?

In the same way that those who practice meditation or yoga use the extreme levels of concentration to transcend their physical forms, artists and athletes report being able to do the same if the conditions are right.

A recent article on the Huffington Post Religion Blog discusses one of these crafts specifically: surfing.  Expert surfers are so committed to their sport that they sometimes view it as the only religion they need.  The HuffPost piece quotes multiple pro surfers who find more than just thrills when it comes to hanging ten.  So what is it about surfing in particular that causes enthusiasts to view it as a way of connecting with their spiritual side?

It’s almost become a cliche for professional athletes to thank God after a big win. NFL teams engage in team prayers before big games, and it’s difficult to get through a Super Bowl MVP speech without a point to the sky.  So while religion and sports often cross paths, it’s not as often that you hear professional baseball, football, or basketball players say the sport is their religion. That’s what makes surfing special.

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