A Mind Full of Beaches

Friday, October 09 2020, 8:40PM

Where do you go to calm yourself and recharge the batteries? Everyone needs a space that’s all their own, where they can just be. To remember who you are at your core. 

I remember being on holiday with my sister in Tasmania and we trekked out to Liffey Falls. There was another lady there who was perched on a rock just staring at the waterfall for what seemed like years. When she finally moved, she came to say hi on her way out, and she said something that has stayed with me all these years: she was soaking up the waterfall in her mind so that when she went back to her job as a surgeon she could come back there in her mind.

As a twenty-something just out of uni, I thought how profound that was. That our minds had the ability to take us places when we couldn’t actually go there.

Over the years, I’ve collected beaches and sea coasts. Rugged places, calm stretches of sand, snug little coves with waves rolling endlessly in and out. The lichen covered beaches of north-east Tasmania, the west-facing beaches of New Zealand, the shallows in and around coastal inlets. Cultivating escapes for when I have to stay put. Probably my most visited beach has to be Kendall’s Beach near Kiama. It’s not large, nor is it the most scenically spectacular beach, but it has character and a view with a lighthouse. And I can sit undisturbed and soak in the replenishing nature-ness of it all. 

My mind lost many things with the stroke. But the beaches stayed. And were replenished. It’s odd, no matter how long I spend meditating at the beach in my mind, there’s always more to see and endless waves of peace to soothe my roughened mind. Just like the real sand smoothing the soles of my feet when I walk on the beach, visiting the beach in my mind smooths the rough parts in my mind.

And isn’t that a comforting thought? We can always revisit places we’ve been by thinking of them. In these days where many of us are staying home, being able to travel in our minds to places that give us solace is essential. 

It took a while for me to regain the ability to meditate again, and quiet my mind, still my inner storm. But I persevered and now I can sit on my beach again.