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SMITH: Float with less force and more flow

My favorite place to visit is a secluded beach in Eleuthera.
I love to swim in the crystal clear water and walk for miles without seeing another soul.

But the best way to while away the afternoon is sitting under a palm tree on the soft white sand. I nurse a Kalik beer and count coconuts in the water. I know this sounds totally lame, but it’s so relaxing and inspiring, because coconuts are spirit guides.

The Coconut Palm is not actually native to the Eleuthera. It is believed that the large seeds made their way to the shores of the Bahamas by sea, drifting aimlessly on the surface of the ocean while retaining the ability to germinate. 

These reliant little seeds often drift hundreds of miles, then get washed up on some shore, where wind partially buries it into the soil below the sand. After many months, the outer husk splits, the roots shoot out of the bottom, and a palm tree breaks out of the top of the seed.

But these are the lucky few. 

Most coconuts remain forever at sea, floating effortlessly. 

Effortless floating is their default state. They don’t cling desperately to a life raft or shake their fist at the sky when the storms arise. When they get pushed down by wind or rain, they pop right back up. They don’t swim against the current, for there is no need. 

In the ocean, flow is the only way. Force takes a back seat, as the power of the tide always wins. In this divine drift, all occurs as it should, no striving or wishing or achieving. Coconuts don’t do anything except flow with what is. 

I want to emulate the coconut, embrace more contentment with what is instead of pushing for what I think should be.

I want to be the coconut if I or my loved ones contract COVID-19.

I want to be the coconut when it’s raining and I want to hike.

I want to be the coconut if  “my” guy loses the election this November.

I want to be the coconut if my small business closes and I’m forced to raid my savings again to pay the mortgage.

I want to be the coconut whether my daughter attends school in-person or virtually. 

I want to be the coconut when the social media post triggers something deep within.

No matter what does — or does not — occur, no matter how large or small the annoyances, I want to embody a coconut mindset, float with less force and more flow.

Here are five actionable steps to cultivate a coconut mind today.

Get comfortable with silence.

The underwater vacuum of sound is a magical balm for our loud, insistent world. 

In yoga, we use a breathing technique called the ocean breath because it mimics the sound of the tide whooshing in and out. With the lips pressed together, say “ah” in the back of the throat on the inhale and then “ha” on the exhale. It creates just enough ambient nose to calm the nervous system and drown out the noises around us.

 

Float in some water.

Our mitochondria — the “battery” of every cell in our body — require magnesium to work well. Yet many of us are magnesium deficient. My favorite way to up this crucial mineral is by soaking in an epsom salt bath. The magnesium and sulfate ions are easily absorbed through the skin, our largest organ. 

The magnesium helps us float and has the additional benefit of increasing theta brainwaves, making it a great support for those who suffer from anxiety or insomnia.

 

Get enough rest. 

A coconut knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to rest. Until it feels solid land beneath it, it is simply content to flow with the tides. It doesn’t feel the need to fill every second with distraction, noise, entertainment, or news.

 

Look up more often.

What is there to see when floating in the ocean? 

Sometimes the sun is shining and the skies are blue.

Sometimes the skies grow dark and lightning flashes from the menacing clouds. 

Sometimes the blue is dotted by white clouds or seagulls, and occasionally, those clouds weep salty tears. 

The coconut is present to it all without judgment or attachment. 

Set down your device and go outside. Look up and notice what you notice. 

 

Be strong and soft. 

Buddhists like to say that “life requires a strong back and a soft front.” 

Coconuts have a tough exterior that protects them from life’s hardships. But they are soft and pliable inside, a perfect balance of fearless yet fragile, resilient yet responsive, flexible but sturdy. 

When we embrace all parts of ourselves, we know more wholeness. 

 

Erin Smith is the owner of the OM place in Winchester, the author of “Sensible Wellness” and the online host of the OM channel.