We came across a wonderful article in Southwest airlines’ magazine, Spirit, about the amazing healing powers of the ocean and more specifically, surfing. Van Curaza, a former pro surfer, started a nonprofit called Amazing Surf Adventures that aims to rehabilitate people through surfing. In 2008, he developed Operation Surf to help injured veterans. Now Operation Surf offers programs not just for veterans, but also for at-risk youth and for anyone who is physically or cognitively challenged or struggles with addiction.
The article, “Still Waters,” highlights the story of 13-year-old Taylor Cottrell who suffered from a rare immune deficiency disorder. Cottrell was so ill that she became housebound until she started learning to surf with Curaza. Just a few short weeks after she began surfing, Taylor’s doctor confirmed that her blood tests revealed that she was healing at a rapid rate. The article also tells the story of an Iraq War veteran whose life has completely changed after surfing with Curaza. Bobby Lane, 26, suffered from PTSD and a brain injury after serving in Iraq and was near suicide until he attended Operation Surf.
Curaza himself suffered from addiction and turned to surfing to turn his life around. When he got in trouble with the law for drug possession, he realized that he would no longer be able to surf if he kept making these decisions. He then allowed the natural healing powers of the ocean to restore him.
Why have both of these people who have faced such difficult challenges seen unbelievable improvement from a sport? Researchers are saying that it’s the amazing healing powers of the ocean. Wallace “J” Nichols, biologist and researcher at the California Academy of Sciences, studies the positive effects the ocean has on our health. His and others’ research is showing that our bodies produce dopamine and adrenaline when we surf or interact with the ocean in any way. Nichols says we’re learning that the ocean is like medicine for us mentally and physically and believes that doctors will someday prescribe surf lessons and long walks on the beach.
Click here to read the article.