There is a new tradition starting today on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday I’m going to cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding.

Here is today’s quote that Christy Matta, MA reminded us of in her comment from the blog post 10 Quotes for a Mindful Day

 “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

In everyday life we are guaranteed to have things rise and fall all the time. At one point someone we know is having a baby and close to the same time someone is passing away. Someone is getting married, while another couple is getting a divorce. During a certain phase of life this may seem like the worst time that will ever be and two months later something wonderful happens.

Everyone has ups and downs, sometimes seemingly more extreme than others. To make this more specific to mental health issues. If someone is struggling with Panic Disorder, the panic attacks have an initial lift of the wave, peak, and then eventually come down. Cravings and urges for addictive behaviors follow the same course as well as compulsions for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Those struggling with bipolar disorder certainly understand the rise and fall of these waves.

The distress comes up as waves of sensations coming and going. Our work is to learn how to surf them so that we come to acknowledge the wave when it is there, become present to it, and now have the choice to get on the board and ride it out with a greater sense of ease and grace.

The late Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and it’s all Small Stuff, had a chapter that I always appreciate that was titled “Be Grateful for the Good Times and Graceful during the more Difficult Times.” In The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran speaks about how all our emotions are always present, it’s just that when depression is there, happiness is slumbering and when happiness is there, depression is slumbering.

Life seems to have the element of rising and falling like waves in the ocean. One way to learn how to surf is by engaging in mindfulness practices. You can do a number of things to learn more about this and integrate it more into your daily life.

  1. Stay tuned and look at past posts of the Mindfulness & Psychotherapy Blog
  2. Google Mindfulness programs in your area and attend to check them out
  3. Purchase Guided Mindfulness Meditation CDs or programs
  4. Follow the Mindful Living twitter feed  
  5. Go onto Youtube and see what guided practices they have there to follow, but look up the person to see if this is someone you want to receive guidance from.

What helps you to surf the inevitable tides of life? As always, share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.


    Last reviewed: 27 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2009). Mondays Mindful Quote: Jon Kabat-Zinn. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 6, 2015, from


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Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life
A Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Workbook

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