Kundilini Shakti rises from my lotus root fire. My third eye pineal gland is awakened and pure light radiates outward infinitely. Rainbow wings carry me through the cosmos, and connect me to universal consciousness. I am surfing gravity. I am infinite. I am Love. I am gratitude. I am you! We are ONE infinite source of energy.
“Gaining direct experience of the divine nature of the fire that pervades the universe and maintains the law of change is God realization. Gaining direct experience of that same fire in the form of the kundilinin shakti within us is self realization.”
“Remember, for any practice you need a strong, healthy body. When you practice regularly in one sitting posture for a long time the body will become still, the breath serene, and the mind tranquil. Then you will realize that you have a body, but you are not the body. You will also understand that the body is a wonderful instrument and you should take care of it properly.”
“Only when you contemplate on the higher meaning and purpose of life can you begin to understand the value of the precious moments of your life,” Swami Shivananda explained. “When you do, you no longer wish to waste your time and energy on trivial things and meaningless experiences. Death is a definite fact of life. So, while you are healthy and strong, imagine you are dying and no one can prevent it, and in that situation try to think of what is going with you and what is staying behind. In the face of death do you find yourself happy? If not, what do you have other than misery to take with you? Is that all you have earned through your hard work? Is it the purpose of life to be born, work hard, and leave the world carrying the burden of misery on the journey after death? Creating an environment in which you can ponder these issues with the least distraction is called living a spiritual life.”
-Insight from Himalayan Sages directed toward young Swami Rama
Every moment we have the choice of whether to surf or sink. I choose to surf, surf gravity! (Even if I cant walk)
“The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round and it has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud. And it’s fun, for a while.
Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: ‘Is this real? Or is this just a ride?’ And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.’ And we kill those people.
‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry; look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that — ever notice that? — and we let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because… it’s just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money. Just a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.
Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defense each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would do many times over — not one human being excluded — and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace.” – Bill Hicks
It seems like an eternity has gone by in the blink of an eye. This has been the most challenging journey of my life and I have barely left my bed. Countless sleepless nights have been spent staring at my wall and massaging my feet, wondering why this happened to me and what am I going to do once I’m healed. I clearly need some sort of life change, and apparently shattering both my ankles was necessary for this change to occur. Maybe this change is as subtle as becoming more aware and conservative, or maybe it means moving to the ocean to become a chilled out surf bum farmer, I am still unclear what my future holds and am trying to heal the best I can in each moment.
It’s been two and a half months since I cased a big table top jump and shattered both my ankles. I feel like a science experiment with external fixators screwed into my shins and through my heel bones. I am ecstatic to be getting this hardware removed in a few days, but am also slightly bummed that they will be replaced with old school hard casts which I will get to wear for another month. A month seems like a long time but I know that I will be getting these camo and blue casts removed before I know it.
It seems like every time I see the doctor he reveals a bit more of the severity of my injury. Dr. Clanton finally told me that in his 27 years of trauma and foot/ankle specialty this is the worst ankle break he has worked on. I’m not sure if I should be proud of that or not. Go big or go home right! Ha, this ski town mentality is exactly what I’m trying to change. Well actually, the problem was that I didn’t go big enough. I was a few feet short of making the transition. I knew I shouldn’t be hitting the park, but for whatever reason I didn’t listen to my intuition and I found my self in the zone, landing a big 360 of the first jump, then having a fun run through the pipe followed by a few rail slides. I was in a state of flow and didn’t want to stop, so I pointed it toward the massive booter at the end of the park and flew to my fate, oops. Two and a half months later and I am still sitting in bed, Aspen Mountain has closed, spring is trying show its face but the winters biggest storm is painting the Elk Mountains with a sparkly fresh coat of white. I’m ready for summer but we need as much moisture as we can get. Skiers can forget that growing food, drinking water and maintaining the water table is more important than skiing pow or chillin in flip flops.
Time is certainly not constant. I’m not sure if it goes by faster when I’m stuck in bed for months or when I’m on a ski trip in Italy. I don’t know if it goes by faster when I’m present or when I’m dreaming about all the cool stuff I’m going to do in the future. Two stints of 6 day hospital visits with IV’s pumping me full of opiates and god knows what else now seems like a dream from another life. The upcoming sleepless night seems like an eternity in purgatory, but that too will pass into a memory from a different life. I am trying to be present, living moment to moment like my tarot card reading told me shortly after my injury. But how do I stay present when the present sucks and all I can think about is chillin on the beach with my feet in the warm sand, and an off shore breeze standing the waves up into turquoise barrels. Are we really alive when we are not living in the present, when we are dwelling on the past or dreaming about the future? Its hard to even believe that the past has happened or that the future will come, but it always does. Pain forces me to be present, focusing on healing and enduring the discomfort. It seems that life can only get better from here, and that’s motivating to think about. While I am confident that I will recover even stronger and wiser than before, there is always that demon that reminds me of other possible worst case scenarios. Doc told me that this is often a career ending injury and there is a possibility that I would have to get my ankles fused. Infection is a main concern, and could lead to amputation. I know I am only limited by my imagination, and I am imagining my self as a healed and strong Jedi Ninja Yogi. I will heal stronger than before, and I will ski hard again, and I will dance and surf and run and fly.
I feel like I have been challenged and tested to the fullest. This journey has been nothing short of a vision quest, a true test of my spirit. I have spent two weeks in hospitals, reliant on opiates and my nurses. I spent two weeks inserting a catheter every time I had to pee, as well as working with numerous male and female nurses with the awkward and painful process. A laxative bullet was pushed up into me so I could poop after being plugged up with pain meds. Nerve pain feeling like burning man or a star wars battle was going on in my foot has consumed the majority of my attention and energy and has caused over a month of sleepless nights. For this nerve pain I am taking Lyrica, which shuts off of the chemical communication between my nerves and brain. I am completely reliant on my angelic mother to bring me food and water, clean my bedside commode, and everything else I might want or need. I sure hope this has been the dark night of my soul.
Although the past two and a half months have been painful and have challenged me past anything else, I don’t see this as an accident but rather a blessing. Accidents don’t exist and everything happens for me rather than too me. What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger. I am doing my best to keep a positive, loving, and grateful mind set and am doing everything I can to heal quickly and properly. I had one of the countries best foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Clanton, carefully put my ankles back together using three plates and twenty-two screws in each ankle. I am using an electromagnet device to enhance the signal that tells my body that this particular bone area needs extra healing. Ross Douglas has given me acupuncture and other Chinese herbs, which has seemed to help my nerves and pain. Pam Moore’s magical healing hands have been working on me and helping my body wake up and remember what its like to be healed and whole and working properly. She fed me helpings of her special bone marrow soup. Rob Wergin energetically activated my kidneys and the flow of energy through out my body. He put me under his crystal color chakra device, which looks really cool. Reuben and Joey have been didge blasting my feet with ultrasonic surf gravity healing vibes. I had a pull up bar installed above me bed and have been maintaining my upper body strength with pike pull-ups. I have been doing handstand press through’s on my commode. Sleepless nights are filled with push ups, bicycle crunches, leg lifts, cobra and bow poses. I am taking a plethora of supplements and vitamins including; Mens One, Liver Support, B 12, N- Acetyl-Cysteine Capsules, 5 HTP Synergy, helychrysm, Lyrica, Dixie Drew Drops Edibles, and Premier Research Labs Tranquinol, Melatonin, Probiotics, as well as other smoothie additives. My mom makes me a dank green smoothie every morning. I am making a manifestation book by pasting magazine pictures and snippets into a book filled with art, compassion, gratitude, and infinite potential. I am learning the guitar and can kinda play redemption song. Having my friends visit and keep me laughing has been critical to my survival; thank you all so much!
I am open and accepting to any outcome but am also visualizing a perfect recovery. Here is a mantra and food blessing that I like to repeat. I am gratitude, I am love, I am compassion, I am strength, I am nourishment, I am healed, I am infinite, I am walking, I am running, I am dancing, I am skiing, I am surfing, I am flying, I am perfect. I am that I am.
I have spent countless energy and time wondering why this happened to me but I have learned that why is not what’s important. The important thing is how I choose to heal and show up in the present moment; how I choose to learn and grow from my experiences. I am so grateful for all the love and support that this incredible one of kind community has shared with me. Supplements and tools can only go so far, but what is truly healing is Love and friends. I am surfing gravity in my own way and will slowly but surely get back to the big waves of life.
For the last three years members of our group have made the drive south to Taos New Mexico for the Solomon Extreme Freeride Championship. We all enjoy the competition and having somebody from the group do well every year adds to the excitement. However, what brings us back is something more permanent than line scores and big hucks. It is the sense of community and shared genuine experience that makes this such a special trip.
Passing the Earth ships, the crazy underground tire and mud homes surrounded by only dirt and sunlight, is when I know I am getting close to a place that still seems to have a little magic. Going over the bridge spanning a 700 foot gorge that was rent apart not by water but by tectonic forces feels like crossing the threshold into another world. Last year Joey jumped off of it with his BASE rig, this year we threw off a poopa-troopa in his place. Bartering over turquoise jewelry with native Indians reminds me that this land holds the legends of an old and local population. On arrival to the ski valley I am greeted by the owner of the private ski hill, the famous Ernie Blake’s son Alejandro, and I feel the love that brings my friends and I back every year.
This year we grew exponentially, the surf gravity crew was bolstered by our friends from aspen who were there to compete, (Eric Angus, Morris Hogan, Jake O’Conner, Dayla Robinson, Patrick Westfeldt and Reuben Sadowsky) as well as those who didn’t make it in but came to support and party (Baker Boyd, Katrina DeVore, Molly Etters, Elena Forchielli). We also had our good friends who I will call the Roam crew (Sam Steen, Johnny and Carrie Rossman and Chad zanka). Together we helped each other choose our lines by assessing risk and reward on the west basin and Kachina slopes. We all finished everyday with a few rounds of drinks at the legendary St. Bernard lodge. This place looks and smells like an old austrian ski lodge, the fire pit in the main room reliably warmed our soles and souls when we plan for the next day. The St. Bernard was built decades ago by John Mayer. John started the lodge decades ago, runs breakfast every morning, ski’s all day, then serves traditional alps style dinner every night Learning from his old ski video’s found in the condo we knew to ask him about anklenation and the finer points of good skiing. He loved it and bought our crew a round of PBR’s for having spirit.
Taos also provides us a unique learning experience because of the host we stay with annually. Moira O’Hanlen is an old friend of my mom, back from their world cup racing days, an olympic athlete at one point. Moira still rips up the slopes almost every day in her pink Julbos. She also has an amazing, completely non-toxic adobe bed and breakfast in Arroyo Seco, the artist community below the ski valley. She has a Mercedes that runs on veggie oil, permaculture gardens that feed her year round, and a negative ion copper coil pool, clean with no chlorine. Each year we learn more about organic eating and building from moira. this year she showed us her Bee colonies where she produces honey and is helping a collective of Bee keepers keep more native Queen Bees alive in order to produce a stronger local breed of honey bees. this honey is also what she uses to trade with other local farmers for meat, dairy, and various products. We always leave Taos feeling refreshed and inspired to pay attention to the way we live and eat.
Having an amazing host and traditions to revisit each day sometimes makes the competition seem less important, certainly not something to stress about. Being in that mindset had a great effect on us. Most everyone did well and those who fell behind the daily cuts didn’t seem to mind. I loved watching Johnny and Sam go HUGE the first day, I laughed when morris and Eric went bigger than any other snowboarders but tomahawked a few times before coming through the finish line. I’m glad I had Baker in my ear on the day of the finals saying,” go big, you want top ten not top twenty.” It took a lot of breath and focus to stay calm that day, because I planned, then executed, an 80 foot backflip of a 35 foot cliff… give or take.Reuben’s Backflip
It is a special thing to have 15 friends come from 15 different places to join together as a team and support each other in competition A big reason why so many of us did well, why so many of us went big while coming away safe, is that we have a multitude of advice and perspective to help guide us into a few moments that take all of our attention and drive. All the green chili, the honey, the beers at the St. Bernard, the big cliff drops, the cruisers under sunny skies and 70 degree weather -All of it will stay locked in my memory along with the faces that shared it with me.
This poem presented itself to me and speaks about an intuition I have had, that my life has been an extremely physical experience and has been all about bringing awareness, energy, healing, and balance to every limb and cell in my body. Although it has been a painful and challenging journey thus far, I am grateful for these experiences and I forgive this dream.
All your images of winter
I see against your sky.
I understand the wounds
That have not healed in you.
Because God and Love
Have yet to become real enough
To allow you to forgive
You still listen to an old alley song
That brings your body pain;
Now chain your ears
To His pacing drum and flute.
Fix your eyes upon
The magnificent arch of His brow
And allows this universe to expand.
Your hands, feet, and heart are wise
And want to know the warmth
Of a Perfect One’s circle.
A true saint
Is an earth in eternal spring.
Inside the veins of a petal
On a blooming redbud tree
Are hidden worlds
Where Hafiz sometimes
I will spread
A Persian carpet there
Woven with light.
We can drink wine
From a gourd I hollowed
And dried on the roof of my house.
I will bring bread I have kneaded
That contains my own
And cheese from a calf I raised.
My love for your Master is such
You can just lean back
And I will feed you
Your wounds of love can only heal
When you can forgive
The look on his face was the same one every time Niki “goes for It.” Wide eyed, with an even wider, laughing smile, his strawberry blonde hair flying behind a warriors body poised for a physical assault. Niki’s ability to make a decision in the moment, to do it on-the- fly, is part of what has made him known as the best telemarker on the planet. That split second decision to go instead of stop, is also what has brought his ski season to an early, painful end.
Late in the afternoon last Tuesday Niki was in the flow, he said it himself. For the last run of the day, he and his friends wanted a little more air , after an amazing speed flight that morning, they decided to go for a run through the Snowmass terrain park. As he neared the end of a nice fluid run, he pointed his skis and committed to finishing it. Blue eyes sparkling, he laughed once and accelerated toward the last jump, the 80 footer with a deck that angled towards the jumper. He hit the take off with speed and confidence, but it was not enough. He missed the knoll by two feet. He crumpled like an expert in the field of falling, and those above thought he was ok below. when he didn’t ski on his friends came to him. First he said “I’m so sorry,” then he said “My ankles are broken.”
Ski patrol came quickly. Niki didn’t cry out in pain once. He was using all his energy to keep a smile on his face and keep his friends laughing. He even took the time to take his phone out for a picture so he could tweet it later, as he had been instructed earlier in the day to do constantly for the Surf Gravity project. He was already trying to find the positives and silver lining as they put him in the ambulance.
Now Niki is bed ridden with rods coming out of both shins, Both ankles are shattered. The situation is serious as doctors try to figure out how to tackle this injury once the swelling has gone down. Niki will receive all the support his friends and family can give him. He will heal, and dance again, like the super human he is. Niki has enjoyed a life lived by few, spending the last ten years as a competitive skier traveling the world and advancing his skill as well as his awareness and spirituality. Niki does amazing things everyday that inspire those around him, and he will continue to do so on a less physical plane for a while. Niki has been teaching us all how to surf gravity for years. We don’t know what form he will do it in now, but his expression will still be beautiful and have deep impact on his community and world. Many who know Niki are heartbroken to see such a peaceful warrior downed, but at Surf Gravity we are excited to see a new being rise.
I’m on my hands and knees in the station again. I blink away a tiny bead of sweat, and take a moment to laugh at my current situation. A tour bus must have just been let out, so now to make matters even more ridiculous, i am being gawked at by a group of twenty or so Asian tourists. Two elderly women chatter behind me, and the language barrier is thick, but i can only imagine that they are scrutinizing my technique based on decades of refined origami expertise. Pardon the stereotype, but for all I know packing a parachute is just like folding a paper crane, just with slightly higher stakes. I glance at the clock. Shit, the cable car leaves in ten minutes. I push my headphones into my ears and do my best to focus… Two minutes. I put my last closing pin in, and look up to see my friend Rami step into line. We have a little high five, show the operator our passes, and cram ourselves onto the tram.
There is not an inch of free space. Most of the tourists managed to stake their claim near the breath fogged windows, cameras on quick draw, while the nucleus of the people mover is made of piled paragliders, speed wings, BASE rigs, and like minded people in search of a thrill. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, with its towering cliff walls and ease of cable car access, makes for a veritable grown up playground. Six Flags on steroids. Free spirits from across the globe flock and gaze up at the walls, wide eyed and drop jawed. Paragliders envision their next acro maneuver, speed flyers pick out features to graze on their way down, and BASE jumpers size up exit points, and potential lines of flight. Today Rami and I are about to do a little BASE jumping, and more specifically, we will be tracking. Tracking is using nothing but your body and a pair of fancy inflatable MC Hammer style pants to fly forward. Unlike wing suit flying, its more sensationalized counterpart, tracking offers freedom of movement and faster free fall. You can run, jump, flip, gap protrusions, and outfly ledges using precise body position.
Rami crushes a Capri Sun and pockets the empty pouch. “Flower Box?” He asks through a seemingly irreverent yet somehow still reassuring smile. When I first showed up to Lauterbrunnen, my sights were set on Flower Box as my goal for tracking. Its tricky because a precarious, but necessarily fuerte, push from this exit point puts you out and over a small protruding ledge. It then opens up into a bowl, and while the cliff in total is just under 2000 feet tall, you only have about 800 feet until impact. This means that you need to use the little airspeed you have and your fancy pants to outfly a ledge at 800 feet in order to gain the entire free fall. If you are not going to make it over the ledge the a quick decision to deploy your parachute early can be made, but that can put you in a messy situation because you have very little separation from the cliff that you just jumped off, and the direction that your parachute faces as it opens is more sporadic at slower air speeds. So, Flower Box, just slightly more intimidating than the name would lead you to believe.
The doors crack open, and the people flood out, sending each other off with wishes of good jumps and fun flights. Rami and I stroll through the hanging town of Murren, and after a quick stop at the grocery store for a chocolate croissant, we find the trail head of the via ferrata that will take us to our exit. As I clutch the safety cable that parallels the dicey trail Rami looks back at me, “Nervous?” He asks.
“Just a little bit”
“I would be,” he replies through a Finnish cackle. He can laugh because he has probably done this jump more than 100 times, but in truth I had a nervous hair ball clutching tight to my Adam’s Apple, and it felt like my left leg was uncontrollably trying to shake it loose. As we round the corner to our gear-up cave I do my best to stifle the nerves. After a quick gear check, and we walk to the fixed rope that runs to the edge. As I wrap the rope tight around my hand and lean out to get a better view, a deep breath hits me and I’m finally able to calm down and focus. I back up and try to sort out some of the little things, like the best place to jump from, and where exactly my feet should go. My helmet is buckled and the goggles are pulled down over my face. It seems like we are ready to send it.
After two strong strides and a boosting jump, Rami is off. He disappears for a few seconds until i see him burn out over a ledge down below and deploy his parachute. Ok, i thought, just like that, more or less. So, right foot here, then left foot there. No, left foot, then right foot, then off with the left. Sure, that should work. Inhale, exhale, 3,2,1, see ya… I push off and watch the first protrusion rip past my feet, and the visual sucks me in for almost too long. Oh yeah, track, i almost forgot. On every jump like this there is a moment of weightlessness. You need to wait for the downward speed to build before you can really start moving forward. In that moment intense focus is met with relaxation, commitment with a sense of letting go, and the mental snap shot is so powerful that it gets emblazoned on the mental etch-a-sketch in such a way that it can never to be shaken loose by matters of trivial concern. At this point the ledge down below is coming up fast, but i can feel the forward speed coming on strong, and i know without a doubt that I will make it. I clear the ledge and fly out into the open. As the trees down below begin to swell at a rapid rate, i grab my pilot chute handle, give it a hard toss, and prepare to be snatched out of the sky. My parachute opens and I can’t help but give out a little victory laugh. Is this life real? Did that really just happen? If it is and if it did, then I am one lucky kid.
After almost every jump in Lauterbrunnen I landed with that over whelming sense of disbelief and gratitude, and it has stuck with me all the way home to Colorado. The friends I met and the adventures I was able to have over there will keep my smile big for years to come, although, I’ll be honest, I am already looking for plane tickets back to that magic little adventure paradise.
Rami Sending It
A couple weeks later with a little more comfort
This piece was originally done as a journal entry for Rome apareal . Check them out at thisiswhereiroam.com for more stories and fresh nomad gear.
Jay Beyer Photo
All the stars aligned this day and DeVore found himself intuitively shredding alongside a freight train of sluff in the promised land of Valdez Alaska. The upper ramp was like a perfect barreling left point break. Once safely at the bottom he humbly remarked that he could now die a happy man, and still to this day the memory of this dream line reminds him that everything from here on is just a bonus.