How I got caught by a riptide and almost drowned at Bondi Beach. A blog post about fear, peace of mind and The Three Principles.
In June 2018 me and my wife were attending The Three Principles School at Salt Spring Island, Canada. (The Three Principles School was founded by the late Sydney Banks together with Elsie Spittle and Chip Chipman to keep the teachings of The Three Principles, that I’m about to share in this blog, as pure as possible).
At the end of our visit Elsie kindly invited us both to lunch. We had a really great conversation about life and about the principles. I shared a story with her when I was in my twenties and got caught by a riptide and almost drowned. And how I, from an understanding of the principles, now can look back at that experience and extract a lot of wisdom by seeing the principle of mind, consciousness and thought in action.
My experience of almost drowning at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia is in one way comic, in one way scary and in another way filled with hope. We had a good laugh at the comic side of the story and had deep reflections about how the principles are the trinity that creates the human experience.
Elsie encourage me to write a blog post and share my story. It has been on my todo list since then, but it isn’t until now that I feel that it has matured enough to be shared. So, three years later, I’m releasing my blog post about how I got caught by a riptide and almost drowned at Bondi Beach.
I have created this blog post in three parts, as an attempt to help you as a reader see something new and fresh. Part 1 starts with me sharing that before I started to learn about The Three Principles I was stuck with a lot of insecure thinking and feelings. My insecurity has gone up and down through life and around the time of the incident at Bondi, I had a lot of insecure thinking. Part 2 is the actual experience and part 3 connects the dots from my experience to what I understand today about The Three Principles.
What’s on offer when we start to be aware of how the principles of mind, consciousness and thought works in the present moment, is a deeper understanding that we always have access to a healthy self-esteem, our innate wellbeing regardless of our external circumstances. This is hopeful if you are looking for a way to make a positive shift in your life.
I know that my experience at Bondi is an extreme example. But I think it is a good example that really shows that we humans are constantly navigating and experiencing life from the inside-out through the three principles of mind, consciousness and thought.
Part one – Insecure thinking
In 1987 I was twenty years old and was traveling around the world as a backpacker together with my brother. It was an amazing trip where we had a lot of fun and collected mutual memories. Looking back I also remember and can now see that during that period of my life, my insecure thinking about myself made me very self conscious. I spent a lot of time and energy comparing myself with my friends who seemed to have a stronger confidence and in my eyes was more popular.
On the day of the incident I was hanging out with my friends on Bondi Beach. I remember that just before we went down and played with the waves, I lay on my beach towel and was ruminating about last night and my insecurity around girls. I thought that my confidence would get better as soon as I got rid of my acne, became more popular etc, etc. At that time I connected my insecurity to external events and didn’t see that it had anything to do with my thinking in the moment.
To the reader: Part one is just to give you some kind of idea about how my thinking and reality looked at that time for me. It’s an important piece of the story I’m about to share.
Part two – The story
It was a really beautiful day and Bondi Beach was packed with people. The waves were great and me and my friends went into the water to body surf. I don’t know how long we’d been in the water, but suddenly I was behind the wave break and got further and further away from the beach.
What I didn’t know then was that I had been caught by a riptide, I didn’t even know what a riptide was and obviously had no clue whatsoever how to act, except swim for life.
It didn’t help me either that I started to think about sharks. I had heard that there had been shark attacks on Bondi and those thoughts really freaked me out. With that fear in my body I tried even harder to get in.
I did think about calling for help so that I could be rescued by the lifeguards. But thinking about that gave me pictures in my head of how embarrassed I would be when everybody on the beach was watching me being rescued. So this was completely out of the question for me, I just couldn’t do it.
So now I was on my own, I felt really scared and was starting to get really tired of all my swimming that was in vain. I just kept on getting more tired and kept getting further away from the beach. In my panic I got an insight, it was a thought that told me, – Hey Kenny, if you keep on swimming like you do now, you’re just going to die faster. That thought made me 100 % sure, no exceptions, that I was going to die by drowning.
After that insight it just took a second and I experienced a deep sense of calmness, all my fearful thoughts about sharks and drowning vanished. Knowing that this was my last moments of life and in that state of calmness I started to swim slower.
My fearful thoughts was replaced by life flashbacks and thoughts about how my brother would react after finding out that I was missing. Feelings of love and compassion replaced my fear. I felt really sad for my brother and my mother, knowing that my brother had to make the call to our mother in Sweden and tell her that I had drowned.
My reality at that moment was that I’m going to die, no hesitation at all. So when I saw another guy swimming about 5 meters from me, my first thought was, poor guy, he is also drowning. In my mind then I was thinking that, okay, let’s call him over and we can hang out and talk until one of us dies. So I shouted, – Hey, you got a minute!
He swam over and asked me, – Are you tired? I became a little perplexed and thought, that’s a stupid question, of course I’m tired. So I told him, – Yes I’m tired. He’s reply was, – Grab onto my feets and paddle with yours and I will take you in.
Now I was really confused, but I did as he said. Frankly I don’t remember how long time it took, but after a short while I was standing with shaky legs on the beach. I thanked him and went straight to my beach towel, laid down and went through my experience in my mind.
I felt that I had been given a second chance in life and that I needed to take care of that chance. I thought that now is the time for me to appreciate life, drop my insecurity and have more fun. Well, that worked for a little while, a year later I was hit by a life crisis and severe anxiety. I survived that too, but that’s another story.
Part three – Extracting wisdom
I can continuously as my understanding of the principles deepens, extract a lot of wisdom from my experience at Bondi Beach and I would like to share two of my most beneficial insights with you.
The value I see from my story is that I can look back and see how the principles of mind, consciousness and thought, in the present moment, constantly are operating behind the scenes. These insights give me hope, these insights let me trust that there are always infinite possibilities to have new experiences and in the end these insights let me give my own mind enough space just to be.
As I shared in the beginning of my story, my reality at the time of the experience was that I was feeling insecure, I didn’t share my insecure feelings with anyone. I thought that I was kind of alone feeling like that, everybody else in my eyes seemed to be confident. So for me I did my best to keep up and protect my self image.
The pictures I got in my head of feeling embarrassed if I would be rescued by the lifeguards combined with my present understanding of insecurity were limiting me from calling out for help, it was no option for me!
Today I can see insecurity from another level of understanding and if I were in the same situation today, I would scream like hell, be embarrassed and then get over it. But then I just couldn’t do it, it didn’t matter what anybody else would have told me or if I had tried to pep talk myself, I just couldn’t do it. It was my reality and after I got that picture of embarrassment in my head, I didn’t even had any more thoughts about calling for help.
What I know today is that I can’t force myself out of my own reality (I can’t see what can’t see, and I can’t understand what I can’t understand). Instead I know deep in my consciousness that what shifts my reality is insights, it’s new thinking and a new level of understanding. For me, it creates feelings of hope when I truly know that I always have the ability and potential to have insights and see life from a higher level of understanding.
So what insights has helped me to be calm in being stuck in the unknown?
Two insights that I see more and more clearly are the following:
1. My perceived reality is made from the inside-out by the power of thought, when my thinking changes, my reality and my feelings changes.
2. Mind, divine intelligence, my essence, life energy, soul, whatever I choose to call it, is the true source of happiness. I am, you are, all people are always connected to this universal energy of life, our innate wellbeing. We feel this intelligent energy of life when our mind is calm and present.
Let’s explore my first insight
My perceived reality is made from the inside-out by the power of thought, when my thinking changes, my reality and my feelings changes.
First let’s distinguish the power of thought with what kind of thinking we create with the power of thought. In my story from the beginning to the end the power of thought was present all the time. It was only the thinking in the moment that was shifting. It is really good to know that you, me or anyone else can’t have an experience of life without the power of thought.
At the time of the incident I was not aware of this power, but it didn’t matter, it was still there and it is still here with me now as I write in this blog post about that moment in my life. The power of thought is also with you now as you read the text that I have written. How you use this universal power is determining your present experience of my blog post.
Back to the story! First this power created insecure thinking at the beach. Then this power created thoughts about sharks. Then I got a realization and the thought – Hey Kenny, if you keep on swimming like you do now, you’re just going to die faster. Then I thought about my brother and mother etc. etc. As soon as my thinking shifted with this power, so did my reality and so did my feeling state.
This is just the way it works and it’s really beneficial to understand that the only reality we can experience is created from the inside-out by the power of thought. So today I see that the ever flowing energy of thought is one of the most powerful forces in the universe and that the thinking this energy creates at the same time is just simple thought, it’s a paradox. Because if we don’t give our own energy to what kind of thinking the power of thought creates or take it seriously, it will pass by itself.
On the other hand, if we truly believe in what we think and give it energy, it will, first be our individual reality, and then it will manifest in the world of form. This is true for both positive and negative thoughts.
With a higher level of understanding about the power of thought you and me can nourish our free will of letting thought in the moment pass. Or another way to see it, we have a free will to cling on to thinking that isn’t beneficial to us. If we choose not to cling on, we will give room for and allow life to naturally provide us with more beneficial thoughts. Just observe small children, they are experts at not clinging on to their thinking and to be fully engaged in the present moment.
The second insight
Mind, divine intelligence, my essence, life energy, soul, whatever I choose to call it, is the true source of happiness. I am, you are, all people are always connected to this universal energy of life, our innate wellbeing. We feel this intelligent energy of life when our mind is calm and present.
This is the most beautiful and beneficial insight that I have got, it has been a game changer for me. This discovery was my way into learning more about The Three Principles and has allowed me to see that this understanding has the potential to help anyone get rid of their mental suffering. It is an omnipresent safety net that exists beneath our personal thinking that most people are not aware of.
For me this is not a belief anymore, it is a knowing. I have my own experience of mental suffering and its negative consequences. I have a before and an after, I have been touched by and experienced what a deeper understanding of thought, mind and consciousness does for me personally. I’m also aware of what a lack of understanding can do.
In my twenties I experienced severe anxiety and had some really scary panic attacks that I also became afraid to experience again. Unfortunately during this period in my life my mother committed suicide.
My mother did her best as a single mom. Before she got depressed, I remember her being very social, full of energy and that she gave me and my brother a lot of love, but in the end she didn’t feel love for herself. She had gone through a divorce from an abusive marriage and was also caught up by thoughts about her childhood (In the 40s and 50s at the age of 3 to 10 she was detained in Sweden’s worst orphanage and was shoveled around in various foster homes).
To see her make that shift, from being full of life and energy to become depressed, didn’t make sense to me. I felt helpless in my effort trying to help her feel better about herself. By calling an ambulance and taking her to the hospital I stopped her the first time she tried to commit suicide, but a couple of years later on the second attempt she died at the age of 51.
Around 8 years after my mothers passing in the search for better feelings I started to get into personal development. It was a new world for me, but also a lot of work trying to change my circumstances and my thinking, in order to feel better.
I started to read and listened to hundreds of different books and audio tapes on personal development. I began to meditate, wrote affirmations and kept a life journal every day. I don’t say that it’s wrong, I did love it, but it didn’t help me find true happiness and peace of mind, for me it just triggered my urge to do more and read more.
In combination with family life and career all this searching was another layer on my todo list, and it made me feel disconnected with just being me. Still, I think that it fulfilled its purpose for me, we are all on our individual journey and as someone wise has said, those who search will find. In my search I stumbled onto a blog post that led me to a book about the three principles of mind, consciousness and thought.
What I heard in that book was that – you are okay, happiness is your default setting, you don’t have to work on it, you already got it!
WOW, that insight came as fast as my thinking was shifting on Bondi Beach. For me it was the missing piece of the puzzle. I had read a lot of books about consciousness, thought and spirituality, but more on the surface and not as a set of spiritual psychological principles that explains how our human experience is created from the inside-out. The Three Principles was explained in such a simple and profound way that it sneaked by my analytical thinking and became an insight. My level of understanding about mental health rose at that moment. This insight took away a lot of stress for me and got me connected to a very deep sense of calmness.
In this feeling of deep calmness, combined with my new understanding of mind I knew right there and then that I was already at home. I knew that I was already connected to my happiness. I also knew that this is true for everybody else, and right there and then my search for happiness was over.
Did all my negative thoughts and feelings disappear for good with these insights? No, it hasn’t. But today I allow myself to feel more, because I’m not afraid of negative or positive feelings, now I know were my feelings stem from. So when I’m temporarily low, I don’t fight with my thought-created experience and give it energy. Instead, with my understanding of the principles, I do myself a favour and try to lean against a calm mind to make it easier for more suitable thoughts and insights replace old outdated thoughts.
I trust this natural process, for me, my experience at Bondi Beach is proof that better feelings are only one thought away. The shift that I made from being freaked out to being calm and compassionate, shows both the power of thought in action and the fact that our default setting is a calm mind = good feelings despite our circumstances.
I hope my story and my insights in this blog post have intrigued you to learn more about the spiritual essence of the principles. A deeper and clearer understanding and feeling of the topic can be gained from listening to Sydney Banks videos and audio recordings, and from reading his books. I would recommend the official website https://sydneybanks.org/ as a great place to begin your own research.