“I’ve always been an early riser. That’s part of who I am. As a little kid I’d always be awake before Nick, and always up before first light. I liked to get up and go outside. I’d climb trees and find adventure. It was a time of primal instinct. No one else around. Once I got a bit older and started surfing, I found that that was also the best time of day to surf. That was it… mornings were mine. Charge out of the house like a maniac, straight to the surf.
“These days I take things a little more slowly. I’m up at 4:30 every morning. Four-fifty at the latest. In the morning, my mind is really active. I’ve got all sorts of stuff bouncing around in there, competing for my attention. Surf here, surf there, this board, that board… aaaaggghh! There’s all this shit going on in my head. Froth Carroll, right. My mind is very lively first thing and always has been. I’ve been an early morning person all my life, so this routine helps me organise my thoughts for the day and stop me going in a million directions at once.
“I usually set up in the living room, but I open the doors right up, even if it’s raining or windy. I like hearing the birds starting, and just feel the morning coming on. I either do that or I go down towards the north end of Palm Beach. It’s a beautiful place up there to just hang out and connect.
“I get straight up, splash water on my face and then I sit and do a series of breath work sequences. I use a Bhastrika which is a short, sharp breath using your navel. You just pull in with the navel, and then when you let go, it brings your breath in. When you pull in really hard, it sounds like you’re on a train. I do maybe five minutes of that to sharpen the mind, then I do what they call a Nadi Shodhana breath, which is alternate breaths, alternate nostrils – in through the left, and out through the right, in through the right, out through the left. It’s done slowly in big breaths.
“With the Bhastrika, the visual for me is wind chopping the surface of the water. The water is your mind. The breath chops it up like a wind. It lifts the mind up, so it’s bouncing around. And then you come into the Nadi Shodhana, which pulls it back down. So Bhastrika is like being out on a choppy ocean, then Nadi Shodhana is like coming back into a calm harbour. This is where the meditation starts.
“I do a meditation, usually no longer than 20 minutes. Then I do a little bit of asana with it, a bit of yoga. I like to get my body moving. Then it’s coffee. I’ve got a full coffee machine set-up, and I’ve gotten really fastidious about the way I make my coffee. Then depending on the ocean, and what’s going on, I’ll either do a workout, swim, or I’ll surf.
“I couldn’t imagine doing all this in my twenties. I’d never have been able to sit still long enough. I look at kids doing meditation these days and I’m going, ‘Fuck, how are you pulling this? There’s no fucking way I would’ve been able to do this at your age.’ They’re just so switched on. I was doing yoga at 28, full on, but this stuff’s next level. It’s body, mind, the whole thing.
“I’m not necessarily a sunrise guy. I don’t rush mornings anymore. I used to. Race down before sunrise, take the wrong board, surf the wrong bank. Some of the most magic mornings these days are the ones I don’t expect.
“There’s this group of groms I coach on a Friday morning, starting at 6.20. There was one morning at Whale Beach with this lefthander coming across this bank, just tiny peeling waves. When I got them all down to shore, it’s like herding cats, they’re just frothing to get out there. Talk about how upside down the world is right now, I’m the one telling the kids not to froth! They’re bouncing around and I’m just getting them to chill, stop them all rushing out at once, getting them to stop and observe what’s going on with the waves.
“Anyway, this one morning a few weeks back I paddled out with them. There was a gap between the horizon and a bank of cloud, and the sunrise squeezed between it. There was this little left running down the bank and the kids were just in heaven. They just couldn’t believe what they were seeing. That was gold for me. Some could surf, others not so much. A couple of them have got the glint in their eyes. A couple of them are figuring it out. But I was just tuning in with them as they were surfing. When I was younger, morning surfs were all about me racing out and getting my waves, but this is a very different energy. A shared energy, a shared experience, and it’s just fucking gold.