Soul People: Josh is the founder of Resurface, who create evidence-based surf therapy retreats. They provide connection, build resilience and flow, creativity and self-care – through mindfulness, group therapy, psycho-education – plus sharing the simple, immersive joy of the ocean.
Words by Rachel Lingham | 12th August '22
Taking a deep breath, paddling out and letting yourself be consumed by nothing but the water has the power to still us. As those of us lucky enough to have a connection with the ocean can attest, a troubled mind can be eased by succumbing to the flow of the swell, letting go of control. We know this has the power to relieve, to heal, to quiet, to build resilience – to restore our body-mind connection.
And Resurface have taken this intuitive knowledge we all have as surfers and children of the ocean, creating something healing and supportive – providing safe, therapeutic spaces through retreats built around surfing.
We chat to founder Josh about his company, ethos, travel & more – this is an inspirational one, folks. Make a cuppa and read on…
We are based in London where we do all of our admin, planning etc. as well as working in our private practices and consulting for other organisations. We facilitate most of our retreats in Tamraght, Morocco, (just north of Agadir) and in North Devon.
This year we are planning to expand our locations and collaborate with other organisations, such as Soul & Surf, bringing us to an expanded array of places including Portugal, both coasts of the US, and there is even the possibility of doing some work in The Maldives.
The purpose of Resurface is to inject joy and flourishing into people’s lives. This can be via the resolution of depression and trauma, or through improving people’s positive psychology (particularly their resilience and flow states).
We show that by joining in with other people, connecting and learning from the team and each other, that they feel better in themselves. To fulfil that purpose, we have created week-long, residential therapeutic retreats that look at things such as trauma resolution, resilience and flow, creativity, and self-care for clinicians.
We have also started doing intensive 1-2-1 EMDR retreats for those who need that kind of work and this year we introduced city day retreats in London. Our research shows significant increases in change in outlook and significant decreases in depression and anxiety following a Resurface retreat.
Resurface was born as an idea when staying at Soul and Surf Sri Lanka for my fortieth birthday. I had a lot of experience working with trauma in my private practice and five years of working with group therapy in rehab, to know how to help people make improvements in their lives. I had also seen the therapeutic benefits of surfing both amongst friends and people in recovery.
On top of that, I had attended a great week long therapy retreat in Arizona called ‘The Inner Path’ and saw the benefits of that kind of intervention. So I decided to fuse all that experience to create Resurface. We pretty proud of what we have achieved.
Purpose is driven by your values. It is your values and achieving them that gets you out of bed in the morning. So any good business has to be driven by your own values. If not, forget about it.
This has two essential outcomes: you are constantly driven to do the best you can and will love the process, and the customer is going to get a much better service due to the passion you bring to your business. So it is a win-win for everyone involved. Trying to motivate yourself when you don’t value something is almost impossible.
Time. I wish there were a couple more hours in each day. On top of that the whole pandemic has been a nightmare. Long term travel planning, which you have to do months ahead, has been almost impossible.
I have a few activities that I like to do that bring me into the present. The main one is surfing, but I can’t do that all the time. Playing the guitar is another. Yoga is great, as well as other interoceptive activities such as resonant breathing, body scans and other forms of meditation. When I get the time, I like to go bouldering too. Basically any activity that gets me into a flow state.
That’s a hard one. Senegal has always been great. I love Morocco but have been there so many times it is hard to distinguish between them all. Some weekend trips to North Devon have been some of the best I’ve done. I’m hoping that ‘best surf trip’ is yet to come.
The ocean is essential to the work we do at Resurface. Not only is it our office for part of the day, it is integral to the therapeutic work. When we’re out in the water, it takes us away from so many of life’s distractions and anxieties. It helps us connect to something outside of our introspective processes for some time.
On top of that, water triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). If it is winter time, then the cold water is particularly invigorating and brings an awareness that I don’t experience anywhere else. There is also the majesty of the power of the ocean and the feelings of awe that that generates.
I get a huge amount of inspiration from travelling. It is usually when I get a chance to read some books and catch up on other cultural needs. On different surf trips I love finding out how the different cultures vary and what they bring to learning and riding the waves.
I think that travel brings so much value that I am not so concerned about the negatives (which I think we’ll mitigate soon anyway). The exchange of values, information and knowledge is invaluable and will be the way out of any ecological disaster. If we shut down and make a much more insular world, then we are going to suffer much more than if we stay open. I am excited by what the great innovators will come up with next, be it electric planes, radical solar energy, nuclear fusion and so on.
The exchange of knowledge, the learning from other cultures and revelling in the beauty of other environments.
I always recommend Bessel Van Der Kolk’s ‘The Body Keeps The Score’ and Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘Flow’ as essential reads in psychology. I get a huge amount of value from Andrew Huberman’s podcasts. There are so many great films but one that really stood out for me, which I stumbled upon completely by mistake, is 1940’s version of ‘The Winslow Boy’.
I interpret ‘Now’ to mean mindfulness and flow, key components of the Resurface programme.
‘Soul' I interpret to mean our human spirit.
'Risk’ is an essential component of growth, learning and getting into flow states.
And ‘Balance’ is only of value to me if you mean balance between positive values. I reject the notion of balance between good and bad in any of its forms.
That means my spirit, which ultimately means all the non-physical parts of me, i.e.my consciousness: my values, thoughts, hopes, dreams, loves and so on. My soul is a sum of all of those things.
A "truly unique fusion of the power of surfing, positive psychology workshops and bonding", this is an intimate group experience where our team provide the accommodation, food and surf and Josh, Kristine & the Resurface team deliver their bespoke Resilience & Flow programming workshops.
The Resilience and Flow retreat is open to anyone - not just those who are struggling with trauma - and appropriate for anyone who is depressed, all the way up to someone who is already doing well and wants to do even better.