THE BLOG
10/24/2013 06:16 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2013

Ocean Wilderness Therapy: 'Ihi Ka Moana

If you do a quick Google search for "ocean wilderness therapy" you'll find... almost nothing.

Despite the fact that one of the best and longest standing ocean wilderness therapy programs in the world is run by Dr. Matthew Claybaugh out of Kailua, Hawaii, the term is not well used or well known.

That's about to change, though.

Listen to Matt describe his important work on LA Talk Radio and you'll understand exactly why I say that. And why we find in each other such kindred spirits.

I recently had dinner with Matt and his family at their home in Kailua, and you literally couldn't turn us off as we tried to catch up and share our interest in 'BlueMind' research and experiences.

"I'm a believer, so it's hard to talk to me about anything else", Matt said.

"This is the only program of its kind in the country. I'm not saying that we are better or worse than traditional wilderness therapy programs, but we are definitely unique in that ocean wilderness is a spectacular, spectacular place to go out and change a young life.

He points out that "people have been going to sea forever, to try to answer life's most difficult questions, and have come back feeling as though the ocean has given them a stronger sense of who they can be."

"In twenty years of taking people to sea, sail trainees from ages 4 to 80, I have yet to return when there wasn't a feeling of personal transformation shared by all," he told me.

Matt has built that perspective into two decades of steady work for young people wrestling with some of the most difficult challenges one can face at any age. His efforts built on a fascinating inquiry into a topic that began very personally for him as a lifelong surfer and waterman and grew in to his 1998 doctoral dissertation at the University of Hawaii, The sea-change in American sea narratives: An experiential perspective.

Over the years Matt, his team, the Makani Olu (Gracious Wind), and the ocean have changed countless lives for the better by working together.

I hope we can help him share his wisdom around the world to change many more lives, and in the process help protect the ocean itself.

That's the vision behind BlueMind, and it's very good to be so deeply inspired by Dr. Claybaugh's shared mission: 'Ihi ka moana. Respect for the Ocean.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.