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Feb. 3, 2020

Breaking Your Neck with Jobi Manson

Breaking Your Neck with Jobi Manson

At the age of 24, Jobi Manson made a decision that would forever change the course of her life. An experienced surfer, she misjudged the location of a sandbar when she dove headfirst into the ocean, breaking her neck and spending the next moments facedown in the ocean, paralyzed.

Like a scene out of a movie, Jobi survived the accident and learned a valuable lesson that she had to break her neck to reconnect with herself. This discovery led her to start a coaching practice that takes place in the healing and centering powers of the ocean.



- At 24, Jobi Manson was living and working in Venice Beach, CA

- On a hot day in early July, a friend challenged Jobi to get in the ocean - You Only Live Once (‘YOLO’)

- That moment she ran and dove in, misjudging the location of a sandbar

- Jobi crushed a vertebrae in her neck and nearly died face down and paralyzed in the water but was able to will herself to move

- Though she could move, severity of the injury wasn’t clear until the doctor told her she may be paralyzed for the rest of her life

- The surgery was successful and Jobi was sent home a few days later

- Family was around but it was primarily a traumatic experience that Jobi faced alone

- She felt a deep shame for the accident - there’s no record of it ever happening

- Several years after the accident, Jobi would finally heal the persistent pain in her neck with help from a dolphin whisperer and a dolphin that sent an energy wave through her body

- Looking back, Jobi sees the accident as being anything but that -- it was a homecoming and a chance to live a different life



“And I'll never forget this: I turned to one of my coworkers and I was like I'm just gonna sit this one out and she looks at me and she was like, Jobi 'You Only Live Once.' And as she said that, I ran and I dove headfirst into the ocean and nothing, I blacked out. My arms went above my head and I smashed into a sandbar. And I don't know how long I was blacked out, but I came to and I realized I couldn't feel anything beneath my neck. I was completely paralyzed and immobilized. And I was face down in the ocean." 

“And so as I lay there motionless in the ocean, my body was moving, but because of water, not from my own will. And I told myself that I had to get up. And I told myself that over and over and over again until about probably I imagined five, six, seven minutes later I was able to stand and I couldn't hold my head up. I've always been a bit physically reckless. But this was by far a threshold I had yet to breach.”

 “And I was mortified. I was so embarrassed because everything that led up to that moment was me trying to prove myself.”

 “You have seven vertebrae in your neck and you crushed number five. And you may, in fact, be paralyzed, even though you can move now.”

“And there's an overwhelming sense of: I am right here, right now. And it was such a humbling catapult into my body in a way that I think I had spent the first 24 years of my life running away from.”

 “I thank, you know, the powers that be that it happened in this country. There have been many times in my life where I've been on beaches that are very remote. And I was extremely lucky to have that kind of accident happen when I was so close to the best possible medical care there could be. I used to feel very invincible. I don't anymore at all. And there was something very special that happened that day. It was probably the most important moment in my life.”

 “The paralyzing fear of what life could look like without movement was and is not acceptable to me that I couldn't live that way. I'm sure I could. I wouldn't want to.”

 “I love life. I love being out in the world with the elements, with nature, with people. To be, to have that taken away from me would be worse than death.”

“The ocean is my home. It's my family. It's where I go to be myself. It's where I have the best time being myself. It's where I play. It's where I work. It's where I love. I open my heart in the water.”

 “There's such a pivotal learning experience to rest and to stillness and to patience and softness. But that wasn't part of the recovery. The recovery was sans medication, sans neck brace. I distracted myself into healing. And that was one way. That is not a way I would ever do again. That is not a way I would recommend to anybody else. But I chose to put my focus elsewhere other than on my pain. And that allowed me to in many ways to transcend it.”

 “This experience was the catalyst to softening. But I was very, very, very tough in every sense of the word.” 

 “And I had to break my neck to reconnect to myself.”

“And I refuse to accept failure or what I thought failure was at that time. And so I think that feeling alone, without understanding truly what that meant, absolutely led to that accident, that moment. I don't believe it was an accident. I believe it was a homecoming. That was me being given the opportunity to live differently. And it was a second chance at a new kind of life.”

  “And I would say my relationship to that now is that strength is softness. Strength is vulnerability. Strength is trust, strength is surrender.”

  “Strength is softness.”

 “But I would say that the Dolphins really helped me out with that recovery.”


Learn more about Jobi Manson



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David All

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