I took awhile to blog about freediving even though when I started this blog, it was one of the first things on my list. I think it has such a special place in my heart that I do not really know how to present it to you or feel I don’t give it justice by presenting it merely as a form of therapy, even though to me, it is really as good as having a therapist, and cheaper in fact.
The best description I have found on freediving was written by Zhenping and it goes: “I’ve never found a better mix of power and relaxation, action and peace, and adventure and calm as freediving – and I doubt I ever will.” For someone as serious and tense as me, relaxation doesn’t come easy or naturally. All my life, I have learned (wrongly) that the way to succeed and survive is to compete and fight hard, to do more than is required, always be on your guard and never lose your position. For someone who grew up with such a belief system, discovering freediving was such liberation.
I learned that relaxation, counter-intuitively, was the most important means to excel in this sports or activity. I learned about my body, I became so much more aware of my body, my respiratory system, my musculature, and especially the spaces inside my head, neck, and chest. I started learning to voluntarily use my soft palate to equalize my ears, what was once an involuntary movement for swallowing and yawning. I am also learning how to use my diaphragm and the glottis. Yes, glottis control is needed not only for speech sounds, but also to perform another maneuver also required for equalization of the middle ear.
I got to know my body like never before. I started to reclaim my body. It’s going to sound funny but my body used to feel like an appendage to my mind. I am someone who was always stuck in her own mind. So much rumination went on in there, there was always bustling and lots of activity – contemplation, retrospection, planning ahead, and worrying – and my body basically just nervously tagged along, hidden, contorted, slouched, blending into the surroundings. I felt that the body was just for show and I did not like showing it. Freediving helped me reclaim my body. I feel that I own it now and have more control over it.
Perhaps another sports or activity may have a similar effect for you, opening your mind and reconnecting it to your heart. Yoga and CrossFit seems to help many people. If you have been feeling that you are working your mind a lot more than your body, and always easily stressed and tensed, I suggest trying a sports or activity that you never previously considered or is actually the last thing you would ever think of doing, for whatever reason (Really, swimming and water were never my thing until March/May 2017). It might just be the thing you need. Never say never. And be open and creative to seek solutions to meet your needs.
I have so much more to write about this (yes, freediving is so much about the mind as well), but I shall stop for now. Through freediving, I have found that my own body and mind are my personal therapists and of course, so are my freediving instructors and friends. I have discovered a whole new way and world to learn about myself.