I have mentioned how special freediving is to me. Let me share one important lesson I learned from my coach and it is not to anticipate what is to come but to stay focused on the present moment. I cross the swimming pool tile by tile, one fin-stroke at a time…
First, what is freediving? Freediving or apnea is a sports that involves the voluntary suspension of breath — so you hold your breath underwater. It is not scuba diving where you have tanks or diving where you jump from a platform and perform acrobatics before breaking into the water.
It is being relaxed, taking a deep, full breath, before ducking underwater and swimming across the pool, propelling yourself forward with your kicks, usually with the help of fins (but you can do it without too). And you don’t come up to breathe until you have or want to.
The first time I tried freediving at a Discover Freediving course (I don’t think I will forget the 7th of May 2017), I experienced the strangest of sensations, feeling myself moving in the water at such speed that it became surreal. I remember coming home with such an adrenaline rush that I kept replaying the experience in cold sweat. It got me hooked from the start.
Back to the lesson I had learned. We are always told not to look up and ahead to where we are headed to check how much more distance we are to cover, but to remain focused on the present moment. Don’t think about what is to come until you have arrived. This is not only good for streamlining but more importantly, it helps alleviate anxiety.
Your thoughts in apnea are so important – they tell the body what you can and cannot do. Freediving accentuates the mental and emotional states. So much can happen in a short span of a few minutes. You feel like time is expanded and suspended.
When you’re fully focused on that tile before your eyes, the movement of your legs in the water, the sensation of your body flowing through the water column; you don’t have time to worry whether you will make it or panic that you may not, and you can remain relaxed, something so essential for the state of apnea and your present enjoyment of the activity.
This is also an important life lesson. How much time do we spend worrying about and anticipating something of the future that might or might not happen; when that energy could be focused on completing each present task at hand?
Learning to stay in the present moment, to enjoy it, and not cross the bridge until I come to it are important lessons that freediving has taught me.
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