Meditation? Mindfulness? Scuba diving? How are these three connected? Well, to be honest, I didn't know they were until I got in the water with the gear on and figured it out for myself.
I'm pictured here with my awesome instructor, Sharon. I was explaining to her at one point that I saw the relationship between these three things and truly felt it when we were under the water.
I had shared in a previous blog that I panicked when I first heard my breath under the water and had to come up. This was a serious source of stress for me being in the water. I was tense, tight, panicked, frightened, and thinking I was not going to be able to do this.
She assured me that I could get through this and that once I got acquainted with myself and the water I would enjoy the experience. I was definitely having difficulty with the joy part, but I trusted her judgment and was trying really hard. Each time we went under the water I held her hand and apparently, was squeezing a tad hard. I could feel that I was barely moving my legs under the water, just enough to move a bit. I could also feel that my shoulders and neck were stiff and tight....even being in a fluid environment. I was also terrified to turn my head. She had to take her hands and wave them in front of my face to get me to respond. I was frozen and petrified of hearing my own breath.
Each time we went under the water we tried to stay under for just a bit longer than the time before. I could feel her edging me a bit further from our original spot each time. Each time I came up, I would give an "I did it. That was a little better, but it wasn't until we swam a bit further that I actually recognized that I let one leg go. I felt the right leg stop "holding itself" and it just responded by using the flipper. It was a weird sensation to be aware of my right leg while under the water, but what followed was an awareness of my left leg. Before I knew it both legs were moving and flipping the flipper like they should. As I let my legs go, the grip on my right hand let go too. I felt my hand give way a bit to hers. When that happened I turned my head to look at her and I actually smiled, but when I smiled it go water in my mask and then I was back to panic again and had to come up.
We talked about how she felt when I relaxed and let go, as much as I did. I explained to her that it felt like I was using the body scan meditation that I teach where you allow your attention to rest on parts of the body. Also, by learning to trust my breathing by counting in for four and out for four I was able to regulate and trust that I would have air to breathe.
We don't often realize how tightly wound we are when we suffer from stress and anxiety. We hold our bodies so that we are constantly bracing for impact. In this fluid environment, I was truly safe, but somehow not safe in my own body. I had to cultivate that feeling of safety and once I did, it was an amazing experience. I plan to go back for scuba certification with the same instructor because I know there is more for me to learn and this is just going to be another tool in my tool belt that helps me to overcome the impact that post-traumatic stress has on me. I have to learn to develop situational awareness in a whole new way and connect with my body in a whole new way. It's a great adventure and part of going on a great adventure is a bit of fear and uncertainty. Adrenaline is a good thing in some ways and not so great thing in other ways.
Meditation, Mindfulness, and Scuba diving all connect you to your own body and your own presence. All three are about stepping into the flow of your life instead of fighting against it. Each teaches the art of present moment awareness, which opens us up to the beauty around us and within us. When we are held so tightly and in a state of fear, we can't feel safe in our own bodies. The stress hormones take over and they steal our joy for living.
Meditation gives the mind a focus, while still allowing thoughts to be present.
Mindfulness allows us to feel our body and be present with the present moment without projection.
Scuba diving combines the two, helping a person to be mindful of their body, while giving the mind something to focus on. I'd say that's a powerful set of tools right there.
Visit www.warhorsescuba.com for more information.