Deep in the Ocean, on one breath, the pressure compresses your body. You descend into the big blue expansive sea not knowing what lies beneath. What do you find? Ultimate peace, ultimate enjoyment, suspended in time, a presence you’ve never known, all whilst not having access to the number one thing we humans need to survive, ‘oxygen’.
How? You might ask! Why? You might ask. What is this you speak of? Freediving!! The fascinating but very misunderstood sport/recreation demands a calm mind and your ability to control your emotional state and change the relationship you have with your thoughts.
There is no room for stress or anxiety before a dive, or during a dive. Wouldn’t it be great if we had this same approach to life on land. The great news is that all the methodologies from Freediving can be transferred across to life on land.
We live in a world where we seem to be in a constant state of worry, fear, of life events or circumstance in the future, things that quite often have not happened and may not happen send our mind and body into our fight and flight zone which is damaging to both our mental and physical health and left unchecked can have devastating effects on our health and in particular mental ill health.
Freediving is something that can spark that primal response triggering strong survival messages which means we enter our sympathetic nervous system which speeds up our heart rate, inhibits digestion, suppresses our immune system and basically redirects all energy to major muscle groups so that we can run like hell from a threat. In this case our brain just wants to keep us alive, but in the case of Freediving it has the opposite effect to what we desire.
In Freediving: the optimal system is the parasympathetic nervous system, (rest, digest, and regenerate system), where the heart rate is low and the human body is at peace, operating well, and still. This is where the mediation world meets the underwater world. What we know is that the nervous system can affect the quality of our breath, but conversely changing the way you breathe can shift your nervous system. How do we do that? It’s as simple as 3-5 minutes of using a breathing technique that freedivers have been using for a very long time. The moments before leaving the surface and pioneered before them by the yogi’s.
Firstly find a space where you can sit either on the floor cross legged or on a chair with palms facing up in your lap. Then close down your eyes which is significant as it tells the brain that wherever you are, that you are safe. Breathe through your nose as air that passes through the nasal cavity produces nitric oxide which improves blood flow around the body. Belly breathe with this process and try to lengthen your exhale on the way out.
When you put all of these techniques together the vagus nerve is stimulated which is responsible for shifting you to your parasympathetic Nervous system, calming the mind, and regulating your system. The great news is that the more you do this the better you get at calming your mind and body and when you get these self defeating thoughts you can use your breath as a way of centering yourself.
You then over time train your brain to react differently to thoughts that have previously derailed you, kept you from living a full and vibrant life because your new pattern is to stop, sit, breath, and control your emotional state before moving on, and over time less and less or those negative thoughts appear because you no longer react from a place of fear or anxiety.
Getting a meditation practice is essential in our fast paced busy world, start with breath and every time your mind wanders bring it back to your breath and if the thoughts are not ideal just observe them, acknowledge them, thank the brain for that thought, come back to breath and know that you are not your thoughts! Your brain is always trying to play devil’s advocate to keep us from harm but that also keeps us in a state of stress and a prisoner within our own head.
Why not try a Freediving course Sunshine Coast & Gold Coast.
‘Yours, On One Breath’
The Pressure Project
For more information visit Freediving Courses – The Pressure Project