Written by Sophie Gaze
Mindfulness. You hear that word all the time, in yoga, in self-help books, or perhaps it rings a bell from a psychology class that you took years ago. For me, mindfulness used to be an abstract idea that I had heard in passing, probably wanted to learn more about, but definitely did not have time to sit and meditate on in the midst of my already chaotic life. Well, before I learned to freedive that is.
Mindfulness is the act of being completely aware of the present moment. For example, right now I’m sitting at my desk. I can feel my fingertips clicking away at the computer keys. I can hear the air conditioning buzzing in the background. I’m taking deep, slow breaths as I contemplate my next idea to compose into a sentence. I am bit hungry and feeling tired. I am accepting each sensation or feeling of the moment in a calm manner. Mindfulness is simple in theory, but the accepted culture of our busy lifestyles often makes it difficult to put it into practice.
When I began my freediving training I heard a phrase over and over again that I quite often relate to during my mindfulness practice: get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When participating in freediving training, this motto is particularly significant due to the demand of your mental resolve. Freedivers must be mindful of their condition at all times in order to practice proper technique while staying relaxed.
Static apnea is a discipline of freediving where the diver floats face down in the water completely motionless and performs a breath-hold. This step in a freediving course is just as much a mental challenge as a physical one. When I am engaged in a static apnea, mindfulness plays a huge role. You have to actively allow your body to accept the discomfort and relax. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This acceptance is something that I have found I am now able to apply to aspects of my life that are completely unrelated to freediving and is a benefit to my training that I did not anticipate. Whether I’m stuck in traffic, arguing with my spouse, cold in a restaurant because I forgot to bring a jacket, or whatever the predicament may be, I am able to apply my breathing techniques and mindfulness that I have learned in freediving to help me accept an uncomfortable state.
The mental benefits that I have experienced from freediving remind me of the benefits described by those who have a devoted yoga practice. Freediving is a sport that allows you to search for your inner peace, and once found, allow the diver to go to that same state of calmness even when the reality of their surroundings may not be calm at all.
When it comes to exploring a new challenge like freediving, it’s wise to know a few tips and tricks to get you started. Check out these 8 Tips for Beginner Freedivers.