SWIMMING IS MY MEDITATION
It’s been some time since I’ve been in the pool properly, as I mentioned in my previous blog I was only just starting back after my retirement from competitive swimming. It’s a skill that you can’t unlearn apparently, just like riding a bike, although it certainly feels like I’ve forgotten. If only I could get my brain to forget what swimming at peak fitness was like, if it could just forget as successfully as my body has.
Getting my competitive swimming brain to turn off and not stress about how low I feel in the water, or how long it takes me to swim 100m is still going to take some time I think, but there is a side to the activity that I find I have really missed.
As a swimmer there was always regular discussion about how it was one of the loneliest of sports (isn’t funny how whatever sport you specialise in you find reasons as to why yours is the hardest?). Think on it, you may be surrounded by team mates, but while you’re actually swimming you can’t talk to anyone, you’re stuck alone with yourself and therefore forced to deal with your mind.
I am currently going through a big life change; after swimming I worked in Aquatic events, and then moved on to an Aquatic development role. With little progression in these areas and a desire to follow a lifelong dream of making Jewellery, I gave up work and have just started attending University again to study Jewellery and Silversmithing (I know, completely different). Such a change has actually been quite stressful, mainly the financial worry, and I’ve THANKFULLY re-found my solace in the pool.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m surprised at this, whenever I was stressed or upset in the past I ALWAYS felt better after a swim, and the endorphin rush post workout just added to the change in mood. Although I’m not the same physical shape or fitness as I was back then, the affect is still the same. Rather than dwell on my worries, I’m more concerned about not drowning. I joke, I joke, but all of a sudden my mind is distracted by a rhythm of arm and leg movement, of bilateral breathing every 1, 2, breathe, 1, 2, breathe. My skin is aware of the cool, refreshing water flowing over my body and my breathing sounds loud in my ears. I look at nothing but the floor or ceiling, I fall back into the security of holding my breath between flags and fly kicks off the wall. The years of training have become a security blanket and grasping any sort of technique I once had a wonderful distraction.
So I urge you, if you find yourself stressed, or worried, no matter your ability, take yourself for a swim and concentrate on the task of getting from one end to the other. When you leave I promise you’ll feel better, you may even have thought of some resolutions to the issues that drove you to some alone time.
Disclaimer: if you do not feel better, you will certainly feel hungry and tired which can surely only lead to a great night sleep. Win Win.
Swimming is my Meditation: September 29th, 2017 by Lowri Tynan