When I talk to friends or people I meet about my love to water and the practice of freediving I get different reactions. Many people are somewhat interested and tell me they would love to try it but most say they are too scared. My response is that fear is a big part of the practice, at least for me. And that the fear is normal, that we can look at the fear and that in the fear there can be something good and valuable as it shows us a possibility to learn and to transform ourselves.
So many people love water and like to immerse themselves in water, feel such a strong call to the water, to go in, to bathe, to swim. The water cleans, cools, carries, it refreshes and provides life. And still the idea of not breathing and swimming underwater, of being in a seemingly infinite unknown environment often creates unease or even panic.
And so this freediving practice is seen as an extreme activity, not accessible to most.
But is it really so extreme to float in the ocean and swim under? Can diving and being in the water not also feel very easy and effortless?
It is normal to fear something unknown. The fear is here to protect us, to keep us safe. And therefore it is important to acknowledge the fear of doing something novel, not rushing through it but to look at it, to understand it. Most of the time it is related to the anticipation of possible danger in an environment where I feel like I don't belong.
And so when I go into the water with people my approach is to look for making it comfortable and pleasant again. Remembering how nice it can be to be held and caressed, by water.
A key lies in understanding and consciously experiencing the inherent difference of standing on land and floating in the water. Movement in the water works a bit differently than on land. Sensations in the water are also quite different. When entering the water we step into another element:
In the water the vision changes, we no longer see the way we did on land. Visibility is so restricted and at the same time the experience is much more immersive as the water touches us everywhere at once.
Maybe most importantly when floating the ground is no longer felt through the feet. This loss of the ground can be unsettling, confusing and make us feel not in control, powerless.
But if we can trust the water and let go, magic can start to happen. We can fly. This works if it is allowed to happen. When the water is seen as no longer an inherently dangerous place.
So we have a choice: we can fight against the water and struggle or we can go with and enjoy. And transform the underwater environment into an accessible home. I invite you to look for the door and see that it's there. Step by step. Without rushing through or past the fear.
I always had a connection and fascination with water. But when I was a kid I was scared of so many things. Animals and insects for example, small or big. Spiders I disliked and also things in the water, like jellyfish or algae. Mostly, I was terrified of being alone and of being in the dark. And so although I loved the water I was scared to swim alone in the sea.
But over time these emotions have transformed. I am still scared, fearful and anxious of various things but the water has become a sort of home. A place where I feel good, that is perceived as benevolent and healing. And I am so grateful to be able to connect to this.