Szilvi, again with italic, me (Levi) with normal letters. We’d like to share 5 things we learned from freediving to live a more mindful life. Why is that? Today self-awareness and mindfulness are being more and more popular. It’s that you take full responsibility for your life and being conscious about it. You plan it, you work on yourself and basically you don’t just go with the flow (unless you consciously want to).
You choose zero waste consuming, you choose taking care of your body and to be fit to live longer with quality, eating clean, mental health, minimalism, building a career with work-life balance, being a good mum or dad and a tons of other things. You`re actually being present and aware of your ways to maximise your potential in life.
The point here is to be mindful and pick your path accordingly and to pay attention to the present with all of its details. It’s surprising how much stuff you can learn and adapt in everyday life. For us a Level 1 Freediving course gave a lot more than being able to duckdive, to hold our breath longer and being able to swim down 10-15 meters.
We’d like to show you how much similarity there is between freediving and real life. Things like handling rough situations, overthinking, wasting our time and energy significantly on insignificant things, being in the moment and enjoying it, pushing ourselves to the limit require the same principles and attitudes in the water and on the ground too. The practices work in both cases, just like nearly in everything in life.
Freediving or snorkeling. Or stress management skills?
Freediving is one of the most exciting and challenging things we’ve ever done. And we instantly fell in love with it. The feeling to be surrounded by total calmness and quietness, several meters deep in the sea is indescribable.
But it wasn’t always like this. I was terrified to go deep or even to swim in deep water, where who knows what’s below me. I was both scared and excited to find out about this sport, but I had to try. Just quickly, the difference between snorkeling and freediving is that you don’t use the snorkel, but hold your breath underwater. So, whenever you’re swimming underwater holding your breath with your nose and mouth under the surface, you’re freediving, ta-da! Sounds easy, ha? It’s actually simple, but to be able to go deep or hold your breath longer, that’s when it gets challenging.
I’ve always loved swimming underwater. It’s an unknown world, like another dimension, where there is peace and freedom. But my body limited me around 3-5 meters deep. The pressure is higher as you go deeper and it presses your body. Your lungs are actually half of their original size around 10 meters underwater while you can seriously damage your eardrums if you push through the painful squeaking in your ears.
Now I know that there is a solution: equalizing meter by meter (or more) and going slowly. Ok, I knew this before, but was never able to do it. Just simply couldn’t find the right way. Wasting nearly all of my first day at the course, I finally managed it. Yeah, baby! My snorkeling game is now on a totally different level.
I got into snorkeling a few years ago, but I never liked using the tube. Actually, I was freediving back then already - who knew?! - but I could hold my breath for 20 seconds max, before started panicking for air at 1 meter deep. Lame…
For me the main reason to learn freediving was to find out why I can’t go deeper than that and how the hell to stay calm. Now I can see it’s a long journey to master this sport, but I started enjoying it. My trainer might say otherwise, though, when after 10 seconds I stroked up as fast as I could and he asked “What’s wrong?” I said “I don’t know. Nothing.” “So why did you come up?” I had no idea what came over me, I panicked, I felt that I haven't got enough oxygen, my calf cramped, I’m too deep, all these stupid reasons, just to get out of it. As I said in the video, I get panicked about everything what’s a bit challenging, I really had to overcome this. Stress management skills. Haha.
The deep blue is not really our natural environment. There we are not at the apex of the food chain. On the top of that we have only one “breath” with us. The visibility is limited. It’s not a pool. It’s huge. It can be dark and you don’t know what is around the corner or down in the deep. Yes, it can be frightening mainly because we don’t know it. Once you are familiar with it, with the feeling and your body’s reactions (like the urge for air), it is fantastic. It is a hideaway. It is a meditation.
Parallel universes - Let’s dive into the daily reality
The world in the water and outside of it are very similar. Like parallel universes - let’s dive into the daily reality then. Here are the 5 things we learned from freediving to live a more mindful life.
1. Breathe, be mindful, meditate
Huge amount of people experience general tiredness, exhaustion daily. Many people can’t handle difficult situations or can’t sleep well, maybe can’t push through a certain limit while exercising. Yes, myself included. Breathing is a very overlooked, but basic aspect in all these what most of us do wrong. Highly recommend Patrick McKeown`s book: The Oxygen Advantage.
For me meditation is much easier through yoga, as we do guided meditation, I’m much more focused and relaxed after a class. We always do breathing exercises too, which I didn’t pay much attention before started practising yoga, but I’m the proof that it’s working. With the right breathing I’m capable to do poses more efficiently and I could hold my breath longer than ever before.
Plus we all wander, think or plan something, or even worse, we cry over past things and forget taking care of the present moment. Being in the present, being mindful go hand-in-hand with meditation. Meditation is relaxation. Meditation focuses on the present moment, on the breathing and lets your mind rest. Just go down deep in the sea, relax and you`ll get the same. Calm, peaceful present moments.
2. Wasted energy, overthinking - Unnecessary panicking over situations
In the water you have only one breath with you, there is no room for wasting any oxygen. So there’s no unnecessary movement, because that uses oxygen. You try to make the least effort to get you moving under the surface. You don’t let your mind wander, because you have to focus on the things around you and in you in order to make the most out of it safe.
In real life what do we do? We watch too much tv and spend too much time on stupid contents on social media, we’re being anxious and furious about the news and politics even if we can’t do anything about it or they are not even relevant to us. We pursue to buy unnecessary stuff to prove our status and let ourselves to live by our fears, not to mention we’re being unofficial master-coaches of others’ lives, but struggling with ours. Can you see that huge amount of wasted energy and time? We miss at least half the “show” and can get ourselves into all sorts of troubles, just like we would while freediving, if we didn’t pay attention to the right and relevant things.
I get trapped in this too sometimes. I waste my time on social media unnecessarily or overthink stupid problems, what will be irrelevant tomorrow. I’m working on it. Stupid anxiety. I have to focus on the NOW, to be able to do this, one of the benefits of meditation.
3. Pushing our limits and getting used to uncomfortable situations - training the mind and the body - Overcoming fears
When you freedive it can be scary sometimes. It’s a huge deep blue water with dozens of meters around. The urge for air and the fear of not being able to go further or even back in time to the surface is real. But step-by-step you can push your limits. Like in your daily reality you can push yourself a little bit. It’s not going to be comfortable, but what you achieved yesterday becomes normal and you can go further. That’s how you train your mind and body and whether it’s sport, career, personal challenges or self improvement.
You can stay in your comfort zone (on the surface), but then you’ll never experience that beauty and the taste of overcoming your fears and yourself if you don’t dive in. It’s your choice.
It happens many times that we have an opportunity we waste, only because we are scared of the outcome. How many times we think through earlier conversations again, what we should have said or done? Me too, all the time. However, I said yes to so many challenges I couldn't imagine I’d handle well. And I always figured it out along the way. If you don’t put yourself in uncomfortable situations, push your limits, you will never know how you would react or solve it. You will just keep practicing never happened conversations, but nothing will change actually. It’s better to try yourself, start with small things to get used to it and then go for bigger challenges. You will surprise yourself when you look back, how afraid you were of things are not even challenging you anymore.
4. Realizing how much beauty we can find around us
In the water the visibility is bad. You can only really focus on what is in front of you, so you’re “forced” to appreciate the beauty of what you get. Wouldn’t it be great to do the same on the ground? To see how beautiful a sunrise is or how nice a butterfly could be? Or how lucky we’re with the people around us? Or just truly enjoying a nice cup of coffee or the air we breathe in? Or just simply letting a smile from our loved one lift our spirit? Does it need to be a skill? No, just come back to the present moment and be here and now. Be mindful.
I love to be amazed by the small things. Let yourself to be blown away and try to find the beauty in everything around you. Like don’t get mad at the weather, you can’t change it, so find your benefits in it instead. I’m not a saint, I have bad days too, but living with my eyes opened brightened my days many times.
5. Never alone. LFL Easier together in a team.
Rule of thumb: you never freedive alone. It’s not only dangerous, but selfish as well. Whatever we do, we are just simply not alone. There must be others who share the same interests. Just like us, me and Szilvi. We live this life together. We build this together. It’s not just easier as a team, but way more fun. We are husband and wife, friends, teammates, sometimes mental care helpers. But we go together, we fail together, we get up together and guess what! We succeed and enjoy life together.
It’s true, we are much better together, we support and cheer on each other. There are always people around who can’t wait to see you fail or are not happy for your success, so find the one who truly believes in you and will always be there for you.
Pro tip: Check out what LFL is here!
It’s never too late
So, these are the 5 things we learned from freediving to live a more mindful life and actually this could be an extra. It’s never too late. It’s a sport, a hobby which is not late to start not even for us but for the ones being 30 years older. Just learn to breathe, meditate, pay attention to yourself and the world around you and be mindful.
Regardless of how old you are, what your current situation is, just pick up these habits and you’ll instantly level up the quality of your days.
You can start now. Take a deep breath slowly filling up your lower belly part, then the lungs. Hold it for a moment then slowly exhale. Now look around. Isn’t it nice?