Mindfulness below the ocean

Meditation, mindfulness have different definitions and meanings, but the concept essentially centers around the idea of controlling one’s mind, being still, present in the moment, simply observing thoughts and emotions, and letting go. It helps you stay calm and control your reactions. And like all wise leaders say, it really helps to lead a happier, healthier life. From what I have seen so far in my life, I agree.

But like most people, in the beginning, I struggled with sitting still and trying to control my mind, which would roam around like a wild horse in my head, jumping from thought to thought. Even a minute was hard. And if there would be some situation weighing heavily on my mind, whether it be my work, deadlines, health of loved ones, or thoughts of my recent devastating heartbreak, trying to sit still and be calm for even seconds seemed like torture.

So occasionally, I went back to the one thing that would awe and distract me every single time, which would be disappearing under the majestic waters of the ocean, and losing myself in the deep blue. Scuba diving, watching the marine life, has never ceased to humble and amaze me at how beautiful the world is, even at depth we don’t regularly see, and how small and tiny we all really are.

And as I dived more and more, I achieved a new sense of calm and presence. Below water, as some of you may know, all you do is observe. Your hands close to your body, you glide across the ocean, not touching anything, not doing any action, your eyes darting from one marine life to another, always focused, on the lookout for any rare, beautiful fish, or other life, that may suddenly flash before your eyes for one second before disappearing back into hiding.

Yet, no matter how breathtaking the life is, you don’t react, careful to do no sudden movement, except for trying to point out the creature to other divers calmly, without startling them. You just observe, always present, marvel at the wonder, maybe take a few pictures, and let go, and move on. To the next wonder, or the next scare.
Under water, with all the heavy diving gear on you, and the mood swings of the ocean currents, anything can go wrong anytime.

Like that instant when my regulator started leaking air, and I had no control over it. Or the time that the current forced me in a different direction and I had to hold on to dear life with a small rope, which also broke. Or the time that I lost my dive buddy and was completely lost in the emptiness of the expanse of the ocean.

And it can also be a surreal, life changing experience. Like when I swam with a turtle, and it swam back with me, when I attended a manta party with more than 25 mantas swimming all around and brushing against me, or when I saw thresher sharks coming straight at me like a Jaws movie. I have never been so mindful as in these moments where my whole body and mind were present in synchrony.

No matter what, how good or bad, I never react under water, just observe, stay calm, breathe deeply and move on. My wild mind wanders around below water too, bringing me thoughts which don’t serve me. But no matter how deep the thought, I cannot cry under water, or laugh (trust me, I tried, it just resulted in choking and losing air!) And in the next moment, my attention would go away from the thought and back to breathing and focusing. If you don’t focus on breathing well, you may just die, so getting distracted with wild thoughts is not an option.

So I have realized that diving, then, is my meditation. My sense of calm, my observing, my process of letting go, my peace, my breath, my focus, my zen. Meditation can be in many different ways, and you have to choose yours. I may not be able to dive everyday, but I can remember my diving process, and try to apply them as I juggle different ways of land-based meditation. And at the first opportunity, I would run back to the water, dive in, and breathe.

My FF thought of the day: You don’t have to do things exactly how others tell you to. Just do what comes easiest and best to you. Find your own path. Be #PowerfullyYOU.

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