I didn’t expect this sort of enlightened experience from my vacation, actually. After two travel days filled with delays, reroutes and things gone wrong, I made my way to Cozumel via Cancun, finally arriving tired and stressed. I was looking forward to some diving — having not been under sea for at least two years. Little did I know what was in store for me.
A Connection Between Scuba-Diving And Meditation
I expected to enjoy diving, after all — what’s not to love about warm, tropical, clear waters? This time, however, it was a powerful enlightening experience and now, even two weeks later, I am still experiencing the peace and reliving the memories palpably in my body and awareness.
Aware divers know that there is a strong connection between meditation and scuba diving, as learning to breathe is a part of the training and skill required to master buoyancy and lengthen the dives.
As a skilled meditator, yet not necessarily a skilled diver, I was ready to approach my dive with a deep intention to let go of the anxiety and stress that my mind had manufactured over the last couple of years by staying present with my breath. I was not disappointed.
What I learned and experienced from that very aware dive woke me up at a new level and I realized the dive had a message even earth-bound humans could benefit from!
7 Lessons Learned From Diving To Help You While Walking On Earth
In life, the most powerful practice to learn is conscious breathing. We can interrupt the stress response, calm the nervous system, interrupt fear or worry thinking and experience deep mindfulness. As we train ourselves to keep some awareness on the breath and the body, we will automatically be more present and peaceful.
While diving, this is such an important part of the practice, as slow, steady, controlled breathing through the regulator manages buoyancy and lengthens the dive. There is always some awareness on breathing.
In life, learning to keep some awareness on the breath unhooks you from the mind that creates stress, drama, control and fear. Staying with the breath is key to resting more in the present moment. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Stay consciously connected to your breath.
Keep your eyes open to what’s right in front of you. In diving, we are simply seeing what treasures are right in front of us. There is no rush to get anywhere but to exist and float with eyes wide open.
In life, let go of trying to get somewhere; right where you are is perfect. Open your eyes with curiosity to what is right in front of you — you might catch a glimpse of some exquisite treasures.
Right now, look around, you are here — be here. Learning to see and accept what is right in front of you is a beautiful mindfulness practice. Stay where you are right now, open your eyes and see — what is really here?
Once, when lost in thought and worry about a work issue, I just stopped, looked up, looked around, breathed in the atmosphere, saw some beauty in the office and people, took a breath and reminded myself that all is perfect in this moment. The stress fell away instantly. Look around!
3. Accept What Is
Don’t resist the ocean — its way bigger than you. You can’t control the ocean or anything under it, so don’t try. See it with awe and respect. Relax, accept what shows up and keep breathing!
In life, developing the capacity to accept the present moment and what shows up in it, adds to our human happiness and peace. Even in the middle of life’s challenges (or a scary shark or two) struggling, fighting against or adding resistance doesn’t help.
The capacity to stay centered in unwanted events assists us with the wisdom to make intelligent choices and take timely action. Going with the flow and accepting the moment unconditionally for now, is a key to living life with more grace and happiness on the earth and under the sea.
4. Listen Deeply
With the sounds and distractions of the world drowned out, you become so much more aware of the unique sounds of the ocean, waves breaking in the distance, boat motors overhead, currents moving, but most of all your own breathing. Listening to what is around you takes you even deeper into peace — in life and under the sea.
Simply paying attention to sounds with full awareness serves to calm us, even if the sounds are annoying. For example, I was once leading a meditation retreat and was surprised and anxious to discover the venue was under construction in the room right above us. The sounds of jack hammers and worse were loud and distracting. After discovering they would not stop, I knew I needed to use the distraction as a teaching lesson. We practiced accepting fully the noise, and listening deeply to the sounds as if they were sacred drums bringing us present. When we stopped resisting the sounds and listening deeply and reverently to them, we experienced deep peace and presence.
5. Follow The Current
Nothing taught me about trusting the flow of life more than allowing the water’s current to take me where it was going. The practice of staying present through seeing, listening, and accepting it all, allowed me to rest and trust the current to take me along the way it would.
What if the more we are fully present in our lives, the more we can trust the flow of life to take us exactly where we need to go? What if life had so much more to give us, to take us to, and to bless us with if we could simply let go and let the current of life lead us? Is it possible that life has even more to give us than we can ‘get’ by ourselves?
6. Travel Weightlessly
The nature of the water’s touch holds us suspended weightlessly — allowing us to move in ways that we cannot on land. It feels like absolute freedom. It feels like flying.
What can we release and let go of that is weighing us down? Emotions? Baggage? Irritations? Letting go of the past?
Keeping light is learning to empty the garbage of emotional poison daily so we are free to travel lightly. Practice emptying the mind daily.
7. Let The Fish Teach Us
The fish are not looking for universal perfection, they are swimming in it. Because we have a mind we seek, judge, compare, criticize, complain, create fear, and resist all aspects of life. We search books, knowledge, religions and philosophies comparing them all, looking for the meaning of life.
Maybe all that we search for is the Substance that holds us all. As we connect to the breath, see around us, accept what is, listen to the moment, trust the current, and let go of our baggage we can be like the fish — and realize there is nothing to look for. We are swimming in it.
Create a peaceful state of mind with the help of these beautiful guided meditations by Janette Freeman: