26 Jan

What do Buddhist Monks and Scuba Divers have in common?

I will never forget the day I taught a Yoga Instructor how to dive. During the pool portion of the PADI Open Water Course, I showed her how to clear her mask by slowly exhaling through her nose, and in my infinite teaching wisdom advised her to do it comfortably yet quickly to avoid water being around the nose for too long. She blatantly ignored my advice and decided instead to take three breaths, each one calmly clearing just a little bit of water, slowly looking to the surface and breathing out. It was beautiful to watch, how comfortable she was having water in her mask. At the surface I remarked she must have done that before, to which she replied, “no never, but it felt cool”.
In that moment, I realized that through all the problems students have in their PADI courses, and their diving career in general, one thing lies at the root of those obstacles. Anxiety and fear. What is the most effective way of combatting these obstacles? Clear focus.
scuba diving meditation
Meditation is something that you say out loud in public and expect only the girl with the dreads to understand. However, people meditate everyday, throughout the day, without even knowing it. Driving in the car, taking the train, listening to your favorite song, writing a poem or playing an instrument. Meditation is a fancy way of saying, focusing on one thing and enjoying every moment of it. Diving is that to most of us who live it, a chance to let go and surrender ourselves to a world that continues to amaze and relax us.
From your first breath underwater, your body will begin to stimulate the Mammalian Dive reflex, the incredible physiological response to the face hitting the water. As this happens, our heart rate naturally slows, and our body calms down. once we get over the initial nervousness and learn to embrace this response, our body works WITH us to achieve a state or relaxation. The more you dive, the more you benefit from this reflex- and the more you change the way you handle stress. People always say divers are chilled. People tell me all the time it must be so cool to work with such cool people. Of course we are chilled, we are meditating all day!
Even if I am teaching students, my body is still immersed in that same reflex we share with all mammals. I feel it allows me to be even more prepared if problems arise, as I am calm, collected and aware- ready to deal with any situation. I find students who practice yoga and meditation understand what it is to have a mental obstacle, and in doing so more quickly overcome the challenges scuba diving lays out for us. Having an open mind and a willingness to reflect on what it is that is stopping you from accomplishing your goals is the key to becoming an incredible diver, and a passionate dive professional.

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