I recently took up freediving (diving underwater on a single breathhold). It’s a fascinating activity for so, so many reasons and teaches you a lot about your physical and mental capabilities. I started out with zero natural talent (indeed, the AIDA ** course that I took runs for 2.5 days and I had to do three extra sessions to meet the course requirements) but yesterday I comfortably and repeatedly went down to 20 meters. And that was because I was able to overcome a mental hurdle.
In conjunction with almost-daily yoga practice and some reading I’ve been doing on the mind-body connection, I’ve come to some major realizations about myself and the dysfunctional habits I’ve developed over my lifetime in order to do the stuff normal people do in the face of crushing anxiety.
I no longer think of my body as something separate from me that’s mainly there to impose limitations and cause pain. Well, mostly “no longer” — old habits die hard and even the metaphors that I’ve come up with to conceptualize this new relationship end up preserving mind-body dualism (“it’s like I discovered a Siamese twin I took no notice of before”; “my body is the house I live in”). But my attitude to my body really has changed.
I’ll be writing more about freediving and what I’ve discovered about my mind, relaxation, breathing, and trauma in upcoming posts, insha’Allah.