The World of Freediving: Finding Calm & Wonder

journal serafina Oct 18, 2023
diver in the water

Freediving is an amazing experience as it combines the control of the body and mind with elegance and calmness. 

At the end of this summer, I went on a retreat that included yoga, meditation, and freediving. I knew what I was in for when it came to yoga and meditation, but I had no previous experience in freediving. I was fascinated by what a perfect combination these three activities make AND by how it all felt interlinked with what we do here at Magic is the Key. 

Meditation and being able to clear the mind is so important because when you dive you want to use as little oxygen as possible so you have more time to either go deeper or to explore your underwater surroundings for longer. Thoughts, especially negative ones, use up more energy than you might be aware of. At the beginning of each dive, you essentially meditate. You find a way that works for you to find a place of calm.  

Meditation often has a focus on breathing, which is another crucial element of freediving. When you are lying in the water preparing for your dive, doing what’s called the breathe up, you are breathing regularly, calmly, until you take your final deep breath. Air fills your belly, your lungs, and your chest and then the time has come to hold your breath and dive. 

What is amazing is that you can control your mind and your natural urge to breathe, which comes much sooner than the body truly needs. It is not a comfortable feeling, but something that you can work on with meditation. Having read Jon Kabat-Zinns’ Full Catastrophe Living helped me personally. Doing a body scan and exploring feelings such as pain and discomfort from a different perspective is a great way to prepare for what you will experience when holding your breath for longer than you are used to. 

At this point, I want to mention that freediving, or any kind of breath-holding activities, especially underwater should not be done alone or without prior instruction. Take good care of yourself and know what your limits are. 

In Book of Magic, we have an entire section dedicated to breathing practices. Towards the end of the retreat, I started using Building Focus with Breath during the breathe up as it was the easiest way for me to clear my mind. You can try Book of Magic for free HERE if you want to check it out. 

Once you are holding your breath you begin your dive. When propelling yourself downwards you want to do it elegantly as elegance is efficiency and efficiency uses less energy and oxygen. This is where yoga comes into play. To me, yoga is a moving meditation that has helped me get to know my body. Each move is purposeful and one small change in muscle position or movement can change the entire experience and how the body feels. This knowledge and awareness of the body makes it easier to translate the right movements underwater.

Needless to say, I have fallen in love with this sport. It transports you into the here and now and feels and looks beautiful. I watched our instructor dive to the bottom of the sea, roughly 14 meters (46 feet), and just hang out down there. There is a special kind of quiet, mixed with the presence of underwater creatures and a magical feeling of being surrounded by the ocean into which the light from above falls and twinkles. Diving myself I was in awe when I looked up towards the surface. All the feelings are hard to describe, but it fills my heart and I can’t wait to be back in the ocean.


Three Things You Can Try At Home That Remind Me Of Freediving

1. Take a bath and listen to your heart

For some of us, the easiest way to get into water at home is to get into the bathtub. Simply lying in the water can be very calming. To take it one step further, submerge your ears. Everything gets quiet, close your eyes, and listen to your heartbeat.

2. Breathe

Take time to focus on your breath and the way it flows in and out. If you do this while still in the bathtub you can feel how the water moves around you if you take deep belly breaths. Play around with it, try holding it for some time. Watch your mind and how it reacts.

If you want guided breath practices check out Book of Magic to get started.

3. Visualize

One of the meditations we did during the course was a visualization of the dive. We started with calm breathing in preparation for the dive, clearing the mind to use less oxygen, diving down, the turn at the bottom, coming back up, and taking recovery breaths at the top.

Visualization is so wonderful because you can also imagine yourself diving with sea creatures, in caves, or exploring reefs. The options are endless. Book of Magic offers an introductory course on visualization if you need help getting started.


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