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Monday, May 22, 2017

A Freediver Mentality

World's 1st underwater o2 bar
This weekend, I was very pleased to be a part of the 1st freediving competition held in Cozumel, Mexico. It was definitely a last minute decision to join in, and I was over the moon when I received the call that a last minute sponsorship from Clear Lounge Cozumel was also going to happen..!?

For a moment, that "Oh Dear! What did I just get myself into?" anxiety creeped in, but I maintained my will to participate, and warded off those doubting thoughts. Since Thursday nite when the sponsor call came, and then thru-out the whole weekend, I felt like I was entrenched in the battle of evil monkey vs. cheerleader monkey in my head. Should I mention here that us going to see King Arthur in 3D Saturday nite only intensified the mood? Haha!
Keep It Positive
But really, I talk about it regularly in my freediving courses, there is no getting around it. In freediving, you are forced to explore the thoughts swirling around in your head because you literally have nothing else to do. Not even breathe. I can hear myself now, telling students my stories about competitive freediving; where freedivers realize the power of positive vs. negative thoughts, and harness that awareness to maximize performance results. Suddenly when you're truly pushing limits, and operating solely on the amount of oxygen you managed to gather in one particular inhale, it becomes crystal clear the physiological results of each. Stress consumes oxygen quickly, so you naturally go with the more positive and relaxed line of thinking - at least that is the idea.
Well, here goes!
Sounds easy, right? But, it is both the beauty and challenge of freediving and life in general - the simplicity of it. All this big preparation for moments in your life where you happen to be in "performance" mode. Preparation can be for months beforehand, but in the end, the few minutes leading up to your interpretation, all you do is breathe and control
your thoughts - maybe even visualize a bit. In competitive freediving, when it is your turn to take the stage of the swim lane next to the wall, they give you a countdown to your "official top" , which gives you a specific time to stop breathing. The clock is ticking, everyone is watching, wondering, anticipating if you are going to succeed or fail - waiting to see if you will come out clean, lose motor control "LMC", or maybe even blackout, due to low levels of oxygen.
A Mermaid's Breath
At the moment to take your "peak inhalation", you want to be a perfectionist and get it just right; not a breath too big that makes you feel full or overly buoyant, but one that is big enough to give the supply of oxygen needed for the breath-hold. You literally have one breath, one opportunity, one particular moment in time to get it right.

Same holds true for the actual performance unfolding - you want to be a perfectionist. Just enough movement to give you propulsion, but not too much effort, as you don't want to waste precious energy and oxygen.

Work Efficiently
In a way, I consider my approach to freediving a philosophy of life and a way of living. I am inherently a perfectionist, but I'm tired of beating myself up about it. Being a perfectionist in certain moments just makes sense, but everything doesn't have to be perfect all the time.

It is imperative to find balance. The easiest thing to do is just start paying attention. Have you told yourself you can, or you have you convinced yourself that you cannot? As my first freediving coach quoted to me -  either way you're right. I'm so grateful for freediving because it has shown me how counter-productive negative thoughts can be. Not only that, I've learned how to recognize the downward spiral of self-destruction outside of freediving, and am able to stop the madness with a simple happy thought.
So, what thoughts are you keeping? Do you fear failure or are you determined to come out victorious? Are you willing to demonstrate faith in yourself for the best possible outcome, or will you nurture doubt so much that suddenly you find yourself in the middle of the worst case scenario?

Ironically, especially after participating in Cozumel's 1st freediving competition this past weekend, what I have learned from competitive freediving is this; the results don't matter.

While it feels fantastic to give a solid effort, perform well, and get good results, what holds more meaning in the end is the lessons learned and the process of evaluation afterward. That which will change you - the depth that freedivers seek - is hindsight, the exploration and investigation of reasons and motivation for setting and achieving a goal, the search for error, the recognition of success, and the brainstorming to improve the next time. All of that keeps you sharp, and striving for perfection in a healthy manner.
Be True To You
In the end, I am the same person before and after my freedive performance. It is only a specific moment of time where I indulge in the sensation of getting aquatic...for that, I am so glad I did!

Thanks so much for diving in to these aquatic adventures with me!
Smile, Breathe, Get Aquatic!

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