Still Waters Run Deep: Mindfulness Meditation & Scuba Diving
May 30, 2019
On our recent Spring Break trip, we stayed at Turneffe Island Resort in Belize for a week of scuba diving. It had been several years, so I was a bit nervous on my first dive of the trip. We were given a brief refresher and instructed to take a big finned step off the boat into the sea. On the fly, I had to remember which button deflated my BCD (buoyancy vest) and to trust the regulator to give the air I needed as I descended into the water. It became apparent rather quickly how much I needed my yoga breathing and mindfulness training!
On the surface of the water, I rode the waves and swells of the ocean while other divers are jumping in and the sounds of the boat’s engine revs loudly. It is a fairly chaotic scene. As I descend below the surface, there is a more gentle sway of the current and the sounds from above disappear almost immediately. Once I got to our deepest depth of about 60 feet, the water is almost completely still. All I can hear is the inhale and exhale of my breath in the regulator and there is a slowing of motion and centeredness to be in the present moment. To move calmly and to breathe smooth, relaxed breaths are key to conserving the oxygen and maintaining buoyancy control.
The ah-ha moment happened while swimming in the stillness of this beautiful landscape and feeling a peaceful immersion. Scuba diving is a practice in meditation! It naturally requires you to be present, relaxed and visually perceptive of your surroundings. The moment you are taken out of this zone, your movements become jerky, your breath shallows, and you are drawn out of the present. The divers who are were constantly looking for others in the group, turning around, and breathing more rapidly drained their oxygen in almost half the time! They spent most of their dive unsettled and anxious about what will happen next. Plus, they had to cut their dive short. This was my realization, that there is a perfect correlation between scuba diving and being mindfully present and in control of the breath.
Diving gave me immediate feedback as to the quality of my breath and the level of my mental chatter. Just like diving under the surface of the turbulent ocean to find still waters and peaceful presence, we must also create space and stillness in our minds to get to the depths of who we really are. When we are riding the waves of constant chaos and outside distractions, we will never receive the feedback we need to slow down, take a deep breath, and listen to our inner source of pure awareness. You will be sucking the air out of your lifeline in half the time with very little to show for it at the end of the day.
Our truest self and all of our gifts are found deep within us. It is up to us to filter through the noise and create space by inviting stillness. It is like the ocean, on the surface, there are waves and swells. Just below the surface are the currents and gentle sways of the water back and forth. Deep within the water is stillness, silence, and peacefulness. In the deep, there is a knowing that resides only in these waters. “Still waters run deep.”