Aquatic Meditation: How to Achieve Mindfulness in the Water02/01/2021 | Written by Nikos Kaskaras in Fitness & Nutrition Tips
Living in harmony and acquiring peace of mind are diachronic human aspirations. This is more evident in times of high insecurity, like the ones we currently live. There is no doubt that preserving a stable psychological condition is the basis upon which people grow and flourish. Maybe one of the less well-known methods for achieving that is practicing aquatic meditation for achieving mindfulness in the water. Maybe the terms sound a bit sophisticated but once you become familiar to their basic principles and philosophy, it can be a life-changing experience. Let's “swim” together through this ocean of wisdom.
How to meditate in water
Although meditation was always hard to define because of the varying techniques that were used, it is practiced since 1500 BC. The religion of Hinduism used it as an exercise of the spirit and religious practice. In later years the practice of meditation passed to other religions and schools of thought like Buddhism and Taoism. In current years it has become increasingly popular as feelings of anxiety and insecurity tend to prevail in most societies. Nowadays more and more people start discovering and practising meditation in water, an experience that can be life-changing. In general terms there are two ways to meditate in water: Meditate while swimming and meditate without moving in the water. Let us take a closer look at each of these ways.
Practicing meditation while swimming
This kind of meditation can be practiced in swimming pools or the sea. Swimming as an activity is one of the best exercises for relieving stress as it works all the parts of the body within a weightless environment, providing a unique feeling of relaxation and calmness. Meditation is about training your mind to focus on your thoughts and can produce a diverse range of benefits: Developing concentration, increasing awareness of your inner self and your social and physical environment and focusing on the present, are just some of them. (1)
To achieve the insightful view that meditation brings when swimming, you need to focus on the movements you make. Pay attention to your body motion and the extension of your arms and legs, feel the buoyancy factor that alters gravity and makes your body feel lighter and enjoy the wetness, sound and scent of water. (2) Of course, you need to be proficient in swimming before combining it with meditation but once you have managed it, you will be amazed by how well you could combine the two activities.
Practicing meditation without moving in the water
The other way to meditate in water is even more convenient, as you can do it without moving your body. This means that you can start practicing meditation even from the comfort of our bath. The familiar environment of your home combined with the relaxing nature of water can provide an excellent atmosphere for letting off all the negative thoughts and feelings. At the same time, it would be refreshing to concentrate on the soothing of the tired muscles and feel the process of relaxation that starts to emerge. Make sure that you will not be disturbed while practising meditation in your bath tube and focus on the slow relaxation that will begin after you enter the water. It would be beneficial to use aromatherapy bath products that will add scent to the whole experience and make it even more fulfilling.
Of course, you can practice meditation in the sea, where the experience can take a new dimension. There, you could also hear the sound of waves, feel the warming effects of the sun and coordinate your hearing with the sound of the air. It would be a very different feeling compared to the bath meditation process because you could feel the effects of nature that will surround you.
The great benefits of meditation
Meditation can be a decisive experience in life. It is not coincidental that people who start practicing it tend to repeat it as frequently as possible and that the numbers rise each year. A striking example has been documented in the USA, where adults' use of meditation tripled between 2012 and 2017 while at the same time the use of meditation by children in the USA increased from 0.6% to 5.4% (4). Meditation can help all of us to achieve a better understanding of ourselves and function in a more fulfilling and productive way in both personal and social terms. Furthermore, the medical community accepts the positive role that mindfulness practices can play in the treatment of depressed patients. (3) Meditation improves concentration, communication, energy levels and the immune system and provides better clarity and peace of mind.
How to meditate
Learning how to meditate can be a challenging process. The basic idea is to gain control of your breath, going in and out, and paying attention to it. The purpose is to remain in the present moment by paying attention to the breathing process and not letting your thoughts take you away from that task. It is not as easy as it sounds because the mind tends to wander and distract our attention span. It takes patience to reach the point where we will remain in the present moment and gain a sense of stability, feeling the present as it is without judgement. Even renowned meditation teachers found it hard not to let their thoughts wander in their first times of meditation (5), so you don't need to be discouraged when that happens to you too. Through time though and as you will improve the process, you will discover how much helpful and insightful will be. You could start practicing the basic principles of meditation by yourself or by referring to a teacher who could guide you through your first steps.
The benefits of water meditation
Meditating in water can provide even greater benefits because of its healing effects. Being near, in or underwater is greatly beneficial in both physical and spiritual terms. The overall sense of well-being is increased, stress and anxiety are reduced and heart and breathing rates become lower allowing safer and better workouts. (6) Additionally, a great number of guided meditation use images of water and sounds of waterfalls, brooks and ocean waves for helping the binaural rhythms of the body. (7) The combination of image, sound and feel activate the senses that are usually inactive in our bodies and help to discover the hidden potential that lies within us. Acknowledging and learning to use that potential can be a crucial step towards our self-consciousness and self-realisation.
We live in times of high tension and insecurity. The whole world is changing rapidly and no one can stay unaffected. It is not accidental that psychological problems among people tend to increase on a global scale nor that actions of unprecedented violence and vulgarity tend to become common. Finding the right ways to cope may not be a luxury but a necessity. The element of water and the knowledge of meditating in it could make us better individuals and contribute to the formation of healthier societies.