How mindful swimming can help with coping waiting and loss02/09/2021 | Written by Nikos Kaskaras in Fitness & Nutrition Tips
We live in challenging times beyond any doubt. Although humanity progressed technologically throughout the centuries assuring that the Western world has reached an unprecedented standard of living, the challenges and difficulties that we face today are still tremendous. Especially during the current pandemic period, there are new obstacles to overcome. Issues like waiting for the recovery of both professional and social life and, worse of all, coping with the loss of loved ones are hard to deal with. Mindful swimming can, nevertheless, be greatly helpful for dealing with any hard issue that may arise.
Why is mindfulness important
We have already discussed the healing qualities of swimming and how it can improve mental health. Though mindfulness is related to the above concepts it's also a quality containing its own properties. It implies that our minds are fully attentive to the events taking place before us while observing without judgement our thoughts. It's important to realise that mindfulness is nοt an acquired human quality, one that is alien to our nature. On the contrary, it's rather innate. The problem is that people worldwide tended to neglect mindfulness. They just don't take the time and effort to introspect, to gain a better insight and understanding of their thoughts and actions. The pragmatic approach and the extremely busy daily routine of the majority of society made such issues look like a luxury, a useless activity that “was not making money”, thus it was useless. The rise of pandemic though seems to change such views. People spend more time alone, insecurity about the future rises and mental fatigue is becoming a frequent phenomenon. Practising mindfulness today looks more like a necessity rather than a luxury.
How to practice mindful swimming
First of all, we shall point out that mindful swimming refers to competent swimmers. It's obvious that people who are on the learning process of how to float on water or lack confidence of entering the pool without any assistance, can't focus on their inner thoughts when they enter an aquatic environment. Mindfulness in swimming can begin from the moment you take the first step in the water. Feel the effect of the changing temperature in your body and notice if the hair on your arms rises. Then as you start moving your body in water, take a moment to feel the contract of your muscles: Up from the neck, lower to the stomach and down to your feet your body will constantly react to the effect of water on it. It is a splendid feeling that invokes body senses and causes a sense of euphoria. Then, let your body feel the force of buoyancy and the lightness it causes. Move your body left and right while on standing position and concentrate on the joyful sense you will feel. When swimming, focus on breathing properly and realise every single inhalation and exhalation. Taking control of your breathing is a vital aspect of mindfulness, so you should concentrate on this. Consciously sensing the joy that water brings to the whole body is an excellent first step of achieving mindfulness when swimming.
Mindful swimming is good for your brain
Mindfulness practices are more usual outside of aquatic environments. Yoga is a classic example. The element of water however is changing the whole experience. Even for individuals who are practising mindfulness techniques frequently, mindful swimming could add another dimension in their lifestyle and perception. Swimming is anyway very positive for your brain function as it improves blood flow and enhances cognitive skills as well as the mood. Physical and mental health are strongly correlated, so brain boost comes as a natural consequence of mindful swimming. Every day our brains are dealing with obligations reaching a point where they just reflect on outside stimulations. It's like an automated process: The more tasks the brain faces, the more it becomes occupied with external obligations leading to high-stress levels. By allowing ourselves to get a break out of this and letting our brain to function naturally within an environment that is isolated from outside abstractions, we help it repair itself and switch on a healthy mode. After some sessions of mindful swimming, you would be able to see by yourself how much better you would function. Chances are that you could solve any kind of problems more quickly and more efficiently.
The role of the brain in dealing with crisis
Coping with loss and insecurity is not easy. It takes time and effort to overcome such issues. It's a fundamental need though, to take the next step and carry on living. Knowledge is power and realising the significant role of the brain is the only way out. The mental approach we take in such challenging cases can be either our salvation or our damnation. Healing our traumas and facing our fear for the future is impossible without a proper understanding of our relevant attitudes. Humans are not robots and there are numerous weak links within their inner selves. Negative thoughts, depressive mood, aggressive feelings are all normal reactions that come unintentionally in difficult conditions. It would be utopic trying to diminish such feelings. What we can do, nonetheless, is understand and accept all those states of mind.
It's unhealthy, if not impossible, to suppress what comes in our minds. On the other hand, it's perfectly possible to face our reflection on outside challenges without judgement. To achieve that, we need our minds to be passive, like a sponge that takes drops of water. After revealing and objectively monitoring our thoughts we will be able to understand the pattern of our thinking and accept it. Then we could get out of our systems all our thoughts and emotions that prevent us from escaping the tunnel of stagnation. The final step would be to concentrate on our constructive thoughts that help self-improving. That's why practices like mindful swimming can be the path to self-realisation and salvation.