I love swimming and I find it an enjoyable way of exercising! I can undoubtedly say that now although this wasn’t always the case when I was learning to swim. It has taken me quite a while to be able to say that I truly enjoy swimming.
Learning to swim by holding onto a pole
I grew up, as many did in the UK, learning how to swim while holding onto a long pole held by a swimming instructor who was not in the water with me, but standing on the side of the pool yelling. I would hold onto this pole for dear life gasping for breath, feeling terrified of letting go. Eventually when I did let go and somehow managed to stay afloat, the pole would follow me, giving me a little prod now and then. This made me feel even more terrified.
Then, as I was learning to swim, it was all about keeping my head above the water at all costs. I felt that if I went underwater, surely I would drown. My time in the pool was full of gasping through my mouth, swallowing and breathing in water, spluttering, not being able to see (no goggles offered at the time), feeling terrified of being splashed or pushed under – and a little bit of swimming!
I’m sure many people can relate to this – swimming for survival is the way many learn to swim. For me there was a severe lack of joy and a great deal of anxiety associated with learning to swim this way.
Later on as an adult I bought myself a pair of goggles and taught myself to swim breast stroke while putting my face partially under the water. This was progress but I was still full of fear of getting a mouthful of water and not being able to breathe.
Learning to swim – breathing through my nose
About two years ago I was introduced to a completely different approach to swimming by Simone Benhayon…
I was invited to breathe in and out through my nose, not my mouth. This initially created more panic in me as I couldn’t imagine ever being able to get enough air. The gasping was an old and ingrained habit! But slowly, slowly I taught myself to do this… initially by not swimming and simply getting used to being under water and breathing out through my nose. I began to find a beauty in this and marvelled at the quality of my breath under the water and the wonderful bubbles that I would create. This felt gorgeous, and for a while it was enough just to do this.
After a while, with the help of my goggles, I felt confident enough to go completely under the water and glide along while breathing out my amazing bubbles. No swimming involved… just gliding and stopping, gliding and stopping. I found a joy in this which felt totally different to any other time in the water. It started to feel like fun!
Over time I have taught myself to swim front-crawl (freestyle) while breathing through my nose. It is still a work in progress, but I am discovering how to remain connected to my breath (and my bubbles!) while swimming. I can still panic a bit, but what I have discovered is that if I take in water while breathing through my nose it does not go into my lungs, therefore I am not going to drown! This discovery has just been amazing, and I have become more and more confident in the water.
Staying with my breath and the bubbles, focussing on the quality of my movement and the sensation of the water (instead of focussing on the fear), has changed my experience of swimming completely. The feel of my body moving through the water can feel absolutely divine.
Growing confidence – in the water and in life
A few days ago I went for my swim, and without thinking I just began to swim. I pushed off into crawl, immersed myself in the water, breathed out my bubbles, enjoyed my body and the way I was moving in the water, and found that I was feeling joy while I was swimming. Even coming up for air was joyful! I cannot express how amazing this feels.
This ongoing experience is giving me growing confidence in my life too. The same principles apply when breathing my way through life. By enjoying the quality of my breath and my movements and staying with myself in every moment I feel more joyful and feel that I can embrace life more fully and without fear.
Breathing through my nose as I was re-learning to swim has enabled me to find joy through swimming; it has truly made a difference to how I feel about being in the water. It has also made a big difference to the quality of my life. What an incredible gift! Thank you Simone Benhayon.
By Rebecca Turner, Beauty Advisor, London, UK