Mindfulness is the practice of being fully engaged in the present moment, but too often this sounds impossible to achieve. The good news is you don’t need to be a monk to achieve it: all you need to do is swim.
To achieve proper mindfulness – the kind that deeply relaxes and leaves you feeling energised, physically and mentally – it is necessary to push distractions to the side. For some of us, the day-to-day hustle makes this difficult. But what can separate you from distraction any potential sources of stress better than swimming?
Swimming, whether in a pool or ocean, forces you to put your phone down and focus.
Focus on staying afloat. On keeping your stroke. Making that next lap. The feel of water across your body as you cut through it. Breathing.
You’ve just discovered swimming meditation.
What Is Swimming Meditation?
Swimming meditation is exactly what it sounds like: achieving a state of mindfulness through swimming. You might be asking yourself exactly how swimming can be considered meditation – doesn’t meditation mean sitting still?
In practice, the principles of meditation and swimming are the same:
- Steady breathing.
- Remaining clear of distraction.
- Clearing your mind of thoughts.
- Uninterrupted focus.
Meditators focus on their breath as it moves through their body to achieve a state of mindfulness. Swimmers do the same with their stroke and each time they come up for air. Swimmers also reach meditation through repetition, repetition, repetition.
Swimming has widely been regarded as physically healthy for centuries; swimming meditation is the practice of making it healthy for your mind.
Something that all swimmers achieve subconsciously, whether you know it or not.
How To Enter Your Meditative State
Entering your meditative state is so deceptively simple, you’d be forgiven if you hadn’t realised you’d done it before. Follow these steps to enter a state of meditation while you swim and achieve deeper mindfulness:
- Your meditation begins even before you dip into the water. Take careful note to reflect on your upcoming swim as you make your way to the water. This journey could be as small as the walk from your living room to the pool, or as long as the drive to a distant beach.
- Think about the steps that have led you to take a swim today. Are you feeling stressed? Anxious? Make time to understand what is affecting you and why; but don’t dwell on the negativity – leave that for thoughts of swimming.
- Allow yourself a moment to teeter on the edge, as it were. Before you dip into the water, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Our natural instinct upon entering water is to lose the rhythm of our breath. Allow yourself some time to hone in on your breath and appreciate the mindfulness practice you are about to indulge in.
- Immerse yourself in the water. Keep your breathing steady and your focus steady. Consider submerging your entire body and enjoying the silence and peacefulness that being surrounded by water brings.
- Get swimming, at your own pace. Whether it’s 5 laps or 20, or even just swimming casually, keep your mind focused on your breathing and your stroke. Feel the air expand your lungs and the rhythm of your body as you glide through the water – try to time the two together. Soon enough, your mind should forget everything else and be entirely present in the moment. Just you and the water.
The last step is of course to enjoy the benefits that swimming meditation brings.
How Swimming Meditation Can Improve Your Health
The afterglow you will feel from participating in swimming meditation is immense. Swimming, in general, will improve blood circulation throughout your body, allowing endorphins to surge your nervous system.
Basically, you will feel healthier and happier almost as soon as you step out of the pool.
The deep mindfulness you achieved through swimming will have significantly reduced any stress or anxiety you have been feeling. Stress and anxiety are like weeds: starve them of attention, and they will gradually die off.
As your mindfulness slowly starts to recede once your meditation is finished, try to focus on these positive emotions. Let the feelings of positivity wash over you one last time and hold onto them as you leave the water.
The most important thing to remember before you leave is this: whenever your next anxiety attack hits, or life becomes too overwhelming, know that mindfulness, peace and positivity are only a swim away. This knowledge alone can do wonders for reassuring you.