Transforming a Swim with Mindfulness

I’ve been residing on the beautiful island of Koh Chang for the past four months. It’s an island on the southern end  of thailand and only 30 minutes away from the mainland by ferry. Close to the Cambodian border. Working as a resident Therapist, at a uniquely interesting and wonderful rehab situated in the national park of the island. Its called DARA…

Koh Chang

 

Enjoying the most of the moments which arose on my weekends off,  I would pick myself up and go via one of the local taxi’s to a beach resort on the island. White Sands (where the photo above was taken  at Kacha Resort) approximately 20 minutes away from where I worked, was probably the most touristy of them all. But I think this is why I loved it. It provided me with something completely different to where I was situated for work. In the heart of a jungle.

Kacha was right on the beach and I could always find a little spot to lay in the beautiful blue and allow the sun to warm my face and body. It was the place I would unpick any anxieties or concerns I was having – working away from my family and within a niche field of therapy.

On my return to the UK I was initially debilitated by jet lag. A topic I will talk about further in another post!

Once up and moving again – the desire was upon me to enter the water. Alas, being none to happy at the thought of diving into the cool waters of the Thames Estuary in December. I decided to visit a local leisure centre for a sunrise  swim around 7:10 in the morning. Imagine my surprise when I walked in to a very busy pool. Months before, it had been much quieter at this time of day. Initially I was daunted but then, decided maybe it was just me with a little bit of culture shock thrown in. The vibe of the place felt driven. There was a strange feeling coming from the busyness of the pool. My immediate thought was to turn around and run. I didn’t. I decided instead to utilise my Therapist training and deliver a dose of mindfulness to myself. Something which I had been using in my work with the Clients of the facility to help them to sustain themselves for short periods of time – rather than turn to a cigarette instead.

I’d like to say I dove in – I didn’t. Just gently slid myself down into the cool water.

I felt nervous to use the crawl stroke I had been perfecting during my early morning swims at DARA – before I began my working day. With so many others around. There wasn’t time or space for me to work on it privately and I didn’t want to get caught up in the frenetic energy of the place – so I decided that mindfulness was the way forward.

At the first stroke, I pushed my hands through the water. Becoming aware of the resistance in the undulating swells as I pulled my hands back to either side of my body.

Sliding my face beneath the surface, I smelt the chlorine and blew bubbles of air out through my mouth. Listening to the sounds they made as I concentrated on each stroke.

I became aware of the frog leg kick I was attempting to do as my arms pulled. Only my left leg seemed to do it right. The other one seemed more intent on doing its own thing. My mind wandered. ‘Should I have a lesson to correct it. I wonder how much it really matters. I’m here for my pleasure, not to win races.’ My face submerged into the blue once again as I reached the end. In my head I tumbled over like the professional swimmers. In reality I touched the side and turned myself for the next length, feeling my body warm up. My mind no longer caring about the frenetic energy of frantic minds as they sped to do their lengths. I relaxed. Looked up at the colourful  auras surrounding the lights now caused by my chlorinated eyes and breathed deeply. I was mindfully swimming my way around the early start of the morning.

It felt good. I felt relaxed. Not as relaxed as I had been under hot, blue, asian skies. But enough for me to enjoy the morning.

I reminded myself to use the techniques which I had been teaching the clients, as I began to observe how I felt and what was happening within, whilst movement happened around me. I allowed myself, without judgement, to experience what was happening, in its entirety. By the time, I left the pool and entered the sauna I was suitably relaxed and ready to allow the heat from the room seep into my cooling, english bones.

Mindfulness is such a useful tool…

 

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