During a recent wellbeing walk, I told a story about how I learnt the importance of breath in wellbeing. Now I love yoga which is very focussed on the breath but it was scuba diving which taught me everything I needed to know.
I’m fearful of scuba diving.
I’ve learnt to cross my legs at the ankles when deflating my BCD and making my way down to the ocean floor to start the dive. I have a strong instinct to survive and somewhere deep inside me, without logic or reason, every time I go under the sea – a part of me thinks I will die, so I kick really hard to keep me on the surface.
It may be the breathing under water element; it may be that I do not have as much control as I need; or it may even be that free diving is more to my liking – relying on my breath to survive rather than man made equipment. I know my history, I understand my pain but cannot be 100% sure, why.
What I do know, is that there is a whole different world down there and I want to see it. If I had the money or the time to devote myself long-term, I know I’d eventually get over it but maybe it is not to be in this life time for me. Who knows but even though I’m scared and even though many diver operators and divers don’t get it and some don’t even think I should be down there if fearful. I understand what it offers me and in turn, I like to offer that similar possibility on dry land when working with clients who are stressed, burnt out, have anxiety or are recovering from addiction. Meditation is a great way to practice calming our nerves but what if we can do that through a hobby or in movement. Does meditation need to be stationary or can we all find something which can be classed as our very own meditation. The collective whisper of a communal prayer in church – the sound of the breath on a regulator. A brisk walk along the shoreline in the winter time as the wind batters our features. Is it worth exploring what could possibly be our very own personal style of meditation.
When I scuba dive I have to consciously conserve my air because of my fear. If I don’t keep it to mind, I’m constantly supping on the regulator and reduce it dramatically, so much so that the dive ends very early. Not something I want to happen, otherwise what’s the point of going through all the rigmarole involved. So when I offer one to one walking therapy, or deliver a group wellbeing walk, one of the things I ask the people included, is to think about their breath as they walk – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Taking notice of the rhythm of the breath, as they tune in to the sounds and sights around them. It becomes a conscious form of meditation which, over time can become natural when arriving at a known walking spot. The body might automatically engage its breath as the body memory engages with the place.
With walking, I encourage those I’m with, to open up to what is around them, to tune in rather than tune out of the sounds. To acknowledge the colours of our world, those man made and of nature. To feel the pavement underneath the feet – connect with sand which trickles between the toes. Feel the salty spray of the sea and the chill of a morning breeze.
To think of it all like a new exploration, in the same way as scuba diving our underwater world. Explore, take notice, engage and enjoy. Learning to do that on a small scale, through something as simple as a 30 minute walk, three times a week can uplift a life if done correctly.
What do you do to help your wellbeing whilst walking and do you prefer a moving meditation?