Was scared of drowning
So he never would swim Or get into a boat
Or take a bath
Or cross a moat.
He just sat day and night With his door locked tight And the windows nailed down, Shaking with fear
That a wave might appear, And cried so many tears That they filled up the room And he drowned. - Silverstein
Several years ago, my BFM, (best friend man, a.k.a. husband, a.k.a Bradness, you may know him as Brad,) wanted to learn to scuba dive and invited me to join him. Though the idea of swimming with colorful fish of all shapes and sizes in exotic locations was exhilarating…my brain was screaming, “be afraid!” I love the ocean, but the idea of being underwater, so far from the open air completely creeped me out, and made me feel panicked. I mean, I have no gills. What if I operate the equipment wrong? It seemed like a U.E at 30 feet of depth could be problematic. Actually I had a list of “what ifs,” swirling in my head and it felt safer to hold on to those than to try scuba.
Then I accumulated a few more years, (read, “neared 50,”) and it became increasingly apparent that life is too short to stay on the sidelines. Craving adventure, I signed the whole family up for a sample “try-scuba” class in a safe nearby pool where the clear water wasn’t too deep to manage. I was surprised, at how much I loved it. The ability to submerge and explore for extended periods of time, was amazing. The environment underwater was more calming than terrifying. It might have helped at the onset that I didn’t want to appear to be at all afraid in front of my 12 year old daughter. I would not give her a reason to fear. It also didn’t hurt that the instructors were really clear and careful with us newby’s.
Then there were two
Four of the six of us went on to complete our pool dives and written test, but just me and the BFM decided to certify. I still had some fears hanging around as we approached the Indiana quarry to take our final two days of test dives in open water. The cold, murky October quarry was not ideal, and during the first dive, I panicked, shooting up to the surface to get my bearings. Two mistakes, well three if you count swallowing all that pond water. First, shooting up to the surface could’ve been a big deal, had I been any deeper down. Second, any diver will tell you, panicking is the worst thing to do if you want to stay safe. Panic is where mistakes happen. Thankfully, our instructor was skilled at dealing with new divers, and he talked me through it. He didn’t try to tell me not to panic, or how to feel at all. He asked me in a gentle non-patronizing voice, “What’s going on?” As I told him what I was thinking, he simply reminded me how to seal my mask, how to breathe… It was super weird as a yoga teacher, who cues breath all the time, to need to be told how to breathe. His gentleness worked wonders and I went on to pass all the tests without much difficultly, or much more ingested pond water.
A couple of months passed before we could get to the ocean in Manzanillo MX, and now there were all kinds of animals to expect to emerge out of the depths. Sharks, eels, leviathans. Why was no one else concerned about these things? Once again our dive master was reassuring, letting me know what sea life we might encounter and what we were likely to not see, like sharks and leviathans. It seemed the current was a bigger deal than the wildlife and that is why we had a local expert with us to navigate the rough waters. After questioning my fears, once again, I had to make the decision that I was not going to let them stop me. The water was cold and visibility wasn’t great, on that first dive, but I did it. Ocean dive one in the books! With each subsequent dive we have logged, I become a little more confident. Instead of stuffing my fears, I look them in the eye, not to stare them down, but to address them with kind curiosity.
Conversation with fear
Has it ever helped you to compassionately look fear in the eyes and ask, "Why are you here?" I help coaching clients do this all the time. Fear usually has a story to tell and once you can see the truth, the fear morphs into something else altogether. Like an invitation to clarity, or even adventure. By kindly addressing my anxiety around scuba diving I became calmer, more confident. I realized the ocean wants to hold me not swallow me. While I was still shoving the fear down I only became more scared of living the adventure of breathing underwater alongside beautiful fish and turtles and even eels.
If you would like a compassionate guide to look at your fears with you and show you that it is possible to greet them with kindness, helping you to reconnect mind body and spirit, click here for a free 20 minute coaching session.
So MANY Special Yoga-tunities:
RETREAT September 21st Soul unleashed yoga retreat, self care through mindfulness and yoga practices, a delicious catered lunch and an opportunity to reset for the new season of fall. Use coupon code BLISS to get in on early bird pricing here:
YOGA WITH BABY GOATS I "kid" you not, so much cuteness combined with a sweet stretch at our own neighborhood Broad Ripple Farmer's Market...how can you say no? A portion of the proceeds goes to support the Broad Ripple Farmers Market 9:00 a.m. September 14th.
MINDFUL YOGA AND MEDITATION coming Wednesdays at 3:20 IHM gathering space, starting in September, stay tuned.
Want to increase gratitude in the world?
Be a guest on my podcast, “Gratitude Sandwich.” If you are not sure what you are grateful for that could make for a meaningful story, let's talk, I bet I can help you find it!
If you are feeling called to help share your story and increase gratitude and healing in the world, click here to schedule.
Mindfulness for businesses and schools:
Did you know, I offer a mindfulness experience called Modern Day Mindfulness for local businesses and organizations? I am happy to say, I am adding Mindful School programming starting in August! This comprehensive program encompasses teachers, parents and students to offer life long tools that reduce anxiety, depression and suicide. If you would like to bring the program to your office or school let’s talk.