He began splashing around; kicking hard and strong. He quickly caught up with my pace and past me. All of a sudden I noticed my legs moving quicker, my arms pulling harder. My peaceful every-third-breath turned into a rapid fire intake of air. I felt myself both grimace and half smile as I began to catch up to the guy next door. Then I stopped, and sucked in a bunch of water as I caught myself laughing at myself underwater.
Competition is healthy and I have learned much in my day from my competitive edge. But I was amazed at how fast a behavior that I had received so much positive reinforcement from could sneak up on me so quickly. Without even consciously thinking about it, there I was, positioned back into a state of mind that needed me to be better, swim harder, go faster and beat the stranger enjoying his daily swim next to me.
I stood up in the pool and took a falling out breath - a deep breath in through my nose and exhaled out of my mouth. I felt my shoulders soften and body grow less tense. “Alright,” I thought to myself, “back to my peaceful swim where it’s just me and the water.” Well, at least it lasted for a few seconds.
Because of the heat I had worked up in my unconscious effort to be better then the man swimming next to me, I had worked up a bit of a sweat (yes, this is possible in a pool!). As I began to swim in the cool water again, my goggles began to fog up. “Seriously?” I said to myself. Gone was the peaceful quiet time I had spent in the first few minutes of my swim. Enter in frustration and annoyance. I found myself stopping every couple of minutes to defog my goggles.
Finally, some small voice whispered inside of me - “What’s happening now?”
“What’s happening now is I can’t get my friggin’ goggles to stay clear so I can see where I am going!”
That soft gentle voice chuckled at me. Chuckled. That just annoyed me more, so I pushed myself harder, my goggles got foggier and my frustration grew. Again that voice whispered, “Tell me more…”
“Fine!” I shouted at myself, “I’ll tell you more - I can’t see where I am going and it’s making me angry.” Then I stopped and all got quiet as I said those words to myself again, “I can’t see where I am going and it’s making me angry.” Hummm….
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy helped to train me to cultivate a state of mind that is curious, open-ended, explores the metaphorical and listens to the deeper meaning of what is being said. When I heard myself say that I was getting angry because I couldn’t see where I was going, I realized that I wasn’t actually upset with the goggles fogging up. Yes, it was annoying, but my reaction to it was offering me a chance to see a larger picture.
If I can get that angry at not being able to see where I am going...in a pool...divided up by swimming lanes….with no where to stray…, then how scared and angry must I be in life when I can’t see where I am headed? How annoyed and frustrated must I get when I am uncertain about which direction to take in life? This was an ah-ha moment for me. I realized that I was safe in that pool. Despite my childhood fear of great white sharks swimming up from the deep end of the pool, I couldn’t have been in a more safe environment for my sight to be momentarily foggy.
So, I began to swim slower. I stopped defogging my goggles and instead headed into the foggy future of my next stroke. I chose to focus on the bottom of the pool beneath me (the present moment) - not trying to see ahead (future outcome). I trusted that I was safe and able to follow an internal barometer that would let me know when to slow down because the wall was approaching. I let myself experience the discomfort of annoyance and frustration. And what I found underneath them, was fear. And in that moment, as I envisioned a small scared girl uncertain about what her future held, my annoyance and frustration and fear slipped away. I was left with compassion and empathy for that little girl. And I knew I could help her heal the fear the past had instilled in her by letting her stay with this edge - this uncomfortable moment of re learning to trust that she is safe.
I was reminded of how I support my clients in a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session. It was not unlike this - except we are usually on a yoga mat and not underwater. I get to witness clients approach strong emotions as their bodies are placed in postures that are new, different or slightly uncomfortable. I have the honor of providing the safety that the swimming lanes provided me. And I get to watch as these clients transform what no longer serves them into something that supports them.
What would you be able to see more clearly if you were supported with compassion and empathy while looking? What hidden messages might your body have to share with you? As scary as it might sometimes be to really listen to yourself, what beauty or healing might come from going into the fog? What would it be like to listen to what Dori from Finding Nemo so innocently and profoundly said, “Just keep swimming…”
For more information about Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy visit the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy website or for information on receiving a session call Jennifer today - 352-278-2308.