Swimming is healthy for the body and restorative for the mind.
Almost every day I swim in the pool- this is my way of meditating. The Mount Royal University swimming lanes are the closest place for me to access workout facilities. It is the only place where it is possible where I can calm restless thoughts for a short time. The tranquillity is not achieved right away; it is somewhat a long and difficult process.
Referencing, Japanese bestseller Haruki Murakami and his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, my experience can be called What I Do Not Think About While Swimming In The Pool.
As an international student facing language and cultural boarders daily. I get bombarded with assignments and social obligations everyday. Not even mentioning the fact that I miss my loved ones everyday andwondering what they are up to today.
I’m walking on the borderline of anxiety and nearly tipping into a pit of mental depression. But where can I find a cleanser to exfoliate my nerves? The ultimate, stripped-down moving meditation is swimming. In the swimming pool I can build muscle strength,maintain a healthy weight, keep a vigorous heart and relax while doing sports.
The inability to see almost anything except the line at the bottom of the pool, and hear nothing but the rush of water, creates an insulating, cocooning effect.
According to a British Yoga Sport Science instructor: “This sensation of flow comes from both the literal fluidity of the water and from the natural gliding action of swimming.” There is no jolting or jarring, but a steady, smooth rhythm. Griffith University conducted a study stating that children and adults who swim demonstrate more advanced cognitive and physical abilities: “The connection to education, to improved learning, is extremely exciting and significant.”
I go to the pool for two hours and usually pick a time when there are a fairly small number of visitors. Only a few people pace the lanes up and down, some of them rest on the edge of the pool with their legs dangling down in the water, chattering with each other, and maybe a lifeguard or two wandering around. The sounds of their talking turn jaunty and intermittent in the echoing cold white-tiled room; loud, but during the dive muffled.
I kick off my flip-flops, check my goggles for humid drops, wipe them, and attach them to the cap and dive.
I swim my first lap, my second lap, and I rest. I convince myself that the glasses sit tight and no water can flow through. My main goal is to erase the thoughts I have been chewing on all day.
First of all, these that intertwined with me while flipping through my friends list this morning. Despite the filters that restrict what and from whom I see information on my feed, absconding words and pictures still manage to seep into mind, things I do not want to see and hear.
And now, I’m bathing, cleansing myself, forcing unwelcome thoughts to wash away. I imagine how an eraser glides across my memories, dissipating all the letters and names I do not want to remember: The Maidan Plaza and the Ukrainian crisis, social platforms such as Dude Perfect, and a entertainment group Facebook page.
Photo by Nicole Schafei.
The fifth and sixth lap, a man distracts me, who flops into the pool and immediately starts crawling. There goes a wave. I can’t help but notice his funny goggles that reflect an image of a wide-jawed shark on both eyes, but crucially swift dismiss this thought too.
The ninth track and at 6 pm I’m meeting with my mentor Jaclyn concerning my vetted CV and cover letter. What if she will offer to re-write it completely from scratch and in her own way? Should I contradict her if this will happen? She will probably play out the “older and wiser” card. Or should I come up with my own alterations and dispense the cards on the table? Ruthlessly the eraser eliminates Jaclyn. All-unsuspecting Jaclyn frantically clings to something in my head and tries to stay deliberate.
Fifteenth lap. Underwater I utter the mantra “Om”. The sound is stretching through a vacuum. Junk continues to attack my consciousness. I wish here were a sauna like back in Germany, which one would I choose…? Maybe the “Turkish” or the “Finnish” one? I try to focus on the even number of grey tiles.
This is my 20th track. Why does Dasha take so long to respond to my message? I did not hurt her, did I? Didn’t come off as brisk or forward? Maybe I said something too much then? No, I should not let virtual Dasha repeat my words in my memories. So I erase this scene as well…
This is my 25th! Ten tracks left. I stop controlling my swimming posture, and the rhythmic breathing. All techniques happen simultaneously and mechanically now. And finally, here it is: a condition where there is no thought. I close my eyes.
I am in warm water. In my mother’s womb. In the whole two hours of training, I attain these three desirable minutes of emptiness in a serene void. I am able to switch off the brain, a lifelong ally and, at the same time, an ever-restless spammer. When I open my eyes again and I fixate them on the finish line, I feel like the baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover – a new born, flawless, and smiling.
In my body I feel a lightness and extraordinary burst of energy as I step out of the pool. The state of euphoria does remains even after I come out of the shower.
I wipe myself, take my clothes from the top locker shelf and lighten up my smartphone: six notifications from Facebook and three missed calls.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Leon Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thumbnail courtesy of Atos Olympic Games/ Flickr. Under Creative Common Lisence.