Like plenty of people out there, my life can be incredibly chaotic at times and the only place I want to be is under the water. It’s the one place I know I can be alone with my thoughts and my emotions, free from distractions. There are many articles out there (science based and otherwise) that have shown that meditation has significant impact on a person state of mind and body. Deepak Chopra has an incredible guided meditation series called “The Secret of Healing: Meditations for Transformation and Higher Consciousness”, (let me tell you it’s pretty deep), which I have used since 2014 and has helped me immensely through my dystonia and other aspects of my life. Meditation isn’t always sit down in silence and Om chanting, in fact, it’s just one of many ways to mediate. Swimming for me is a form of movement meditation, simply focusing my mind on the activity that I am performing at the moment and not thinking about anything else. It helps me connect my mind, my emotions and my body.
You see, dystonia isn’t like anything else I’ve ever experienced. Even on good days, where my mood is elevated my spasms can still be triggered leaving me frustrated. It’s a reminder to rest. It’s a reminder that I’m not invincible. It’s a reminder that I do have limitations. When I am in the water away from practice, it’s easy to get carried away in the momentum of my adrenaline or even in the energy of frustration. I can’t just dive in and “giv’er” and let it out. I can’t swim hard and fast for an extended period of time or I will trigger a spasm in my face and my neck, leading me to miss out on the rest of the swim time and potentially land me in a lot of fatigue and pain throughout the day.
Swimming helps me focus on swimming. I become aware of how my body feels, how I am moving in the water and how I am breathing, so that I am able to have minimal impacts of the spasm, tension and negative emotions. I loose myself as I focus on each aspect of the swim. The body doesn’t create the mind, the mind creates the body. How I feel mentally has a huge impact on how my body performs in and out of the water. If I am having a particularly rough day, or my body is sore, and my muscles are spasmed, I know that I have to take my time getting in, and alter my swim to compensate (even if that means only doing 50m kick that day or stopping after every 25m). It forces me to evaluate my current state physically, emotionally and mentally. There are days and there will be days that I can’t do one lap – and that’s ok, the important thing for me is that I move and that I tried.
The next time you think that mediation isn’t for you, remember that there are many other forms of meditation and that mediation is simply a state in which your mind and body are connected in the present moment. Whether it be by silently sitting in a room, a mindful walk in the forest, running, or even cooking with some good music, you have the power to be present in that activity to the fullest extent and reap the all benefits like elevating your mood, relieving mental stress, and in my case alleviating spasms.
Sumbul Zafar, R.H.N.