This Master of love and life one month challenge is about learning the Sport of Freediving. In this post you will get to know why I chose a Freediving challenge, why it is an incredible but often misunderstood sport, how it faces my other side, what I learned during this one month, why it covers one innate superpower we all possess but forgot about and how freediving will improve your whole life as a skill for life.
For those of you who don’t know. Freediving is the most extreme or rawest form of diving. You basically dispense any technical equipment and try to go down as deep as you can with just a single breath. It relies entirely on your ability to hold your breath rather than on the use of a breathing apparatus such as scuba gear. So why did I chose to learn Freediving to face my other side?
It’s not that I am a huge fan of diving. I actually have zero experience. And Its quite the opposite. It is something I am scared of. When I thought about things I still fear It was a great feeling to realize that there’s not too much left. But loosing my breath and the fear of drowning is definitely one which is still around. As a child there was an incident where I was pushed under water and although I can’t remember the exact situation anymore, it traumatized me in some way. Just the thought to be in the middle of the open ocean and diving down only with the help of my breath into the cold & dark unknown makes me freak out. But thats what the Master of love and life is all about. It’s about facing these fears & insecurities to free myself.
So I listened to my intuition and something drew me to Hawaii. Guided by my intuition I found a very skilled teacher in Maui. I enrolled in a 3 day beginner course with him and then continued to train the rest of the 3 weeks on my own. In these 3 weeks I overcame my fear, I increased my static breath hold from 45 seconds to 3 minutes and 30 seconds and dove to 40 feet on my 3rd day. I would have dived even deeper, my breath hold ability made me able to do so, but on my last big day the conditions weren’t in place. However If you want to get to know what my training during this month looked like and how you can achieve even more than I did, check out this post.
Suitability for HSP’s:
This one month challenge was tough. It was probably the hardest and most unpleasant training I’ve ever had. It challenged me both physically and mentally and I faced my comfort zone many times. But I believe it is exactly at this edge of your comfort zone where you truly learn and grow the most. For HSP’s I can say that the misconception of the Sport attracts a lot of extreme sport, thrill seeking activists, rather non HSP’s. However I believe the real nature of Freediving is very suitable and a beautiful sport for HSP’s but read for yourself.
Here are my Top 6 learnings:
1 – Freediving is not that evil, extreme, suicide sport!
First of all it changed the misconception I had, and a lot of people still have, towards this Sport. You always hear these things: “Freediving is insane, people just eventually try to kill themselves”. “It’s so extreme!” “Humans are not made for these depths.”
After this challenge I have to say, Yes it counts as an extreme sport, but I don’t feel the term extreme sport works very well here. I believe it’s a miss fit. When you think about extreme sports. You always think about maximum adrenaline and pump and that this is basically the thrill of pursuing an extreme sport, but freediving is different. The more relaxed you are, the better is your performance in the water.
Freediving is not that evil, suicide sport! I believe if you take the necessary precautions and listen to your body it’s actually not more dangerous than other Sports. It only gets extreme when people are competing for records and go deeper and deeper but then virtually almost any sport can become dangerous.
I believe Its more the most natural and intuitive form to dive. It’s basically something you can do with your body only. Your body and your mind dictate your performance and not some technical Equipment. Yes you usually use a mask/googles and fins, a wetsuit and maybe a weight belt to fine tune your performance. But you could also do it without. You’re not dependent on it. Let’s take Scuba diving in comparison. You could eat at Mc Donald’s every day and live a very unhealthy lifestyle and still make it comfortably to maybe 200ft, But if things go wrong down there, good luck. Freediving is different. Everything you achieve is based on your bodies and your minds ability, so for me this sport is unlike any other a battle against yourself. A way to get to know your body and yourself. It can give you so much for your life but see for yourself:
2 – It makes You learn an amazing Skill for Life
What happens in our life when we are stressed? Or when we are in a bad situation in which we would normally panic? Adrenaline rushes through our body, our heartbeat increases, our breathing becomes very shallow, we get agitated and panic even more. In the English language we even use expressions like, “take a deep breath” in situations like these. Because we know how calming this is.
And thats what Free diving is all about: To take a lot of air into the lungs and to face panic in the form that you don’t allow yourself to breath when you want to. And we all know from experience how strong that sensation of panic can be, when we can’t breath. Technically, We all know that it is almost always a better approach not to panic, and to stay calm but we also all know how hard this is. We all admire these people who can always remain calm. Or people who even turn into heroes in emergency situations and just act whereas everyone else is so paralyzed and in panic or runs away.
In freediving panicking is your worst enemy too. Not only do you use a lot more vital oxygen while panicking but also are you way more likely to do something stupid and even face the risk of dying because of that. So what you train in Free diving is to face your panic, to observe it, to pull through it and to act from a place of calmness and peace in which state you always make the best decisions.
Isn’t that an amazing skill for life? You basically learn to not freak out so easily and to remain calm in situations where you would usually panic. This is a vital skill in our fast paced rational world. And In fact, a study in 2013 found that free divers had reduced levels of stress and anxiety when compared to non-athletes.
3 – It makes you fly to the last places on earth that are still untouched
Freediving allows you to see one of the last places on earth that are still untouched and authentic – The ocean. And it is also the most intimate way to connect with sea life, because unlike Scuba diving, freediving is completely silent. You don’t scare off marine animals with a noisy scuba breathing apparatus which allows you to interact with wildlife in a very close way. Moreover at around 10 to 20 meters, buoyancy reverses. In freediving this is called the “doorway to the deep”. Instead of floating up you are pulled down. It feels like gravity is changing. From this point on you can basically slide down to lets say 100m without moving one inch. You are sliding down to the bottom and don’t need to move at all. It’s a very magical place of freedom and its probably the closest feeling to flying.
4 – It unveils an innate superpower we all possess but forgot about
At one point in evolution we have been creatures of the sea. And we’re still more similar to them than you might think. New Borns can comfortably hold their breath underwater for more than 40 seconds and they instinctively start breast stroking. But they lose this ability when they are taught how to walk.
Moreover Our blood contains almost exact the same pH and a 98% similar chemical composition as sea water. But what stunned me the most is that all humans still posses an innate Superpower. The mammalian dive reflex (MDR) which we share with other marine mammals.
As soon as we start diving and have contact with water, something amazing happens. Our heart rate instantly drops by up to 25%, blood flows away from our extremities to our core to feed the most important organs, which all makes it about 10-15% easier to hold our breath and to dive compared to on land. A century ago scientists predicted that water pressure made it impossible to dive deeper than 50 meters. The equivalent pressure on land would crush us. But not in the ocean.
Back then the scientists didn’t know that at deeper depths another powerful adaptation of the Mammalian dive reflex kicks in. At these depths of 50 to 60 meters freedivers experience additional physical reactions, including Blood shift and Spleen effect. Although their lungs are compressed to the size of oranges these effects allow them to still function. What I find most incredible about that is that I always thought that going as deep as 50 or 60 meters for humans is really crazy. But that second adaptation of the Mammalian Dive reflex at these depths clearly shows that it’s actually not crazy to go that deep. And that Instead, it is our nature and superpower to do so.
5 – It makes us more healthy
During great depths professional Freedivers had documented Heart rates of as low as 6 BPM. Can you imagine 6 BPM… That’s lower than in a coma and yet their consciousness still functioned. Imagine how calm and relaxed your body must be for 6 BPM. Obviously Freedivers also have slower heart rates in general. You don’t have to be super smart to realize that a less stressed heart translates into a healthier heart and therefore longer life. If you had to pick a car, you would always favor a car with less kilometers on it, when the other conditions are the same, wouldn’t you? Freediving helps you to be that car. Most people breathe only very shallow. Freediving makes you breathe deeply and use your breath better. The result is a reduced heart rate and more vitality for your whole life.
6 – It connects us with our Spirit
And there is even more to freediving. I believe nothing defines life as much as our breath. Our breath is what keeps us alive and what all living beings have in common. I believe it’s the doorway to our other side. In meditation we focus our attention fully on our breath and can reach incredible states with that. In Yoga breath is seen as the Energy of life and a vital Element for releasing and relaxation. Our language shows the significance of breath with sayings like: “take a deep breath”, “just relax and catch your breath”, “save your breath” etc. So Breath stands for life itself. It ties the conscious and subconscious mind together and your focal point away from the outside world into your inner self.
After this one month I came to realize: Freediving is way more than a sport. It’s a journey between two breaths. It’s a technique to cross your mind. It’s a graceful escape. An escape from gravity, sound, light, time and our rational side to go into yourself. You find light even in the darkest part of yourself…you hold on to that light till your back up again – in between that and this is Peace and this is facing your other side in its purest form.
Have you ever freedived? Would you like to? Go for it, its amazing.