Once upon a time, I was a competitive swimmer – fly and free were my strokes. that’s butterfly and freestyle. When I was in rhythm I would feel like I was flying free as my mind cued my body’s movement with the song “Chicka Boom, don’t jest just love it”. The rhythm called forth effortless breath and movement – I could swim forever.
Over 40 years later, I re-entered the lap pool and experiences a racer’s mindset that no longer matched my body’s capability. The learning is humbling. I am not able to swim a full lap of butterfly, free or strained, chicka bomb is a more apt description. Within that limitation, a gift arose. No longer needing to race or beat anyone in the lane next to me, my mind turned into sensation instead of speed. The qualities of underwater sight was overwhelming. Information swirled as I would take a breath and see above and below within seconds the kind of slow motion water movement can induce. I soon realized it was best to keep my eyes closed. I focus on sound – so many sounds, splashes, breath, bubbles, my humming, and the further sounds of the other swimmers and actives beyond. Once saturated by sound, I turned my mind to touch. Again so much came forward. One arm pressing the water under me, while the opposite arm’s elbow lifted like a spring out of the water, arm – extended forward and fingertips re-entered to automatically press, push and pull my body forward. The feeling of gliding through the water, flipper assisted, hips open and long, mindfulness in my feet – a locomotive propelling me forward.
The entire experience used me up physically my energy was drained by the full body experience. My mind saturated by sensory stimuli, on the other hand, was calm, steady and tranquil. I realized I learned a new way to fly and be free, yet not by racing and seeking medals. Rather a contentment born of the intimacy with self-experiencing the universe of sensations re-born within, in water – where all life begins.