Do you have three minutes to spare?
Not just any time. Specifically the three minutes just before you enter the pool, or any body of water.
If you do, try this: Sit or stand wherever you’re comfortable. Then breathe through your nose, counting down 20 breaths.
Each time you exhale, think: 20 . . . 19 . . . 18 . . .
Try to think of nothing else, but the act of exhaling and the number you silently ‘breathe.’
When you reach One, enter the water and begin your practice.
The first time you try this, set a single goal: To focus only on a relaxing and complete exhale. Leave a small ‘empty’ space –lungs and mind–before the next inhale.
The second time, slow your breathing, slightly but progressively, as you count down. See if that leaves you feeling more relaxed and calmer.
The third time, notice any stray thoughts (other than breathing and counting) that occur. Practice letting them go and returning your focus to where you intend.
As you begin swimming, check in on the following:
- Do you feel more relaxed physically?
- Do you feel a little calmer mentally–perhaps a bit more detached from whatever you were doing before coming to the pool?
- Are you a little less distracted, more able to focus on the skills or sensations you’re aiming to improve?
If so, you’ve begun mastering the most important swimming skill of all — the ability to notice, to become more self-aware.
In 10 days or so, I’ll share the next level of this skill.