When I was about 8 or 9 years old I went to a water park with camp. My mom would have me all signed up for camp as soon as I was out of school for summer vacation. I loved it. I made friends, I went to the pool, we went for hikes, went to the zoo – what an awesome time. After the water park incident though, I wasn’t very keen on going back the following summers. I did, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. I never developed a fear of water – but a fear for being alone in a place I didn’t know or with people who didn’t know me.
As a child, I remember being at a water park in a wave pool just a few feet in. I wasn’t a strong swimmer but I could tread water for a long time. I just hadn’t tried treading water when there were waves big enough to cover my head. I remember loving them at first, but waves tend to pull you in a little deeper, even in a pool. Eventually, the waves got bigger, and I could no longer control the direction my body went. I was being swooshed left and right, back and forth, sometimes my feet would touch the ground but if they did, the water was above my head and I had to kick the ground hard to get back to the top – to breathe. I managed to do that for a while but my muscles tired out quickly and I had no idea where I was in the pool. Slowly, the more I tried to gasp for air, the more water would fill my throat, my mouth. I still remember the heavy taste of chlorine, the smell of it. The burning sensation in my nose going to the back of my throat. That itchy but painful sensation. But I wanted to keep breathing – just one breath of fresh air was all I needed. But I just couldn’t make it to the top. I was too deep and I couldn’t kick up anymore. My arms were of no use to me.
As I grow older, I realize that life can sometimes feel like that incident. You’re constantly treading, trying to keep yourself afloat. Sometimes a big wave comes crashing onto you and you feel like you might be at a loss. You try to take back that control, by fighting, kicking hard, but your environment is impossibly stubborn. It shifts relentlessly on its own.
A few years ago that pain came rushing back. Every time I took a breath in my rib cage felt like it couldn’t expand anymore and I used to get this sharp familiar feeling at the back of my throat moving all the way to rest right in the middle of my chest. And it hurt. It hurt so much that I had to find ways to cope. I couldn’t deal with the hurt anymore. I needed a breath of fresh air. My coping mechanisms weren’t healthy, so eventually, just a little over 3 years ago, I found a healthier way to process the pain. I started yoga. I started talking. I started opening up. I started but I haven’t finished. There’s still a lot of tug and pull going on.
The incident in the water - when I’d come to, I was by the side of the pool and there were a few people around me including one of my camp counselors. It was a weird feeling opening up my eyes and not seeing anyone I really knew. They were just a bunch of strangers bobbing their heads above mine. Someone had pulled me from the water – they’d come down the emergency ladder and pulled me up to safety. I was a kid back then. I was still learning how to swim. I only knew how to tread water.
Assuming you’ve practiced at Luna before, you know that the energy in the space is always a welcoming one. It’s not only bright lit studio, the music or the enchanting décor that invites you in. It’s the people. It’s a place where no matter who you talk to, there’s a bond being made. There are no strangers. It’s in this space where you can’t help but feel lighter. You roll out your mat, you take a seat, and then – it finally comes. That breath of fresh air. The breath you’ve been looking for.
Today, swimming is a special part of who I am. I love the ocean. I love to dive and snorkel and I love the waves. I love the feeling. And I’m grateful to my practice for that. I was taught to see things differently. I was taught that perhaps, moving with the waves, letting them take you on a journey, is OK. It might feel scary at first, but there’s a reason the wave is taking you there. There’s something you have to experience. And we can all find it in us to keep on treading.
Here’s a challenge for you:
When things ever feel a little shaky or out of your control, find one thing, whether it’s your practice, your breakfast, your dog. Find that one thing – that day – that you’re most grateful for. Sometimes, it can make all the difference.
October Thanksgiving challenge:
I can’t assume that anything I wrote was relatable, but if there’s anything at all that seems a little familiar, maybe today is the day you make a shift. Let the waves form, but as they pass, instead of letting the fear and uncertainty take over, make a conscious decision to find something to hold onto. Something to keep you steady. Today, maybe even tomorrow, choose to be grateful for one thing in your life, your day.
We’ve created a ‘10 Things, 10 Days’ gratitude card that you can download and print out to keep you motivated! Try to update it once a day for as long as you can. It is the month of thanks after all, so maybe your challenge is to keep going until the end of the month!
Printable Gratitude card