Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Fear.

Well, I didn't get to creating any art projects today. I did, however, come across yet another lesson that is getting me closer to my spirit and soul than any art project could. That, my dear friends, is the lesson of fear.

We all live with it. It is one of the primary obstacles named in yoga. No matter what its form, we are all afraid of something (many things actually). Generally we find ways of avoiding dealing with it. If we fear snakes, we avoid hiking through the tall grasses. If we fear public speaking, we make sure we don't pursue an acting career. If we fear failure, we constantly choose the path that is well traveled -- safe.

I don't know what it is about water, but it is both a symbol of my deepest love and in practicality one of my deepest fears.

I remember back in high school when I was really, truly a goodie-two-shoes. Lying to any of my teachers was simply unheard of in my life. Yet I vividly remember a swimming/diving class during high school where the coaches/teachers were making us try to jump in the pool without holding our nose. I was terrified of this....and came up with a story that my doctor had advised against it due to some condition I had. Of course, they knew I was lying but must have picked up on how thoroughly against doing this I was (to lie!)...I'm pretty sure I didn't have to do it.

Fast forward to today. We had a quick snack when Tyler got home from school and headed over to the YMCA. I've been so anxious about getting into the pool and have just wanted to get over that first step. The first step wasn't so bad. The second? Not so good.

I honestly tried a couple of times to do the breathing that you are supposed to do while swimming (turn head to side, breathe in through mouth, face back in water). Because I don't have a nose plug yet, I tried exhaling through my nose. The feeling of trying to breathe like this made me so anxious that my breath rate increased, making it even more difficult to try this technique. It only took a few drops of water up the nose before I had to stop.

I was embarassed (seriously, others were doing laps all around me), angry at myself (I use the freakin' neti pot for heaven's sake - I PURPOSEFULLY poor stuff up my nostrils!), and still anxious. All of this was covering up that deep fear that has been ingrained since that little high schooler lied to her teachers. I did a few more laps with keeping my face out of the water and decided to move onto the track. (Only had an hour for child care and I wanted to get some cardio in.)

And yet....I have signed Chris & I up for private swimming lessons. I am NOT going to let this get the best of me. Honestly, my pulse is quickening even thinking about putting my face in the water again. Yet I know deep down that someday I will be over this. Someday I will look back and smile a knowing and sympathetic smile at the person next to me struggling with proper breathing. I will still have fears, but proper breathing while swimming won't be one of them.

(And of course, I'm still a little fearful of those reading this going, really?! Afraid of that?! Wow. But I know for each person that might feel that way, there's another breathing a sigh of relief that someone else at this age shares that fear.)

Perhaps the biggest thrill I get from all of this is the fact that I am facing one of my fears head on. I could go the rest of my life never really knowing how to swim. I could even do a team triathlon situation if I so desired, only doing the cycling or running part. But I'm tired of ignoring life.

I'll get my nose plugs, practice breathing in the bathtub at home (where at least I don't have to worry about others watching me), and learn along the way. I have a long way to go and thats the way I like it. I'll be able to look back at this post in a year and realize just how far I've come.

I'm diving right into it.

Your turn.

What I did:

*(a.m.) 30 min. yoga (helped with aches from yesterdays bike ride!)
(*Dr.'s visit - got physical therapy routine to be done at home for knee issue, received call back from primary physician saying to check in with "back doctor"...got call back from "back doctor" saying to keep working on core strength but ok to train. If pain too bad, I'll head back into doctor.)
(*Purchased Mizunos that I will pick up tomorrow in Greenwood. Anxious to see if these will help)
*(p.m.) 20 min. "swimming"
1.5 miles / 20-25 min. walk/run (walked one lap, ran one, etc....ran the last two)

What I learned:

  • My son is a great friend....(he sympathized on our way home that he hates water up his nose too.)
  • Heat pads are a god-send.
  • Other people can be a huge motivator even without knowing they are doing so. This is both good and bad. Someone staring at me in the pool might have just been admiring my sexy swimmers cap (oh yeah, that capped off bald-look is back in style now) but it motivated me to fear (they must be thinking I should be swimming instead of hanging on the wall in the lap lane!). Later, someone running behind me on the lap motivated me to run yet another lap...hey, a little competition can be healthy!
  • Child care is expensive. 1 hour at the YMCA cost me $6 in child care for both kids. I know this may seem relatively cheap, but whether I spring for the $50 monthly pass or keep paying this amount, this is going to add up!
  • I'm stronger than my fear. I AM STRONGER than my fear. SO ARE YOU.