How Freediving creates Mindfulness. Learn from our Head of Community Emilia Biała

12.12.2018 Adrian Walker

Learn how Emilia fell in love with the element of water, how she discovered freediving as a sport and as a meditation tool. For many of us, free diving sounds scary - you dive very deep while you hold your breath. For Emilia it represents freedom and the tool to meditate. Forget yesterday and tomorrow, block out the noise, concentrate on the here and now. Easy said but hard to do. Learn how Emilia managed to learn it in the depths of the water and how the meditating effect gives her strength and energy - and focus.

Excel. I always hated excel. Truly and with compassion. 

Ha! That’s the beginning of my true life story I have just honestly admitted when talking with Adrian and Natalya Walker, co-founders of Boataffair during our last meeting in Zurich. I wouldn’t necessary recommend saying that when applying for a job and it may not be that the best way to introduce yourself.  If it was a regular job. We had so much fun while talking about  professional background and brainstorming the future concepts related to Boataffair. Previously, I used to work for almost a decade for a B2B company in the city center of Warsaw. Fortunately my job was to connect right people to the right company ensuring the business would work better and more efficiently. Therefoe, I had not spent so much time  with excel sheets. I have always enjoyed meeting people, listening to them and creating the perfect business solutions.

But at the same time I had a great interest in water. I often I arrived to the office directly after a morning swimming session  at the city pool with my hair still wet and shape of googles  pressed on my face. I was very lucky that my collegues were toleratant of me and my big monofin and few kilos of led in the room. I really enjoyed switching from fins into the high - heeled shoes. At the beginning my monofin wasn't part of the equation. I didn't even know what the monofin was.  I was just simply going for a swim to keep in  proper shape after spending long hours in the office.  At some point I noticed that water was necessary to balance my work-life. Being away from it longer than couple of days made me feeling that I really needed something – I was more tense, physically and mentally. 

That was kind of "eureka' to me - almost each time after leaving the pool I felt much more peaceful! Then one time, during very regular pool routine I saw someone swimming under the water with a huge monofin. I was absolutely mesmerized by this view of a dolphin men, moving smoothly and freely. I found out later on that it was freediving. But I didn’t need to know term for that. It actually became very powerful tool for self development and great life teacher. For someone who has never heard about it – freediving it’s an underwater activity on the single breath. Sounds occured, right? Or at least dangerous. You hold your breath and swim in the pool (for distance) or in the sea (on depth). If you have ever as a kid tried to hold your breath in the bath you can imagine what it feels like. But believe me – it’s much more. And could mean something different for every single person.

The most powerful and breakthrough moment was when I realized that in fact I don’t need to have a superhuman abilities to become a freediver. I learned it was my mental approach that mattered much more than than being in good physical shape. I never considered myself as a good swimmer. I was rather average and never thought I can obtain any impressive results. Gradually, as I got more involved in breathold trainings and I encounterd more advanced freedivers Iearned and I learned a lot from them. I discovered so much about the importance of my approach. Simply focusing on my abilities enabled me to create the action and witness positive results. First of all thanks to freediving I learned how to be present in the right time and place. Nowadays it is a slogan “be here and now”. Sounds very simple, isn't? Not at all! Try to forget the past and not to think about anything that can happen in the future. In daily routine we are still analyzing and judging our results, very often we are concerned about our future and all small details. Millions of thoughts bombarding our mind by single minute.  Some of them are positive, some negative, they motivate or discourage us– joy, fear, anger, expectations, disappointment… I am more than sure that everyone could add to that list plenty of other, we all know that. Now, years after that point I can definitively say that freediving let me to accept all these emotions and just observe them as it was a motivation.

Some people say that freediving is actually and underwater meditation. You observe your thoughts, you allow them flow, you are conscious of them and how they reflect in your body. When you are fully immersed and diving holding your breath you cannot actually pretend someone you are not. You cannot force your body to do something you don’t believe. You cannot allow the doubts to enter your mind. You are completely disconnected from the other reality, the only what matters is you now and here. Even if it takes one or two minutes. It could be a really long journey. While you are relaxed and concentrated time flies differently. Can you imagine that the current world record in freediving on a single breath in the sea is below 130 m and static breathold (“just” holding the breath for time, floating on the surface of the water) is around 12 minutes? If you try to count your breathold time right now – how much it would be? That was absolutely fascinating to me: how it is possible that a human being is able to do so? Our body has some amazing sea mammal abilities but at the same time our mind is very powerful and drives us further and further. I could then learn that also and apply it to my daily and professional life. Impossible is nothing.

Over a year after being hypnotized by the “dolphin man” of the Polish pool I set 6 national records in all pool disciplines and become a world vice-champion in that discipline called “dynamic with monofin”. How did it happen? For sure I had a lot of luck,  great people who helped me in the training, but also showed me that anything you can imagine is possible. Honestly, I never ever dreamt about such results. Few years later I become a freedive instructor and felt very grateful and privileged to be able to share my experience with the others on very exotic islands around the world. I quit my office life. Actually the most I enjoy teaching absolute newcomers and seeing them growing and discovering how great tool could be practicing concentration and letting yourself to the water could be. Tool to many different life dimensions.

I was extremely lucky to have freediving introduced but I am sure that many of you have your own way to find your peace and connection with the nature, yourself, to relax, to get entertainment. That could be running, paragliding, sking, sailing… For me though the great privilege is connection with water. I respect and admire it. It revives me. I know we are all only the little but powerful its integrated particles. We can cause a tsunami or make get the right wind in the sails.

Photo Credits: Sahika Ercumen, Rafał Meszka, Artur Dąbrowski

How Freediving creates Mindfulness. Learn from our Head of Community Emilia Biała
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