I have two passions, teaching swimming and macro-photography. But, how do the two meld?
Photography has taught me how to be in the 'present moment'. It’s not about just taking a photo, but being present with the subject, and the energy that surrounds it. When that connection takes place I become more mindful, my breathing becomes deeper and I feel calmer. I apply those same principles to those who have a fear of water.
Often when one is anxious, or afraid, we respond to a feeling or an emotion deep inside of us that takes us back to the past. We’re no longer living in the present moment. The mind at that point is blocked, our breath is literally taken away, and our energy is diminished.
Last July I ran a swimming clinic from Lifeworks in Middleburg Heights, Cleveland OH.
A delightful, bright 11-year old girl (Riley) who has Aspergers was one of my students.
Riley had unfortunately learned that water was something to be afraid of. Her first words to me were “what if I fall over, what if I drown, what if I swallow water, what if, what if?” Not only could I see the fear in her face, but I could feel it in her body, and in the sound of her voice. Her fear of the water was very real.
Riley was responding to a past emotion. Her fear was guiding her and she was feeling out of control. But with time, patience and understanding Riley started to become water-confident and discovered how and why she could float. She learned how to submerge without the water entering her nose or mouth. Yes, there were times when we had tears with “I can’t do that, it’s too hard,” but because we had worked towards building trust with each other and established a solid foundation, she was able to reframe the experience. Together we worked through her anxieties. This gave her more trust and confidence in her belief in herself, and her abilities.
On Riley’s last swimming lesson, it clicked. She could take control of her fear by being mindful, and living in the present moment. With support from me she was able to trust herself that she could doggy-paddle across the pool with her face in the water – she was awesome! It truly was a very special moment, not only for Riley, but also for her mother, who was on poolside with tears in her eyes.
To read further of Riley’s swimming achievement please visit her blog: http://fullsoulahead.com/2011/07/13/proud-little-mermaid/
I’ve had so many delights in teaching women, men and children to overcome their fear of water. All of them amazing in their own way. Each person had a uniqueness, with a past-story to tell of their swimming journey. Some never had the opportunity to learn how to swim, others had been traumatized by a bad childhood experience. A few were initially afraid to take lessons as they felt they were now too old. Some had tried lessons with a traditional swimming teacher, but soon gave up as their needs were not met or understood. But old or young, all of them shared an important breakthrough when they made a conscious effort to live in the moment.
My swim with The Mind/Body Awareness Programme was to create a method of introducing people to a different way in how they view the water.
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere ~ Anon