I recently had a lightbulb moment. I realised that I hadn’t been swimming – and I mean proper swimming – in years. (Frolicking on the beach doesn’t count… I’m talking laps.) I’ve been a strong swimmer for as long as I can remember; I had lessons as a child, my sister and I swam competitively for years during our teens, and I’ve always enjoyed it so much. But I had reached a point where I didn’t even own a suitable swimsuit.
And so the mission began. You know that feeling when you have an idea and you can’t get it out of your head until you nail it? I was totally in the zone. I picked up an inspiring new one-piece (who knew sporty-swim-fashion is way cooler than it was a decade ago) and looked up the opening hours of my local pool.
Nekminnit, I’m at the pool, excited out of my mind. (Mind you, all of the above happened within the space of about 2 hours.) I changed, organised my locker, and headed into the pool.
The moment I walked into the pool area, the smell of chlorine hit my nostrils and I got an instant hit of butterflies in my belly. That smell of chlorine, the light humidity on my skin, seeing the coloured flags, hearing that familiar splashing sound… I took everything in. I felt my body instantly going into a “nervous zone” because I used to associate swimming with competition. I find it so amazing how those sensory triggers brought out the same physical response in my body, yet I haven’t swam a race in years.
Sliding my body into the pool was an awesome sensation. Cooling and warming at the same time, the water wrapped itself around my skin. (I must have looked pretty goofy because I went through this entire process with a big smile on my face.) As I moved through the water, I felt instantly calm. I felt my worries melt away and my thoughts become much clearer.
Through this experience, I realised how slowly and mindfully I had lived through it all and the difference in my mindset as a result. Mindfulness is a way of living, a way of experiencing life. Whilst meditation is an incredible skill to have and a beautifully clarifying practice to incorporate into your daily life, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of mindfulness. Be present. Look, listen, feel and enjoy what you’re doing right now. Allow your current state of being, moving, working or whatever you’re doing – be at the forefront of your mind, rather than reliving the past or worrying about the future.