Monday, May 18, 2009

Learning from the Fish (or Facing My Fears Part II)

Barton Springs Pool, Austin, TX

My usual trepidation began as I set out for my open workout yesterday evening at Barton Springs. I had a near accident on the highway getting there while asking Arv about how deep 30ft was. As I was driving, I pointed to the height of the freeway to get an idea of the depth, veered into another lane and nearly skidded. After the drama, Arv looked at me wryly and said "you need to stop thinking about swimming when you're driving!"

Just as I got ready to get into the springs, I met a friend of mine and we chatted. As I expressed my trepidation at looking at the depth of the lake, my friend said something that struck me, "when you look inside and see the fish hanging out, it's really pretty cool! You'll feel like you're flying..." I thought about for sometime. The idea of flying held for me a great sense of freedom. It put me in a contemplative mood.

My plan was to swim 800m with the pull buoy and REALLY look into the clear springs. I had never dared to look inside (and usually got away with keeping my eyes closed or head straight ahead). With security of a floating device, I figured even if I panicked, I would not struggle in the water and feed my fear further. This plan worked like a charm. It really gave me an opportunity to peer into the depth of the springs. At one point, I just stopped stroking and floated.. observing the fish below. I was reminded of what Steph told me me last year, how amazing it was to watch life underwater when you really paid attention and observed. Most of the fish moved away from me hurriedly. A few others lay very still. I was calmed by their stillness. Some looked at me inquiringly. And it dawned on me that if such little fish could be so comfortable in the water, I did not have anything to fear. (except arguably my mind!)

After that, I did another 400m unassisted. I felt myself gliding through the Springs, using very little effort. I realized that the reason I had gasped and usually felt tired after open water swims was because I expended a lot of energy in the process of panicking - breathing deeply, irregularly, heart rate racing, all of it drained my energy. If I could stay calm, and just swim, I would not be as exhausted.

Towards the end of it, I still swam a little cautiously, no doubt. But I had learned from the fish. To be in the water as they were.. practicing stillness. Within.


apoorva said...

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Vishwas said...

well done. a step in the right direction! :)

Charanya said...

Good job at S and D today!! Was great to see you smiling at the end of it all! :)

halley claire said...

The inspiration for conquering life's challenges is all around you! I'm glad you were able to unveil another discovery along this journey! Love reading your stories :)

The Steph said...

You've made an amazing transformation, my dear!

Sangeetha said...

Hi. I happened to land at your blog googling triathlons in Austin! I live in Austin too and have been looking for a support group to train and share ideas. Have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see an active Indian triing group. I am relatively new to the sport having done two triathalons last summer and getting ready for the Danskin this weekend. I am addicted:) and would love to continue training through the summer with a group. where do you train? Would love to hear more....

Sharanya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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