Work life balance

Diving and life

I had always wanted to get PADI certified for scuba diving. It was a bucket list item that I wanted to check off. I didn’t realize the skills and training that would go into it until I started taking the e-learning online course beforehand.

PADI is not easy! I am still unsure why I didn’t put too much thought into getting certified before the actual day of class. Needless to say the night before class I was terrified. Being under water and learning a new set of skills was going to require a big mindset change. I was nervous about how my husband and I were going to fare.

Here’s what I know now. Like everything else in life, diving is possible and enjoyable if you put your mind to It and stick with your training. It does require a mindset shift but once that happens, you’re in for a world of joy and exploration. I know a lot of people reading this may be experienced and advanced open water divers, so expect some technical mistakes in this post. If you think differently about something I mentioned, please let me know.

Here is what I learned from diving and how it also applies to life!

My husband and I after our diving certification
  1. Remembering to breathe in and out

I still remember our instructor mention to us again and again- ‘you aren’t fish, you can’t use your nose; use your mouth and keep breathing under water.’ It’s interesting how something we do day in and day out our whole lives on land, practically taking for granted, needs to be focused on and remembered under water. I have to admit that as a beginner, my first day diving was spent in mild panic and anxiety over breathing. I had to remind myself to breathe long and deep and not let my anxiety get the better of me. Breathing under water after all is not normal, it’s a learned skill.

Our immediate flight and fight response would tell us to go straight up to the surface after all. Why would we even be under water if not in an emergency? I saw this scenario play out in a fellow PADI candidate. She struggled the first few times and would swim back up to the surface every time she found a new challenge.

2. It’s a mind game

Can you list every time someone has asked you to go with your gut? I have said it multiple times too! And sure, I stand by that for the most part but not when it comes to diving under water. When I was diving, I had to actively try and calm my mind. I was also forced to ignore my gut feeling. My gut feeling kept telling me diving was unnatural and I could just as easily be snorkeling or swimming at the surface. My gut feeling was telling me to abandon the training mid-way.

This is not to say that against all odds should you complete a task you have started. Just like on land, under water too if you don’t feel comfortable doing something, you should get out of it.

However, my point here is that diving is not comfortable for anyone. And it was the discomfort of learning a new skill that I was having to fight. Remember the first time you tried swimming, skiing or learned a new language? The initial bit was hard, wasn’t it? It made you feel like giving up. But you persisted and prevailed. This is what diving and life is all about. You have to get through the sticky bits to enjoy the good stuff.

3. When times get tough, go back to your training

Photo by Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández on Unsplash

When we were going around practicing different skills under water, my ears would suddenly start hurting or water would creep into my mask blocking visibility. I would start to mentally, and then physically, struggle. This again is normal. My gut feeling again was to go up to the surface, fix my gear and descend back down.

It took a mental shift to try and address the challenge under water in a calm manner. While its perfectly reasonable to have that reaction on training days, this is very important to master once you begin diving regularly. Learning to rely on yourself first, and then your buddy is a skill. And, going back to what we learned in class is what helps here.

4. Every moment counts

I remember first learning about diving from a Bollywood movie. I knew what diving was before but didn’t understand the technicalities behind it or how fun it could be. Watching one of my favorite actors ‘learn to dive’ on the big screen was motivation for me to do it on my own. In the movie, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, there is a dialogue that I am translating here in English, ‘diving teaches you to make the most of every second you have.’

My experience could not be any further from that. After our training was complete, we went on an exploratory dive around Black Rock. Black Rock is a beautiful spot to snorkel and dive in on Maui. Its reef is a natural habitat to so many aquatic species. Luckily by then, I’d somewhat mastered the basic skills of breathing and controlling my buoyancy under water. In the few minutes that followed I was able to experience the joy of seeing different fish up close and noting their colors, patterns and sometimes, silly facial expressions. Some fish are curious and come very close to you! I was swimming with a fellow instructor at the time. I quickly started sharing with him the under-water camaraderie I had with my husband. That is, taking turns to point at different fish or anything interesting we see underwater.

I remember doing this for only a few minutes before realizing I was running low on air and needed to ascend. That’s the thing. Our time under water is limited. Just like it is here on land, and on earth! We have to make the most of it. It is so important to lose yourself in every moment and make the most of your time.

Diving is considered by many to be a meditative sport. However, you don’t need to dive in order to meditate. You can do that sitting right at home too. Hope this was a fun post for you read and learn more about diving.  

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