I love freediving for a number of reasons, and one of them is the fact that I have become a master in relaxation. I kind of consider my life as before freediving (BF) and after freediving (AF), and I have really mastered my way to relaxation, how to get in the zone, space out, and relax only with the aid of my breath and power of the mind. Besides technique, relaxation is very fundamental to freediving. Even our ability to equalize depends on our ability to relax and let go. The deeper we want to go, the more we have to let go.
What a good freediving instructor can, and should, teach is certainly the way to reach “the zone” through relaxation. Whilst it’s easy to tell someone ‘just relax’, it is an unnerving comment to receive when one doesn’t have the tools that allow them to release and sink in. In fact, there are certain shortcuts to achieve relaxation. One of them is certainly to stop multitasking, being present in the moment whilst stopping being anxious about the future or being depressed about past events. Personally, I have had an interest in everything that relates to breathwork, meditation, and mindfulness for a long time as I noticed the immediate high that the simple act of breathing consciously would give me. When I was living in London before starting freediving I had joined Buddhist meditation groups, chanting groups, practiced kundalini for hours at the time, and noticed how all my anxieties would immediately vanish and dissolve. No wonder that I picked up freediving quite fast, ending up at -85m in just one year and a half of training. Freediving is only about putting pieces of a puzzle together, and the truth is, focusing on the breath is the ultimate shortcut.
- Start your stretching with breathing exercises: I do the “breath of fire” exercises (forced exhale, relaxed inhale) with my eyes closed as it helps me to detach from the outside world and make acquaintance with my inner world.
- Do your stretching routine, then do your equalization exercises, then lie down and work on relaxation exercises.
- End up with a power nap if possible: short naps of 20-30 minutes allow your nervous system to reset.
- Wear your wetsuit as slowly as possible.
- Speak as little as possible ahead of the dive.
- If you really must speak, speak slowly and kindly.
- If you really must speak, tell a joke.
- Move slowly, avoid any abrupt movements.
- If an anxious or dark thought comes in, replace it immediately with a light one, one that makes you laugh, or smile.
- Smile a lot. Fake it until you make it. Smiling relaxes the muscles in the face. As we normally smile when we are relaxed or when we let our guards down, the brain will recognize the act of smiling as a sign that we are relaxed and in turn will relax all other muscles.