Last week I took advantage of a 5-day gap in my schedule (between speaking at a midwives seminar and supervising the College Acupuncture Clinic) and headed off for a well-earned break to the warm, tropical waters of North Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.
Yes, the mini-holiday was relaxing, but it was my activity of choice that had far more to offer in tranquility than your average beach holiday. I wanted to really slow down. And this pastime had plenty to offer for busy, city people who rush around, burn the candle at both ends and see the world in a blur.
I went scuba diving: three days living on a boat, ten dives, plenty of food and a few naps. Bliss. Not at all an extreme sport, well not the way I do it anyway.
But why was it so deeply relaxing?
- Go slow. Scuba diving makes you slow down. You can’t swim fast, and if you try to move about in a flurry, you disturb your buoyancy and end up floating towards the surface and/or stirring up the sand on the bottom. A definite no-no. In fast-paced modern life there aren’t many activities that are encouraged to be done slowly, diving is one of the rare few.
- Breathe. Remember how to breathe slowly and deeply? As soon as most of us are stressed our breathing rate increases and becomes shallow. When scuba diving, it’s advantageous to slow your breathing rate down to conserve air, that way you can enjoy the tranquil underwater world for longer. Breathing slowly also encourages our blood vessels to dilate and our blood pressure to lower, which is relaxing for both the mind and the body.
- Enjoy the moment. This is perhaps the most important point and one that is easily missed in normal life. The practice of ‘mindfulness meditation’ is built on this concept. Rather than clearing your mind of thoughts, we focus on really experiencing exactly what is around us, right at this second. When scuba diving, as we slowly move through the water, the whole idea is to do just that, explore the surroundings – take in the big picture; the beautiful coral gardens and abundant fish life or focus in on the minute detail of a section of rock and its little ecosystem of shrimp, nudibranchs and tiny fish – the things you would ordinarily be too busy to notice (such as the anemone fish pictured above). Time may almost stand still. (And the added bonus of that is your holiday will also seem longer!)
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diving offers us real ‘yin’ time. It’s not only slow and peaceful, but also involves being immersed in cool water. You can’t get much more yin that that.
This is just one way I like to unwind. How do you choose to spend your ‘yin’ time?
To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture). Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.