The lull of water, especially living bodies of it, is soporific and enlivening- all those ions! After the mind calms and all the minutae that bombards you for the first hour – all those little things you’ve forgotten, all those irritations that haven’t been resolved- finally give up and leave you alone, you get great swathes of….not silence, exactly; the shlop of your arms as they turn over is rather like the slap of waves on the bow of a boat when you’ve got almost no wind. Then there’s the gentle rhythm of your breathing- the bubbles that could be mechanical in sound if it wasn’t so organic. It becomes hypnotic in its own right- soothing and forms its own pattern. The awareness of feeling your arms move in their rotation is often not even perceived to be linked with the sound of the swoosh through the water. It makes an odd situation- total immersion, yet there is so much room for the mind to separate existence out into varying levels and compartments. Movement, sensation, thought, emotion and pure observation rise and fall in their own time.

And when the sun shines, that grey-blue fathomless expanse beneath is pierced by a reverse star- burst. The light rays hone in on themselves giving a glimpse at the sense of depth- and as the water ripples that star burst sways and dances, so you can pick up on the movement of the water- the wave pattern, the current. It is stunning…literally. I can spend hours watching the play of light shimmer. When I was swimming in Hawaii; and the water was so clear you could make out the sand patterns on the sea bed some 100 foot below, the swerve of surface water and the light shaft and the deeper, more profound moulding of the sand all started to make sense- tesselate- a path opened up where the wave pattern and current made a line of least resistence. Ocean swimming is a joy- reading the water much as a sailor does, although the wind plays a very different role.

Once you realise that discomfort is just one of many sensations and that sensation is just one of many perspectives on existence, it recedes in your consciousness – as does boredom. How can you possibly be bored with a whole universe of experience, and very little to distract you? And you can’t stray too much- you’ll mis-time your breath and be brought straight back to reality! What a forum for understanding your place in the world, and to work out the kinks on your head! All under your own steam.