I started swimming a few months back. My rationale at the time was something about realizing that I’m not getting younger here and I need to do something to show the universe I’m trying to stave off the ravages of decrepitude some 30 years down the line. Apparently, swimmers are physiologically about 18 years younger than their non-swimming counterparts – who comes up with these statistics – and I’d like to hedge my bets as much as possible. I’m officially at the age where I’ve got to start that nonsense. So I started.
And discovered that it is paying crazy dividends for my sense of mental balance. My mentor mentioned that symmetrical movement helps the brain hemispheres get re-organized, which is good for an overall sense of balance, but google doesn’t seem to be coughing up any research to back that up. It sounds good, if nothing else.
Maybe it’s got something to do with the meditative breathing. It forces a rhythm, and, come to think of it, it forces deep breathing as well. None of this shallow breathing nonsense. There is a lot of research on the connection between how we feel and our physiological presence. If you want to appear more confident, go to the bathroom and stand in a victory pose (arms up in the air like you just won the Marine Corps Marathon) for a while. You can be in a good mood or smile, or you can smile and change your mood.
It’s working on a lot of levels, then.
Intense rooting in the body: don’t drown, don’t drown, don’t drown.
Zazen-like counting: reach 1, reach 2, reach 3 and breathe. reach 1, reach 2, reach 3 and breathe.
Being so busy trying to remember how many laps you’ve gone thus far that you can’t think about anything else, thereby breaking whatever patterns of thought you’d been stuck in: was this lap 7 or lap 8? They all look the same!
Symmetrical movement, perhaps balancing out the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
Oh, and the part where I found a muscle yesterday and I didn’t even have to go looking for it.
I know I’m not the only one in the world with a propensity for anxiety and a distaste for exercise. If my motivator were to be a bean-pole, I’d have quit by now, for sure. But if anyone else out there is running out of xanax and wanting some feel better that doesn’t come in a pill… I’m suggesting you give the pool a shot.
Just not my pool. There are plenty of people at that one already.