The latest installment in an ongoing series of newly-released material from Terry Laughlin’s unpublished
Overcome the worst Illness - Buddha.
Plant raw Vegan Broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, beans
vegetables, Dwarf fruit 🍎 🍉 trees in pots and all over the world and
Space to eat like birds as planned by NASA, British billionaire Richard
Branson flew into space aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel and Jeff Bezos.
Entire Earth and Space are Amudha SURABI of Manimegalai.
Ashoka planted fruit bearing trees all over his empire.
perception arises first, and knowledge after. And the arising of
knowledge comes from the arising of perception. One discerns, ‘It’s in
dependence on this that my knowledge has arisen.’ Through this line of
reasoning one can realize how perception arises first, and knowledge
after, and how the arising of knowledge comes from the arising of perception-Buddha
Practice Mindful Swimming - Vimalo
Awakened Ashoka Manimegali Fellow
following is a description of how Mindful Meditation can be done while
swimming. This would be especially useful for those people who are
regular swimmers and who would like to make use of this routine to help
them to develop a fuller life.
I’m no Diana Nyad. But I’m a capable swimmer. During the summer
months, I regularly swim a half-mile in the Pacific Ocean, churning
through waves and unpredictable tides with the self-assurance of a Los
So when a gym pal encouraged me to improve my strokes by taking a
lesson with Dan Halladay, a retired UCLA women’s swim team coach, I was
game. I liked the idea of refining my freestyle, polishing my flip
turns, and getting in some intense swim workouts.
As I headed to the pool for my first lesson, I was surprised to feel a
pang of nervous tightness in my chest. I met Dan, a fit 68-year-old
with a genuine smile, at the far end of a lane reserved for lessons. Dan
got down to business quickly, explaining that he’d film my first 50
yards on his iPhone and then get in the water to instruct.
I pulled on my orange swim cap, squared my goggles over my nose, and
slipped into the chlorine-scented water. Taking off with purpose, I
whirled my arms and kicked my feet at a fast clip. I hit the wall,
reversing course with a solid flip turn, and kept pace to finish
Dan was waiting at the water’s edge. My friend had told me that no
matter how good a swimmer I thought I was, Dan would offer corrections.
Of course; that’s why I was taking a lesson. But what Dan said surprised
Dan relayed the kind of wisdom that transcends sport: “We only have so many starry nights left.”
“Wow, you’re like a wind-up toy in the water,” he joked. Taking a
more serious tone, he told me: “Relax. Slow down.” Then, Dan relayed the
kind of wisdom that transcends sport: “We only have so many starry
The nervous tightness in my chest blossomed. I felt both embarrassed
and profoundly seen by Dan’s seemingly obvious observation of my Type A
tendencies. The harsh voice of self-criticism rang in my ears: “Why are you trying so hard? You’re not training for the Olympics!”
Then, as it often does when I need it most, my mindfulness practice
showed up. I took a deep breath and softened my body. In the space I
created between my critical thoughts, waves of self-compassion
arose. Pema Chödrön’s sweet refrain of self-acceptance—“allow, allow,
allow”—floated into my mind. Reframing my reactivity with kindness, I
thought how normal it was for me and for all of us to return to our
habitual set points when we try something new, feel stressed, or just
get a bad night’s sleep.
And yet, there in the pool my striving was laid bare. Swimming, like
many sports, can be an embodied metaphor for how we relate to life. I’ve
long equated effort with excellence. More often than not, I’ve made it
happen, rather than let it happen. Sometimes there’s merit in that
hard-nosed approach. It’s made me successful. But it’s also made me
stressed and, at times, woefully unhappy.
Like many people who begin and then develop a lifelong meditation
practice, I began meditating as a way to unwind my tightly wound nervous
system. It’s worked. Even in times of great difficulty, I’m so much
less stressed than I ever have been. The way I muscled myself from one
end of the pool to the other, though, told me that the wound of
overachieving was still open. It also told me that by taking swim
lessons I might have the opportunity to further heal it.
Dan was more than a worthy teacher. In his decades of coaching, he’d
trained some of the best collegiate swimmers in the country, teaching
them how to efficiently glide through the water at maximum speed.
Swimming, it turns out, is highly paradoxical. Slicing through the
water quickly while preserving precious energy requires the
perfect muscular balance between laxity and tension. Swim with too much
effort and you’ll be gassed before the race is over. Make too little
effort and you’ll wallow in the water.
Dan called this razor’s edge of effort “easy speed.”
The feeling of easy speed has
returned to me on dry land. It has appeared at times as a welcome
companion amid uncertainty, preventing me from regressing into
well-worn, stressful habits.
After our brief chat, Dan jumped into the water and stood in front of
me in the shallow end. He grabbed my hands and stretched my arms out in
front of me, lightly moving them in a rhythmic freestyle motion so I
could feel easy speed in my body.
It was a mix of presence, physical ease, and mental relaxation. I knew from other experiences—absorbed concentration during meditation or flow while writing—that the feeling couldn’t be forced. But it could be felt, acknowledged, and trained.
A look of recognition must have registered on my face. Dan smiled. He
then explained that instead of ripping and tearing at the water, I
needed to extend my arms from my shoulders and reach toward an imaginary
pole in front of me that could pull me ahead one stroke at a time.
I made a few fumbling attempts. Dan told me to soften my hands and
loosen my fingers, spreading them like Japanese fans. Loose hands meant
water could slide more readily past me.
The lesson continued with Dan making numerous corrections and me
making numerous bids to embody them. My head was too high in the water. I
dropped my right hand before my left hand reached out in front of me.
It would be better if I rotated my torso more, and so on.
Dan, though, had me at starry nights. Midway through my lesson, I
held my hand up and with the kind of confidence only a recovering
overachiever can muster, I told him: “I think I’ve got it.”
I swam the length of the pool, letting my body fall into a state of
dynamic relaxation as I concentrated on one or two of Dan’s technical
notes. It felt as though I was swimming through peanut butter, barely
making headway across the pool. I missed my thrashing and the illusion
of control striving bestows.
But when I finished my lap, Dan enthusiastically said: “You won’t believe how fast you were motoring.”
In the swim lessons since my first, Dan has upped the ante, tethering
me to a bungee cord and forcing me to create easy speed against
resistance. Life, like swimming, doesn’t always go smoothly or as we
plan. So I saw the wisdom of training easy speed in the face of
And, in fact, the feeling of easy speed has returned to me on dry
land. It has appeared at times as a welcome companion amid uncertainty,
preventing me from regressing into well-worn, stressful habits. My
striving nature will likely always be a part of me. I’ve become far more
accepting of it. At times, I even appreciate it. It’s what drove me to
take a swim lesson in the first place. But maybe, sometime in the near
future, striving won’t be what propels me forward. Easy speed will be my
new set point.
Jump into the pool with Tonya Nascimento. Experience the rhythm of your
stroke, the comfort of the water holding you up, the rush of the water
past your ears, the craziness of hundreds of people swimming in circles
and spaced just so. Competitive swimmers, like all athletes, can benefit
from practicing in the moment.
Mindfulness is the practise of being fully
engaged in the present moment, pushing all other distractions to the
side as you focus on what you are doing right here and right now; making
the most of life and really living in the moment.
When we go for a dip in the wild world we
have the perfect opportunity to engage with ourselves in the present
moment. The water and the wildlife combine with the physical activity of
swimming to provide the perfect combination of factors to help
disengage with the frustrations of the past and the worries of the
future. By engaging with the following steps you can make the most of
your swim and be well on the path to zen.
As you travel to your swim savour the anticipation and make your
preparations and approach into a meaningful ritual. Think about why you
have chosen to swim and what steps you have taken to make space in your
day for this adventure. Think about your journey to the water and dwell a
moment on the water’s journey here – clouds, rock layers, rain, snow,
ocean currents, river channels…
As you get to your wild swim take your time and enjoy every sensation
as it develops. Take a moment to transition from your everyday self
into a mindful swimming god or goddess. As you shed your clothes, shed
the stresses and constraints those clothes may signify, peel off the
layers and get ready to leave it all behind. Focus on the sensations of
air on the skin and the earth between your toes. Think about how you are
feeling… you may feel excited or maybe you are anxious and
trepidatious, whatever the sensation they are beginning to displace the
distractions of everyday life and you haven’t even hit the water yet.
Before you set off on your swim stop on the edge of the water, close
your eyes and take a moment to breath. Breathing is one of the most
automatic of actions, life sustaining but often unnoticed; in-out,
in-out. Breathing control is fundamental to meditation and for swimming.
The first action of entering cold water is often to lose our breathing
rhythm, we tense up and our breathing becomes shallow and irregular,
sometimes we even forget to breath for a bit. Stand on the bank and
focus on keeping your breathing regular and even, in through the nose
and out through the mouth. As you breath try counting your breaths
one-in, two-out, three-in, four-out…. Be aware of the air flooding into
your body and expanding your chest.
As you relax into a steady breathing rhythm open your eyes and start
to get in the water. Try to maintain your breathing pattern as you lower
yourself in. Notice any tension around your diaphragm and chest and
try to keep all the breathing muscles relaxed, lengthen your neck, push
out your chest and allow the air to flow smoothly in to your lungs. Feel
the sensation of the water on your skin and wriggle your toes into the
ground to give yourself a good solid base. Wild swimming challenges the
body and the mind in ways we otherwise rarely experience, so start
slowly and enjoy every challenge as it presents itself. Feel every
sensation and log it away as a bright memory to be taken home and
cherished, to bring out and dwell on at the end of the day.
Once you have relaxed and found a calm rhythm in your breathing,
think about lifting your feet from the bottom, finding your buoyancy and
starting to swim. Continue to focus on your breathing. Feel the air
expanding your lungs as you breath in and bubbling though the water as
your breath out. Whatever your stroke, you need to find your rhythm to
get the most from your swim. Swimming strokes that flow smoothly and
rhythmically are the fastest and most energy efficient; they are also
essential to your mindfulness practice and to getting in the flow. If it
helps swim to the rhythm of a song. Let the beat dictate your breathing
and fit your arm stroke to your breathing and the leg cadence will take
care of itself. Enjoy the marriage of your breathing and the stroke
with the beat of the music. Stretch out and have fun, just go with the
After your swim is when you will really start to reap the rewards.
Positive feelings flood your system as the endorphins surge around your
body converting your pre-swim angst into post swim elation. Feelings of
well-being and positivity wash over you as you stretch out on the bank.
Focus on these emotions, try to keep them with you as long as possible,
but know that whenever you swim you will always leave the water feeling
better than you did when you arrived. Just knowing that those positive
feelings are only a dip away can be immensely reassuring.
The latest installment in an ongoing series of newly-released material from Terry Laughlin’s unpublished
The role of mindfulness is a
primary theme that underpins the Total Immersion approach to practicing
and teaching swimming, and was a significant influence on Terry’s work
over the years. Even when Terry was not overtly highlighting mindfulness
as the explicit focus, the importance of mindful attention was always
implicit in his nuanced exploration of the minute details in stroke
mechanics and the habits of deliberate practice (a topic discussed in last week’s blog). He recognized that the cultivation of mindfulness is a key element in the pursuit of mastery and excellence in any skill.
In addition to the obvious benefits
of improved stroke efficiency and faster swimming with more graceful
ease, Terry also grew to appreciate the salutary mental/emotional
effects of practicing mindful movement. In May of 2017 he contributed a
column entitled, “How to Be Mindful While Swimming,”
to the “Meditation for Real Life” series in the the N.Y. Times. A great
read, that short column focused on swimming as a moving meditation, and
gave pithy guidance for practicing present moment attention and sensory
awareness in swimming. However, it was an abridged and tightly-edited
version of a more expanded article. For clarity and brevity, much of his
original draft had to be cut from the final edit, including a useful
practice set with more details on technique points. This post, on
swimming mindfully with specific “stroke thoughts” (aka: focal points)
is the first publication of Terry’s original, unabridged article. Enjoy!
Swimming often devolves into
autopilot behavior in which you focus only on getting in the distance
you’ve planned, or “following the black line.” This is a lost
opportunity. Swimming with a targeted mental focus can also be an
immensely rewarding opportunity to practice mindfulness—and a proven way
to improve your efficiency. The average swimmer has an almost limitless
improvement upside. By swimming mindfully with specific Stroke
Thoughts, we can transform routine lap sessions into an immersive form
of moving meditation, and an unmatched method of continuous technique
Begin each practice with an intention to be fully present as you swim, consciously focused on improving your swimming, rather than just getting laps in. With this mindset of mastery, your goal is to be a better swimmer when you leave the pool.
Start with 4 x 25y/m freestyle repeats,
swimming normally. Count strokes on each 25– which itself is an
exercise in paying attention– and rate the overall quality of your
experience on a scale from 1 to 5 (1= unfocused; 5= deeply focused).
Then, swim a series of 4 to 8 x 25y/m
with each of the suggested Stroke Thoughts outlined below. As you begin
swimming, tune your sensory awareness by focusing on each individual
stroke. Notice the feeling of the wetness on your skin. Feel yourself —
buoyant — moving through water. During rest breaks, take
cleansing/centering breaths and continue “swimming mentally” by
visualizing your Stroke Thought.
Stroke Thought #1: Focus on your breath.
As you take breaths, shift your focus from a stroke rhythm to a
breathing rhythm, noticing the unbroken alternation of in-breaths and
out-breaths. How does your body accommodate to this rhythm? Notice
details from inhalation to exhalation, such as: frequency of breath
(e.g. bilateral breathing every 3 strokes vs. breathing every other
stroke on the same side), volume and rate of air exchanged (long, slow
breaths vs. short, fast breaths), and ratio of nose breathing to mouth
breathing. Observe how sustainable your breath management is for the
pace you’ve set. Do you exhale too fast and run out of air? Or
conversely, hold your breath, creating a buildup of CO2 in your lungs
and an unpleasant tightness in the chest? Experiment with different
variables as you aim to find a sustainable, steady breathing rhythm that
is comfortable for you.
Stroke Thought #2: Align head and spine.
Completely release the weight of your head to be supported by the
water. Head and spine should better align as a result. To reinforce,
visualize being towed forward by a line attached to the top of your
head, so your head-spine line is both lengthening and always moving in
the direction you want to travel.
Stroke Thought #3: Cut a Letter Slot.
As you continue with tuned sensory awareness of your stroke, focus on
the feel of your arms entering and exiting the water. Feel cool, dry air
on your arms briefly; then the wet thickness of the water for a longer
period of submersion. Enter your hand (closer to your shoulder than
normal) with fingers down to cut a slot (like the letter slot at the
post office) in the surface. Forearm should follow hand through that
slot. As you do this, observe the sound of your swimming– listen for
noise, hearing any splashes or bubbles. Strive to eliminate both. How
quietly can you swim?
Stroke Thought #4: Form Lines.
After your hand slides through the slot, reach it fully forward, then
line up that side of your body—fingertips to toes—behind the lead arm.
Continue stroking, forming right-and-left-side lines with each stroke.
Assess how long, straight, and sleek each line is. Notice how far your
arms are reaching in front of you and strive to feel “taller” and more
streamlined with each stroke.
Finish with 4 x 25. Choose your
favorite Stroke Thought—or a blend of two or more. On your final 25,
count strokes and rate the overall quality of your experience to compare
with your initial series. On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the
quality and consistency of your focus during this set? In a sentence,
can you articulate any change in the feel of your stroke?
As you complete your swim, be grateful for your ability to merge mind and body, moving like water.
Related blog posts on swimming and mindfulness: