I am floating, lightly gripping a thick line that descends into the blue void below me. Nearby are others. They are there to keep me safe.
I breathe facing downward into the water – through a snorkel. I begin to focus, feeling the vertebrae in my spine expand and contract with each breath.
Gradually, as they become objects to awareness, I release tensions in my body. At first these are obvious. Neck – holding my head slightly up from instinctive fear of water getting into the snorkel; no need – the water is calm, my head buoyant enough. My hand gripping the rope – no current – I let my arm circle it passively. Gradually deeper tensions make themselves known. Lower back, legs, feet, thighs. Slowing breaths move like waves through thin ice. Deeper – as the breath lights up tensions inside the body – emotions arise and evaporate into joyful stillness..wait a minute: A little too joyful..
I add a pause at the top and bottom of each breath to back away from the edge of hyperventilation. Return to the spine – something like exhilaration moves there as gentle waves release the outlines of body-sensation into the water. I am becoming transparent – thoughts, motives, goals, anticipation all flow through and beyond ‘me’. Shifting like oil on the surface, where I shall soon leave them.
Slowly my eyes open – they want a moment to focus – there is the line, the shifting play of light down into disappearing depths.
Just another relaxed breath – releasing anticipation before it crystallizes into physical tension.
Arms over my head, hands together, bend at the waist, bring the legs and fin up; let their weight drive me down.
The body; released into movement.
Starting with the arms a powerful undulation moves through; gaining force as it ripples down my spine, hips, thighs, knees and snaps out the blade of the monofin, driving me down. I release each part of the body after its active role in the movement – watching always for static, unneeded tension as I drive deeper.
Abiding in stillness.
Soon my lungs compress and I begin to sink. I slow the undulations – reducing amplitude and force until they are only small movements to keep me vertical in the fall.
The line going by, faster and faster; the sound of water whizzing by my ears.
My lungs and throat collapse – the feeling of being out of air, like an extreme exhalation – invokes intense anxiety.
Fear, panic; these things pass like faces in windows on a fast-moving train. If any of them stay the dive is over.
My lungs are empty
I am not the breath
Equalization: The greatest technical challenge as I pass 35 meters. Awareness contracts to a focus in throat, Eustachian tubes, mouth, nose, body alignment, the line. The line is my only visual referent in the darkening depth.
I am redefined
Grip the line.
Passively my body falls into alignment for the return to the surface.
to relish this deep place.
but then my mask would leak.
Carefully at first – because of the risk of straining chest and lungs.
And then, again…
Watching the line.
Feeling the wave,
and other divers.
My lungs expand
again the urge to smile.
The air in my mask – I draw a small breath from it.
Another diver appears, scrambling to turn and stay with me.
Watching my face intently.
I am buoyant now. The rest of the dive is a ride.
Awareness gathers as fullness, joy, laughter and ease.
I reach the surface and, in the brief moment of my first breath, I notice something about these people.
They each love this journey we make; all it’s moments complete.
The precision, focus and release it demands of us is a secret passageway.
Our gathering in this place; a definition of the Sanskrit word ‘Satsang’: