The healing power of swimming

16/03/2013 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Exercise, Happiness, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 5 Comments
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WaterA few days ago I went back to my local pool after a long absence. As I glided through the water, reflections of blue sky danced over the surface. I could feel myself relaxing, letting the water support me. And I remembered the joy of swimming.

We know that water can be kind to the human body: whatever the level of fitness, water provides a small but significant resistance that increases the overall benefit.

Less talked about, it does something equally interesting to the psyche: it connects us an earlier, more aquatic stage of life: the womb… and even, more distantly, our evolutionary past.

When I am in water, I feel different. The hard angular surfaces of modern life give way to a fluid world in which I feel safe, held, and simply more inclined to go with the flow. There is something inherently fun about the experience, and I feel zingy and cleansed.

As I swam, I started an internal chant, and this is how it went:

“I am beautiful… I am one… I am beautiful”… I am one…”

Each phrase corresponded to a swimming stroke. When I reached the end of the pool and turned around, the chant had become: “I am beautiful… I am two… I am beautiful… I am two…”

With each new length, the number went up. I was counting lengths, and throwing in an affirmation too.

And then I realized I was actually imagining myself at the age of one, two, and so on. Not only that, I was feeling the dominant emotions of that age, in connection with beauty and self-worth. As I continued to swim up and down the pool, the happy self-belief of young childhood gave way to the huge, wobbly uncertainty of my teens, and a growing feeling of confidence in adulthood. As I remembered sad times, it felt as though the water was washing the pain away.

Effectively, I was healing each stage of my life’s journey with the help of water, and affirmations. My adult self was sending love and support back through the years to all my younger selves who were still there, it seemed to me, in the memories held within my body. The process felt deeply restorative and I recommend it to you.

Next time you’re in the pool, you might like to affirm “I am beautiful… I am one” and so on, all the way through your teens, twenties – all the way up to your present age. You can spread the exercise over more than one swim session, if you choose. But when you have swum a length for every year you’ve lived, you can start all over again with a new word. “I am strong”, and “I am well” both have great healing potential. What affirmation would you choose?

Easter and the Goddess of Dawn

09/04/2012 at 11:42 am | Posted in Happiness, Nature, Wellbeing | 2 Comments
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Easter comes from the Goddess of Dawn.

Look beneath any festival and you will find simple truths about people and our planet. Easter is a great example of this. The word ‘Easter’ is a variant of ‘east’, the direction in which the sun rises at dawn.

The word has ancient roots in the seed language known as Proto-Indo-European. The original word, ‘aus’, or ‘austre’ meant ‘to shine’, particularly at dawn. It was personified in early Europe as Austron or Eostre, the goddess of spring, fertility and the rising sun. Her festival was the Spring Equinox, that time between the shortest and longest days, which heralded the beginning of the all-important growing season.The changing seasonal cycle as we journey around the sun is more important to us than our mechanised lives reveal. But beneath the confusion of 21st century timetables, our bodies still respond to the longer days of sunlight in basic ways that haven’t changed since life emerged on the planet.

We absolutely take pleasure in the new life that is around at this time, and within us ideas that were incubating over winter begin to take on real life. What does this year mean to you? What are you beginning to achieve in terms of your own self-development? This is a good time to be aware that Eostre, the Goddess of Dawn, is an archetypal force in you that is driving you towards summer and the fruitation of your hopes and dreams.

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