Would you believe me if I told you that ten years ago, I was a chain smoker. I drank my fair share and took the least interest in what I was ingesting, so long as it had a good quantity of butter, sugar and caffeine. Which is all a bit strange because I lived my teenagehood as a dreadlock-sporting, health-conscious, non-smoking vegetarian treehugger. I guess my early and mid-twenties were just a big careless party where I lost sight of myself a little. Don’t get me wrong, it was freaking awesome and I regret nothing.
As the years passed however, I began living like a modern young adult, juggling several jobs alongside college and university while trying to maintain a semi-normal social life. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for stress to settle into my life. I’d get restless at night, planning the day ahead and be in a constant state of mild anxiety, just ever so slightly gasping for air most of the time. My skin broke out a lot and my back, neck and jaw muscles were in perpetual knots. On the surface I was cool as a cucumber, but my body was clearly going through a lot, absorbing all this negative energy.
As I started to drift towards my 30s, I became more aware of myself again. I quit smoking, got a gym membership, took on yoga and long distance running and became vegetarian – and eventually vegan. The impact on my wellbeing were almost immediate – my energy level went through the roof, I seldom got a cold and I just felt overall younger and fresher. That was the big shift for me and I soon became a health nut, supplementing all my green smoothies with maca, goji, lucuma, chlorella, E3 live and what have you, growing my own wheatgrass, washing with Dr. Bronners only, getting up early to be able to juice before work and eating solely organic. It was addictive: the more I took care of and nurtured my body, the more resilient it became and the more I could push it to its limit, juggling a university degree as a mature student with two demanding jobs and intense half marathon training, still feeling relatively fresh. I’d even find the time to hit the gym every other day, for good measure.
I felt powerful, but inside I was still dealing with a tremendous amount of stress. I was stuck in this whirlwind of school and work I had created for myself, and no amount of yoga or relaxation would put me to sleep. I was doing most things right to live a healthy lifestyle, but so long as I was holding on to this stress I would never reach optimum health. In a way, my healthful diet and regular exercising were a prop preventing stress from pinning me to the floor.
Fortunately, long-term travel has been helping me finding balance. I have been doing so much healing since I left Montreal in January. One thing travelling has taught me is to let go. Yeah, sometimes I eat deep-fried tofu twice in a day, I haven’t seen chia seeds or spirulina in over 10 months and I can count on my fingers the times I have been out for a run since this adventure started, but that’s ok, because I am taking good care of myself in a more holistic way: finding solace in daily yoga, scuba diving, the bounty of beautiful exotic fruit that surrounds me and, oddly enough, breath-holding exercises and free diving.
How odd is it that what really made me realize the control I have over my own state of mind occurred 15 meters under the sea with no air tank on my back – I’d been gasping for air for over ten years and there I was, the most peaceful I’d ever been, actually not breathing at all, sometimes for over a minute at a time. It was unexpected that something I took on as a dare with myself brought me so much calm and peace. Freediving can really teach you a thing or two about yourself! To my surprise, it taught me how relaxed, composed and stress-free I am able to be if I breathe correctly and free my mind right before I dive. And this is quite the metaphor for life in general, if you ask me.
I took a free diving class with Fusion Freediving and Yoga in Amed, Bali (more here) and it was possibly the most eye opening thing I have done in quite some time. I’m not going to lie, it was hard, challenging and, at times, frustrating, but the frustration came from my own internal battle with myself, which brought forth a lot of introspection.
Unlike other endeavours I have done, where I would just suck it up and pretend I am cool while there is a storm churning in my mind, pretending will get you nowhere in freediving. The only person you can impress, and your only opponent, is yourself. And freediving allowed me to conquer my mind like never before.
Thanks to the wonderful team at Fusion Freediving for snapping some of these shots!