We were fortunate to visit Cabo San Lucas again this year. Besides doing a lot of fishing, we went snorkeling for two days. Since I had a lasik procedure a few years ago, I really enjoy putting on the mask and viewing all of the beautiful fish. Putting on and breathing through the snorkel on the other hand, is a challenge. Even at my advanced age, I am still a novice swimmer. I have the tendency to float a few feet under the surface and coordinating breathing while moving is still a challenge. Gratefully the salt water in the Sea of Cortez helps with my buoyancy so there is just that breathing thing to deal with.
No matter, I jump in. Once I relax and concentrate on my breathing, I get into an easy rhythm and head from the boat to the reef. I enjoy seeing a fish or two as I glide through the water while I anticipate seeing all the gorgeous fish we saw at the reef the day before. But today the water is a little rougher, the waves a little higher. One swell over takes my snorkel and sends salt water into my mouth. I cough, choke, and pull off the snorkel. I am floating ok until I look around and don’t see my husband. He knows I am an inexperienced swimmer and usually sticks around in case I need help. I look toward the reef and don’t see him. I look toward the boat and don’t see him. I look out toward the horizon and don’t see him. I panic. My breathing becomes short and erratic. Because of this, my buoyancy begins to lessen. I panic more. Realizing I float better while snorkeling and controlling my breathing, I put on my mask and continue to head toward the reef all the while wondering why my husband has seemingly abandoned me.
After a bit, I once again rise above the surface. Again I look to the sea, the reef, and the boat with no husband in sight. Again I begin to panic, breathing poorly, and start to sink. More panic this time. Then it hits me. I turn toward the shore. There, only a few feet from me, is my husband, my touchstone, my safety net. I laugh at my stupidity and the deep guffaw fills my lungs with extra oxygen floating me safely above the waterline.
The next time you feel fear, panic, or anxiety, check your breathing. Is it short, quick, and high up in your chest? See if you can redirect your breathing down to your belly button. Slow deep breaths fully expanding your abdomen then gently releasing all the air in the same slow steady rhythm. What does changing your breathing do for your thinking? Do to your fear? Do you experience clarity and calm? Does your panic lessen? Are you better able to address the issue at hand? Our bodies react to our emotional states, but we can also consciously change our bodies therefore also changing our emotional state. Next time your emotions are out of control, try reversing your body’s reaction to those emotions and see if you can reverse your emotions as well.