Meditation: How swimming laps is like doing a psychic reading

Swimming LapsThe other day when swimming my mind wandered as it sometimes does.  Usually I don’t let it drift far.  Actually, I can’t if I’m going to keep track of my lap number and time.  I wear a watch and check my time after every 24 laps.  I stop at the end of every 600 and check my watch, sometimes take my pulse and have a sip of water.  The stopwatch feature on my watch announces if I’m improving my speed and my pulse lets me know if I’m working hard enough.  Point is that I have my method and routine that requires that I maintain focus throughout the time I’m swimming, which is usually 45 minutes since I swim a mile on most days.

Key words in the above paragraph are ‘maintain focus’–swimming is a meditation!  That’s what meditation is after all, a focused concentration.  When I swim, every 30 seconds or so I flip around and swim the other direction when coming to the wall and the end of the lane.  Last summer, at the start of my lap swimming (I’m new to it),  I’d  loose track of my count.  A good deal of my focus went elsewhere much of the time–on trying not to swallow half the pool and getting enough air!

Once comfortable in that environment–learning the protocol, becoming familiar with the lifeguards, and even the minor social half-smile’s and nods to the other regular swimmers–I was able to concentrate better on what I was actually doing there!  Yet the other day, I became distracted by the two male swimmers in the lanes next to me.  This is rare because I’m happily in my own world and besides I already know that I’m a slow swimmer compared to the muscular young triathlete type men who also frequent the swim lanes.

I began to hit the wall nearly the same time as the fast swimmer next to me and I wondered if I was almost keeping up with him–yeah, my mind began wandering and I’d have to pull it back to my breath and my lap count frequently.  Turns out the guy was swimming nearly 2 laps to my one (believe it or not) but I had no business whatsoever comparing myself to another swimmer in the first place!

There’s no quicker way to loose focus an concentration and deflate the spirit than to compare yourself to someone else!  Swim your own swim and play your own game, best you can especially when you need to stay focused.  But then, isn’t that always?

I say that to the psychic class members in the class that I teach–comparing yourself to others is death to the spirit!

I know someone who is highly competitive and reading this may disagree; I suppose we all do life differently.

Yet, I feel that a little competitiveness can to a long way; probably a strange thing to say on the first day of the Olympics in Russia.  But I’d guess even  competitors of the 2014 Winter Olympics would agree that when it comes right down to it they are competing with themselves to stay focused, maintain concentration, play their own game (maybe team sport is an exception) and not let what the person in the next lane is doing distract them from that.

Maybe I’m wrong about that–I’ve never been much of a competitor so don’t have a good deal of personal experience; my topic here is holding focus and concentration and not allowing the mind to wander by speculating, comparing, contrasting and just plain thinking, thereby taking one’s self totally out of the moment.

Mental discipline!  Minding the mind!  Minding the mental store, so-to-speak.  That’s how swimming laps can be a meditation… about 45 minutes worth.

A mile swim in a 25 yard pool is 66 laps or 33 laps if you count each out-and-back as one.

Most of the readings that I do are about an hour too and I can’t let my mind wander then either.

Yeah, that’s how swimming laps is like doing a psychic reading.

Swim Meditation – Laps with Spirit Guides?

Sun Light

Labored breathing.  Right effort.  Quickened heartbeat.  Mine.  Arms, legs, head moving, pushing, pulling in rhythm with air exchange.  Water supports yet provides resistance while embracing, engulfing and surrounding the body.  The lane—all mine.  It is my sanctuary, my temporary escape.  Me and the water that surrounds me–simplicity.  The water is dependably fluid and alive, willing to work in harmony with my efforts.

There’s only limited human activity at this place—only certain other humans come and go here.  Relatively few—practically none if we compare to the nearby Interstate Highway.  Those few others… we share this liquid refuge containing loud overhead fans which do not support human conversation—other swimmers only nod if there even is an exchange at all.  That’s fine with me.  Lifeguards watch over but do not otherwise interfere.   They, too, seem lost in their own inner world; meditating in their own way I suppose.   I like that about this place; every human consumed with their own workout concentration—each in their own thought.  A sanctuary, a haven, a retreat, refuge.  I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Pool Sangha.

The roof and walls here protect from too much sun during the summer months and in winter shelter from the cold.

Unique.  Enchanting.  Sacred. Magical. It wasn’t there when I started my swim—I’m sure I would have noticed that source of light and warmth on such a cold day.  But as I lifted my head to turn back to swim the next lap, I noticed something for the very first time.   High windows of thick glass harmonized with the late afternoon’s solar rays, translating them to multiple balls of white light catching my eyes and uplifting my heart.  Oh, it was like Light Beings were looking in on my swim.  Spirit Guides?  Archangel Michael?   I drew them into myself as I smiled and pushed off the wall strong with my legs to attack the next lap all the while secretly smiling at the enchantment of it all.

After every 600 yards, my custom is to stop and check my lap times, quickly take a 6 second pulse to see if I am within my target heart range and grab a sip of water.  Those small breaks were made so enjoyable as I turned toward the window and the many balls of light and rays that the pattern in the thick glass made of Father Sun.

I thought of the life and experiences of the world of fish and other sea life between my counting of my laps as I finished my swim.  If I’m completely honest, I fancy that I was once a fish.  Am I pretending or is it a memory?  Many times I wish that I could stay under water, could develop fins to breathe and swim in the ocean.  I love the silent world of the underwater.  If the chlorine wasn’t irritating my nose and if my fingers and toes didn’t start to wrinkle, I’d not want to get out at all.

I love this social circle of lap swimmers; perhaps all like me—loners.  There’s a mutual respect, a secret knowing that we are all the same in some way.   We choose the silence that immersing in water for an hour or some part of it can provide.

Some days my mind wanders and I’m suddenly uncertain what lap I’ve just completed, loosing count and my pace suffers as I try to figure that out.  Other days, I’m aware of each stroke and how well I reached out, how consistent my kicks were and I know exactly what lap I’m on.  It is about awareness, being fully present, fully awake, fully alive—heart beating, labored, right effort, quick breath, rhythmic movement supported by water which also provides resistance. Life Itself.  As I reach the wall, the balls of light smile at me as Sun filters through the high window and I turn to swim another lap.

Blowing Your Spiritual Cover and Personal Integrity September 5, 2013 Daily Divination

10 of PentaclesAwareness—it’s awesome realizations; yet, because we are aware and realize something about ourselves doesn’t mean we have reached full enlightenment—it means we are aware of the path.  And excuse me if you are already fully enlightened but most of us go day-by-day doing the best we can, often reacting to life before, knowing we’re reacting.  But that’s okay or at least Pema Chodron says so.

Her recommendation is to say, “May this person who is driving me crazy enjoy happiness and be free of suffering” even though at the time what we are experiencing is genuine anger.  It always makes me feel sheepish when I remind myself that it is self-cherishing that is the root of my problem—that usually puts the fires of anger and frustration out easily.  And then I want to kick myself for reacting to a strong aversion in the first place.

We have our limits as humans it seems.  We can open to some people, but we remain closed to others—the ones who irritate us.

Awareness is seeing this clearly and realizing firsthand that as humans we are, as Pema says, “…a paradoxical bundle of rich potential that consists of both neurosis and wisdom.”

The thing is that we must acknowledge where we are and what we feel—it is so inauthentic and psychologically damaging (in my humble opinion) to pretend to feel anything that we don’t.

I can seem to feel more love, empathy and compassion for my daughter’s cats than I can for my downstairs neighbors!  I tried to muster up those feelings that I have for those animals and then transfer that same feeling to my irritating neighbors—no can do!  I just can’t seem to put these irritating people in the same place in my heart as the beautiful animals that I so love—I had to toss them right out.  I will keep trying and will let you know how it goes.

I am closed off there and need to keep working at it to open up and resolve my aversions—that’s what awareness can mean.  Oh, yeah, I try to tell myself that they are just like me and like the Dalai Lama says, we are all seeking happiness.  It’s just that their version of happiness and mine are apparently in dire contrast and opposition; perhaps it’s cultural but then again “when in Rome” as the saying goes.

I realize this is more aversion to humans and the epitome of resistance to them but I was thinking that I’ve got to start incorporating flip turns into my swimming routine.  Talk about human in your face!  When I got to the pool yesterday all the lanes were free, but for one.  I selected the last lane and started my swim.  About 20 minutes into my swim as I reached the wall to initiate my turn, there it was!

A man’s face in front of my own, asking to swim in my lane with me; all of the other lanes were filled with men and maybe he felt it was easier to ask a woman—who knows his motives? And who cares? But I felt immediate aversion to having to share my lane—why me?  He didn’t swim long but I realize that I have a lot of work to do in that area also; it’s just that (watch me try to justify my aversion now) when I swim it is like a meditation and one really would rather not be interrupted.  But that’s life—it’s what happens to us while we’re doing our own thing; human interference.  I’ve got to learn to be better at sharing my sacred spaces with other humans I guess…. Well, obviously.  I don’t like feeling irritated and would rather be happy and peaceful—that requires getting over my ego and self-cherishing!

I think to write about it and how these humans get under my skin so-to-speak is blowing my cover!  I’m human too and we all have an ego with aversions and attractions—when I lived in the mountains alone I could, for the most part, pretend that I wasn’t one of them!  Ha ha.

Well, humor is a gift from the Angels that helps us cope here.

Today, I will ask the Angels of Laughter to hang 10 with me through the ocean of life… or at least through my apartment living and my lap swimming at the pool.  I hit my toe on the side of the metal filing cabinet this morning as I made my way to my desk with my first cup of coffee while at the same time feeling resentful for being awakened by neighbor’s voices!

It’s a beautiful sunny day and we started out in the high 60’s, low 70’s this morning.  I made good progress on the project I’m creating for my daughter’s wedding gift and still wish that I could be half as artistic as my middle daughter (not the one getting married).  My middle child draws beautifully freehand and oh how I admire her ability to do that!

I just opened a desk drawer and the fragrance of Nag Champa incense cones (that I forgot I had) greeted me (I love Nag Champa) and may today be filled with such continued pleasant surprised for everyone!

DAILY DIVINATION SEPTEMBER 5, 2013 – TEN OF PENTACLES TAROT CARD

This card makes me think of the 11th House in Astrology, relating to the community.  I think of it too as “growing roots” in the community and creating a stable and comfortable environment. The 10 of Pentacles deals with the domestic life and living life upon the earth and represents “the good life”.  The deep connection to The Universe exists within the ordinary life—through this card I am reminded that the troubles and miseries that occupy many human minds (my own included) are only a play and the community plays a role for us in presenting that which we must free ourselves.

As I finished that last sentence a hummingbird was flying a holding pattern within a few feet of my laptop just on the other side of the glass door, looking at me directly.  Reminds me to be joyful and to find the nectar of life and drink heartily from that fountain.  Hummingbirds are symbolic for accomplishing that which seems impossible.

May you always feel encouraged!