How to Be Mindful While Swimming

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Meditation for Real Life

“Swimming often devolves into autopilot behavior in which you focus only on getting in the distance you’ve planned, or ‘following the black line.’ This is a lost opportunity. Swimming can also be an immensely rewarding opportunity to practice mindfulness. By swimming mindfully, we can transform routine lap sessions into an immersive form of moving meditation.” — Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion Swimming.

Begin each swim with an intention to be fully present in the water, rather than to just get laps in.

As you begin swimming, focus on each stroke. Notice the feeling of the wetness on your skin. Feel yourself — buoyant — moving through water.

Focus on your breath. As you take breaths, shift your focus from a stroke rhythm to a breathing rhythm, noticing the unbroken alternation of in-breaths and out-breaths. How does your body accommodate to this rhythm?

Align head and spine. Visualize being towed forward by a line attached to the top of your head, so your head and spine are both lengthening and always moving in the direction you want to travel.

As you continue with your strokes, focus on the feeling of your arms entering and leaving the water. Feel the cool, dry air on your arms briefly; then the wet thickness of the water for a longer period of submersion.

Listen to the sounds of swimming. Hear the splashes, the bubbles and your own breath. How quietly can you swim?

Continue your strokes, noticing how far your arms are reaching in front of you, striving to feel “taller” with each stroke.

As you complete your swim, be grateful for your ability to merge mind and body, moving like water.