If you haven’t been scuba diving before, the idea of strapping on a 20kg tank, masking up, and plunging into an unknown world many metres below the waves might seem anything but calming. However, one of the first things about diving that people often discover on their first foray below the surface is that it can be a profoundly serene and meditative experience – often more so than anything you can do on land. In truth, scuba experiences are as worthy an inclusion on a wellbeing charter as they are on an adventure trip.
For many divers – among them Alexis Vincent, founder of luxury scuba concierge service Dive Butler – time under the sea can be one of the most effective ways of alleviating the stresses of everyday life. “I call it instant meditation,” he says. “The minute you go under water, you are fully 100% present. You forget about all your worries; you are connected to your environment. You can truly be there, in the moment.”
Diving, therefore, has more in common with practices such as yoga than many people would realise. In particular, the role of breath is of paramount importance. In fact many breath-work techniques are employed in both disciplines, and one of the first things that Alexis will teach his clients is how to breathe when they’re in the sea – not only because it helps them below the surface, but because it provides lasting benefits above it, too. Most people don’t breathe properly, using only around 40% of their lung capacity. Given than breathing plays an important role in regulating emotion, this means that they are ill-equipped to deal with things like stress and anxiety. When we know how to control our breathing, however, we have the tools necessary to deal more effectively with whatever life might throw at us.
“Diving gives us a way to help people to breathe properly,” Alexis explains. “Once they learn how to breath properly underwater, they also have a skill set to deal with life. When you’re reacting to stress, if you take 5, 10 deep breaths and just close your eyes and connect with yourself and how you’re feeling in your body, then you can tap into a different level where you’re not just reacting, but you’re thoughtfully addressing a stressful situation. Through breath, we can manage our emotions.”
Alongside, the influence of the breath, the reason why diving can be such a mindful, centring experience is largely to do with the sensory changes involved. Nothing is the same underwater; light moves differently through liquid; the colour spectrum shifts into otherworldly greens and blues; and you become acutely aware of a deep and startling silence all around. You are instantly transported to a completely different world, irresistibly connected to the present moment – it’s no wonder that your perspective shifts in the process.
On top of that, there’s the freedom from gravity. Floating under the sea makes you deeply aware of your body and the position of your limbs, opening up a completely new way of moving. As Alexis sees it, this is liberating: “It’s multidimensional, you can move up and down – it’s like flying. It’s as close as you can get to being an astronaut. It is another world. It’s like nothing on earth.”
Under the sea, you float in the silence, connected to yourself and your surroundings in ways that are almost impossible to replicate above the surface. This, for people like Alexis, is what can turn diving into an addiction. Not the sense of adventure, the thrill of risk, or the possibility of seeing an array of strange and extraordinary creatures, but the phenomenal feeling of weightlessness and tranquillity that comes over you mentally and physically when you dive. For Alexis, diving can be a transcendental experience: “There is this amazing peace that you can connect to – this energy you can tap into – that – once you are receptive and have let go of your original fears – is quite transformative. It has the power to change lives, dramatically.”
Yomira arranges personalised diving experiences and onboard diving tuition with Dive Butler for yacht charters all over the world – just get in touch.