One of the several reasons we chose to spend some time in Belize was to get my PADI dive certification, so Karl and I could dive together in the future. While I absolutely love the ocean, I am at the same time terrified of it. A large part has to do with not being a strong swimmer, having a fear of drowning, and having what felt like two near-death experiences surfing in the past. In my experience, the ocean is unpredictable. One moment it’s calm. The next moment waves are overhead. There’s a lot of unknown I cannot see or predict, and it can take me to places I did not intend to go.
I meditate often enough, with the main focus of meditation being on my breath. I can confidently say that I have never been more acutely aware of my breath than when I was diving. After a day of practicing underwater skills, I felt exhilarated. I could not figure out if it was the relief of surviving, the liberation of conquering fears, or being insanely aware of my breath. I also felt acutely aware of the act of perseverance. But it wasn’t the act of perseverance driven from my stubborn ego; it was a miraculous act of perseverance through finding compassion and acceptance for my own humanity.
There were many times I wanted to give up. I watched my mind as it returned to, “no, this isn’t for me; it’s too risky, too hard, too scary… I can’t.” But somehow I managed to let go of all the ways I was resisting. I let go of the urge to judge, and I gave myself permission to have my experience be okay just as it is. In the letting go I wound up diving deeper. It was there that I found compassion for the parts of me that fear death, learn slowly, and need to take things slowly. In time, I found myself improving my underwater diving skills with more efficiency, and doing things I never thought I could.
I am very grateful that I didn’t give up on scuba. I wouldn’t have have conquered several of my fears of the ocean that had stopped me from enjoying it’s treasures, and I wouldn’t have experienced how awesome scuba and snuba is. Often times the only way out is through, and the only way through is diving into the deep. The same can be true in relationship. When we can persevere and find compassion for our own humanity, it enables us to find compassion for other’s. In turn, our “diving” skills become more efficient, and a deepening of ‘relationship with’ is the treasure we find. I am reminded of a favorite quote:
“When in deep water, become a diver.” ~ Ralph Blum