I had a mini break through last night while continuing to learn proper freestyle swimming. During my previous five attempts or so I found myself gasping for breath during each sideways inhale. Rationally I convinced myself I needed to fill up my lungs to their fullest capacity each time in order to complete three solid strokes before turning my head to the opposite direction and once again opening my mouth as wide as possible to gulp in a full breath of air. This was fraught on many levels. First, the wide panic of my open mouth often consumed not just new air but sea water as well. Also, the undercurrent of panic is never a good energy to have while trying to learn something new. And finally, the repetitive gasping for BIG breaths of air made the entire attempt quite exhausting and I couldn’t make it one full ocean pool length before needing to stop and properly capture my breath.
Last night was different. As I entered the pool I seemed to make it one full length with relative ease. Only after I reached the wall did I think about what I had done differently. Since my chest wasn’t heaving like a fish out of water, I could see that instead of gasping for the fullest breath possible down the lane, I had simply taken a breath after every 3rd stroke. There wasn’t anything remarkable about each breath, only that they delivered the right amount of oxygen to my lungs during each cycle.
Somehow, intuitively, I gave up the struggle and found ease in its place.
Perhaps when life feels hard . . . it shouldn’t be. Maybe we’re just pushing in the wrong direction or simply applying too much force. In yoga they teach the interplay and awareness between effort and grace. Last night I had a small glimpse of that and JOY definitely followed.