Freediving Is the Lung-Crushing, Mind-Altering Path to Inner Peace

Two and half millennia after the Buddha and we are still trying to hold our breath to get peace! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Freedivers—a slightly mental group of thrill-­seekers who focus on holding their breath while descending into the open sea—have figured out how to stay underwater for 3, 4, or 5 minutes at a time. They say the key to the sport is to relax, that humans can override the urge to breathe underwater by learning to embody the energy that flows throughout the universe. They say you can stay under­water for minutes even after the first contractions of the diaphragm.
The payoff for this seemingly crazy stunt, I’m told, is a euphoria unlike any other. Freedivers talk among themselves of being addicted to the sport. The body and mind are altered. Surface cares dissolve, replaced by a profound immersion in the present.
At 2:30, my arms start to quiver, and my head feels lighter, squeezed harder. The contractions are coming faster and stronger.
I pull back up the rope and feel a new reserve of air. My lungs and sinuses enlarge, giving me the sensation of being inflated with pure oxygen. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to that famous euphoria. And I don’t even know how deep I went. I pop up out of the water, catch my breath, and look at my watch: 2 minutes and 57 seconds. A personal best.


I recall a couple of years ago watching a BBC documentary series on the brain. One episode included a segment on free solo climber, Dean Potter:

As I watched I thought, “hmmn, I think I’m going to stick with the Buddha’s method”.


There are physiological impacts on the body - the “mammalian diving response”, the total embrace and whole body sense of pressure – I’d describe it as a comforting embrace – on the body. The sense of pressure on many points of the body has been found to be calming such that it is used as a form of self-administered therapy. Sometimes when sitting I’d like to go out and do it at the bottom of a pool, or better yet holding onto corral about 3 to 6 meters down in a warm tropical ocean.

I love doing it but there is a risk of passing out. Not the thing to risk in the water when one is alone.
(I understand there are means of self rescue available which use a ‘dead man’ switch. Like a life vest that will inflate if you let go of a button.)

One attraction of the Buddha’s practice was the possibility of something like it but anywhere on land or sea.

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