I Made It!

eli5On 31 March 2018 I Made the dive to 64 Meters and broke the South African’s woman’s record which had been held by Hanli Prinsloo for the last 8 years!   This competition was quite challenging for me.  I had only returned to Bali a month before to train, and I was still not adapted to the change in Temperature at around 30 meters down.  The mono-fin was also quite a new ‘discipline’ to me and this training period was my first I was taking it below 30 meters!  Needless to say I was very very stoked!

Competing is a little different to making record attempts.  Unlike record attempts you don’t get to choose the date or time or right conditions, if there is current for your dive then that’s just what it’s going to be.  There is a count dive to dive, and if you don’t make the dive then, there are no second chances.  The environment can feel extremely stressful for some.  For me it’s a good chance to practice detachment to the external environment and to go completely inside.

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Mind Over Matter

Victory is sweetest. On the first day of the competition I failed to reach a 55 meter mark in FIM turning early at 48. It was my first yellow card in competition, this being my third competition and it wasn’t even a record attempt. I felt really disappointed in myself, but instead of loathing I chose my next move I knew it would have to be something big and because in points I would have lost already if things carried on this way, I had nothing to lose. I focused all my mind and energy onto this cwt goal. This is the discipline I have been most focused on in training for the last 3 weeks as the monofin is a new skill to me and the depth not yet realized I knew it was about sheer will and determination that was going to get me there, a pb by 4 meters.
My body is adapted to depth though through RV training and Free Immersion with a pb of 62 Meters. The night before day 2, the CNF dive I was dreaming about my monofin dive, I woke 3 times during the night to recall the dive, to visualize and practice it in my mind. After the CNF on day 2 I came home and meditated and visualized over and over. I told myself you will reach that plate because you are strong enough and you have already been there! 💪
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On the morning of the dive as I drove to the site I stopped and looked to the sky I asked my friends above who believed in me, Tony, Kieron, Gran, Stephanie and even Natalia, the greatest freediver who ever lived!. “I said please be with me today!” Super nervous getting changed but as I hit the water some calm subsided. I thanked the ocean, our mammal friends 🐋🐬, I felt unconditional love 💙 for this environment that feels more home to me than any place on ground earth 🌍. As I prepared. For the dive I said ‘I will’ ‘I can’ ‘I am’. My problem with deeper dives here has been the thermocline starting at around 40.
But I kept my mouthfill, I kept focus on this area, it was almost completely gone as I reached the plate, however my ears were still pressurized so I did not have to force anything. I lost most of it somewhere around 45 or 50 when the temp dropped from 30 at the surface to 24 degrees, not huge thermo but still new to me. At the bottom plate I looked and felt to one empty side and so had to move around it to grab a tag from the other side in the process I got tangled in the lanyard, immediately I pulled the Velcro strap from my wrist and unscrambled, bringing it around my back and infront again, skills I have learnt from previous entanglements, lanyard still attached to line I brought it up with me. I reached the surface and it was declared victory! �️🇿🇦🎖️

Thank you to my coaches and inspirations along the way. Your approaches helped me to gain confidence in what is possible and achievable Marc Anop Gletwyn Rubidge Alenka Artnik Jonathan Sunnex Sophia van Coller Julia Mouce Dominguez Joan CapdevilaRicardo Montans 💙💙💙💙💙thank you for the photos amazing Elianne Dipp ❤️

 

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THE LINK BETWEEN YOGA AND FREEDIVING

Breathless Expeditions yoga freediving

SA RECORDS ALL IN ONE PLACE

SA Freediving Records

 

 

Training in Bali

Sooooo Good to be back in these Beautiful Waters! Bali, Tulamben, Amed, it’s a magical place and feels like it’s where it all began for me, although I started freediving in Thailand, to me this is more like my freediving home, because it is here in Bali that I started a master Training with Apnea Bali and here where my sinus issues cleared, and I was able to dive happy and confidently.

Apnea Bali
Signature wall mural @ Apnea Bali, Tulamben

 

 

Bali Return

2 March 2018  Yesterday we arrived back into Bali, it’s been a 15 Month window of continuous adventures since we left.  Coming back to what feels more home than any of the places I have visited in the last 15 months but with new perspective.

Letting our tastebuds catch up with our favorite meal at Galanga, in a sweet tropical garden where we sit on the ground of a small bamboo raised pagoda.  We had Asian Noodle salad with Tempe and a Vegetarian burger with Sweet potato fries, the food is super exotic and tasty, it’s not just a veggie burger, it’s a veggie/tempe explode in your mouth with awesomeness burger. I missed the Tempe the most being away, so all my meals for the first few days are going to be based around this delicious fermented soy bean crispy delight.  Sounds not so appetizing? Try that burger and come back to me on that.

It’s amazing how your brain brings your body back to the same sensations when you bring yourself back to same places and experiences.  Driving to Apnea Bali in Tulamben, the rice paddies, the market stalls in the big intersection leading out of Amed.  Then the 10-20 minute commute from Amed to Tulamben, the green hills, the ocean to the right of us.  The huge and mighty Mt. Agung Volcano which was threatening to explode months before our arrival, clouds above it looking questionable.  Then in the water in Tulamben, it’s as though my mind and body remembers all the relaxed calm sensations I felt here and although we only arrived yesterday I had extremely calm and pleasant sensation dives only.  Making two warms ups over 2 minutes and then 3 consecutive dives to 40 Meters.  Bali water is warm and welcoming.  The Apnea Bali Depth Competition stars 29 March 2018 and runs for just 3 days.  There are a limited number of competitors, keeping things small, but there are some big names already.  One diver is Davide Carrera the Italian Champion has dived to 114 M in Constant Weight.  I felt very safe today having him as my safety 🙂   There are good vibes all around and we are super stoked to be back in the beautiful Bali waters 🙂

FreeDiving the Cenotes of Mexico

Crystalline and Escondido                                                                 Buy one, get one free!  Crystalline is like a round pond, you may find 7 – 8 Meters perhaps.  So it’s not very deep.  There is an overhang and a cavern network so you wil find scuba divers here and you can venture into the cave a bit on one breath.  But it gets blacker the deeper you go.  Crystalline has a fun jumping platform, and beautiful shaded garden surrounding.  It’s great for hanging out, swimming, taking some bubbly photos….and the best thing is that the cenote just across the road is included in the visit price._IK20234

Escondido is a great cenote for dynamic training and for having a heap of fun enjoying swim throughs and taking photos, you can even get a little deep into the mangroves here and get some unique backdrop for your shotsDCIM101GOPROGOPR1343.JPG

One of my favorites Cenotes is Casa Cenote.   Casa to me is like a magical mystical faerie waterworld, where from below you can see clearly above the mangrove roots and trees.  Where sunlight pierces through the branches to kiss the white sand and pure crystal clear water.  The entrance to the cenote is just across a gravel road from the beach.  There’s an awesome little donning station on the rocks to don your scuba or freediving gear…Great for Open water and DSD Students.  Whether exploring the Cenote on one breath or taking your OW students here is a great simulation of an OW dive.  There is slight current running from Sea side towards the rest of the Cenote.  So swimming against the tide and then cruising back with it to the Exit/Entrance is great.   On entering the Cenote there is a shallow pond/pool like section which you can practice skills.  Then a swim around 30-40 Meters until you turn to the right.  A beautiful mangrove tunnel like swim leads to a new enchanted solo little croc inhabited area.  Look up where ever you are in this Cenote the View is spectacular.DCIM101GOPROGOPR0792.JPG

Car Wash Cenote makes a great backdrop for underwater photos with the long stemmed lilies creating a subtle classiness to the cool blue water.  It’s a shallow cenote, around 5 meters max in depth.  However you can explore deeper into the overhangs leading to the cavernous system which scuba divers and tech divers frequently venture into.

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Freediving

The Moment that you can feel your heart beating, you begin to let go of logic and move into just feeling.  You feel how close you are to nothingness and to everything when it slows and you begin to merge with your surroundings.  Then you find peace, then you find true stillness.  The pulsating of your being as it becomes One Unified with all and with nothingness.

It started on a sunny day, that turned to cloud, then rain, then rainbow, then Sun again.  It whispered to her, “I am your mystery”  Her heart expanded beyond the horizon.  She found it, she found not the answer, but she found the place to seek the answer.  Just when you think the search has ended.  The search has just begun.

 

Vipassana India, Kolhapur

A smiling, positive and approachable man with a slight business edge named Luv collects me from Agonda at around 8 am, we head towards Kolhapur where the Vipassana centre is, via North Goa to pick up the other 2 meditators joining the ride. I feel like it’s begun already, the mind with all it’s questions, why am I doing this again? I’m leaving the beach, amazing food and physical asana and exercise for what? I will sit for 10 days in silence and meditate. Vipassana. The mind wants to resist all of the unfamiliar. But I’m already sitting and already starting to feel the still. Taking myself out of the familiar in order to do some deep meditative work. I have intentions but like any deep spiritual work, the attachments to outcomes must go, the soul will take what it needs, we have no control.

We arrive

Welcome to meditation prison, a white painted metal-gated reception area and haze of noisy Russian students registering is what greets us.
Hand in your phone, all your valuables, money, ipad, and passport. Once you are in you cannot come out. For 10 days you must observe silence, no eye contact with any of the other 70 meditators, no communication. A light breakfast at 0630 is served, lunch the main meal of the day is at 11 am and snack at 5pm is served. I learn how to feel empty and light. No special requests for food will be taken, 11 hours of meditation a day, no talking, and no thinking.

Only I do think, for the first 2 days that’s all I do my mind is exploding, what will I do when this is over, where will I go, what will be my first indulgence when I am out of Vipassana, where will I go after India, what happened in the past, what did he say, she say, I say, oh and back to planning and imagining the future again. I cannot control my thoughts and this method of meditation is new to me, it is challenging. Before I would use a mantra, key words to calm the mind down. It gave my mind focus as the words So & Ham would overwrite every thought. Now with only breath awareness for the first days my mind keeps returning to my thoughts. How do I stop this? Past, future, recalling, Imagining. How do we control that which in a paradox is actually controlling our lives.

The third day brings new hope. We focus on the sensations in the triangular part of our face, starting at the top of the nose and running down the sides to the line of the top lip. This I can work with. Feeling sensations in my body is nothing new to me, I practice this awareness during asana practice, whether it’s yin or a more vigorous Vinyasa flow and I practice when I freedive, it’s a trusted relaxation technique.

This method of meditation brings more comfort to me, and I find it easier to focus my mind as I link the breath to feeling. On the 4th day we start to practice the full vipassana meditation technique which is to scan the body from head to toe feeling each and every sensation as we pass our awareness on each body part.
The reason for this is to become aware of our changing sensations, and whether favorable or not our job is to remain equinomous to each and every sensation which we experience.
After a few days the method becomes monotonous and uncomfortable for me as the mind becomes bored and wants to run free again. Sitting for so many hours is especially uncomfortable, as I am not exercising nearly as much as what I am used to and my body feels stiff and lethargic.
But the method is practical and I’m discovering new truths about life and the involvement of others.
When ever anything happens in our life our body reacts to it and a certain kind of sensation takes place, whether we are aware or not. The sensation will be different to every body and is based on previous habit, conditioning, childhood, experience, samskara or karma. We react to the sensations experienced in our body, whether we are aware or not.
If we become fully aware of our sensations and choose not to react as we normally would then we can start to break our habits, addictions and reactive patterns. Imagine no longer being a slave to your senses. If we can remain equanimous to each and every sensation we will no longer react, become upset, become addicted, become trapped by cravings and aversions. Balance and harmony, sounds pretty sweet right?
But first you must work to become aware, and in one Vipassana experience this is not going to happen, they say every year you should put yourself through the experience to maximize the benefits of the technique. We need to fully learn and practice experiencing our sensations and practice the mindset of equanimity to all sensations whether good or bad. As the buddha (enlightened one ) said, pain is inevitable but suffering is an option. If we are fully aware to the ever changing reality whether we experience old sad patterns or extreme joy we are neither fully up nor fully down, our scales of emotion remain balanced, then we can start to experience peace and remove misery from our lives. Only through practice will one achieve this. Books and intellect is not enough. This is the purpose of the Vipassana center, to give a safe and scheduled practice available to everybody as it runs solely on donation basis and is said to have no religious connection.

Its day 10 and I’m ready to go home. I feel too anxious to even meditate. It’s tiring now and monotonous and I feel that I can work better or practice better in the real world, outside of this meditation “prison”. Perhaps the anxiety is something, which I need to break, I should really be sitting through and experiencing this discomfort. But just being here is now uncomfortable. I share a 3×2 Meter room and toilet with a lady from Istanbul., and I sleep on a thin mattress on the floor. I know my roommate is from Istanbul because we had 15 minutes to talk before the start of silence on the day we all arrived. We cannot even make eye contact in this small confined space. When it comes to an end and when we can start talking again I am satisfied and ready to return to my beach haven. Talking soon becomes frustrating again and I prefer not to share all thoughts and feelings.
Like everything in life there are highs and there are lows, and you can only truly appreciate the one by recognizing the other.
In metta we give unconditional love to everyone, sending love through the heart.
I forgive every one, I forgive the ones who bullied me at school, I forgive the people who spoke bad to me, the ones who intoxicated my life with their unconsciousness and addictions to habit and substance, I forgive myself for any harm I did unto others, but mostly I forgive myself for any negative projections I sent out and so experienced within.
This is energy, thoughts and feelings are energy our projections into and within life.
Maybe that energy and those people chose me, because they knew one day I would forgive, forget and let go, or perhaps I chose this kind of energy so that I would know the precious gift of forgiveness and unconditional love and acceptance. Anything is possible in this world of constant change and exchange of energy.

And so the inner work has begun.  I am changing the self image I created for myself in my youth.  The past is there but can be viewed more objectively, and so space is created for a true higher potential to be born.

They say it takes around 3 Vipassana sittings to truly reap the benefits.  I know the paths are many and truth is one.  I don’t believe it to be for everyone, and don’t believe it is a path for me.  I have a moving body and feel that in order to feel truly alive I will move it as long as I can or am able to.  I find meditation in swimming, walking, yoga, diving, if I feel the need arise again to explore Vipassana so be it, for now I am happy to be exploring forest and Ocean, moving my body while deepening my connection to Nature. My one true guru.