Deep written by James Nestor is a worthy read. My son, Jordan, recommended it recently and over the weekend I devoured it. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.
The book is about freediving and what the ocean tells us about ourselves. I learned a lot about both and found it fascinating. These free divers are a crazy bunch. Freediving is the second most dangerous sport in the world. The only one with a higher fatality rate is BASE jumping (the dudes in squirrel suits, right). According to Trubridge, one of the studs of this sport, “Freediving is as much a mental game as a physical one.” Hard to believe, but true. Here’s a taste of the physical challenge.
Imagine yourself in the middle of the ocean. Handful of boats round you. A rope with a weight at the end of it, dangles 300 feet below. Your job is to drop 300 feet, touch the weight and then return to the surface. Typical time below is 3-5 minutes. On. One. Breath. The first 30 feet your lungs are filled with air and trying to send you back to the surface. You must work to sink. While swimming down you have to equalize your ear drums or they’ll blow (literally). As you pass 30 feet, pressure doubles. Lungs shrivel. Suddenly the ocean pulls you down. Arms to your side. Drop like a rock. At 100 feet pressure triples. You can barely see the surface. Does. Not. Matter. Most free divers eyes are closed anyway (uses less energy).
At 150 feet down you enter a kinda dream state caused by increased carbon dioxide and nitrogen in your bloodstream. The fun really starts at 250 feet down. The pressure is so great your lungs are now the size of your fist and heart rate is halved. Damn. At 300 feet the master switch kicks in(more on that in another rant) and you forget where you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Your dive watch beeps and you open your eyes, look for the guide rope, and begin the hardest part of the journey – ascending to the surface. Now, you fight the ocean. According to Trubridge and others you have to fight your feelings. It feels like the deep is pulling you down into itself. It feels like the best embrace (some says it feels like a hug from God) and you’ve got to resist impulse. Must know your limits!
You kick and slowly the body heads for the surface. The pain is excruciating as your body is being sucked into itself as you change pressure zones on the way up. If the vacuum becomes too great, you blackout. If you’re underwater when you blackout, your dive buddy has roughly 2 minutes to get you to the surface or you’re as good as dead. Even if you don’t blackout and manage to make it to the top, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to breath. Blood will likely be oozing from multiple orifices. You must remain calm and simply catch a breath. This must be the mental game, huh. The physical demands of freediving seem beyond foreboding, don’t they?
Think about this the next time playing your sport or the game of business.
The mental game is most often regulated by ones ability to breath deeply. The SEAL’s have made 4 square breathes a part of their road to recovery. In freediving you cannot breath deeply. You breath once at the surface and must self regulate without humanities greatest regulator – your breath.
Remember this whenever you get distressed in your sport. Whatever your playing, know you have the ability to calm your central nervous system with breath. Your breath. Appreciate the gift. Breathe. Breathe deep inhales and slow exhales. Breathe deep. Calm yourself. You’re not in the ocean holding onto one breathe because your life depends on it. You’re playing a game you love with those you love. Breathe again. Eliminate noise and distraction. Focus your mind on the task at hand. Now go crush it. Empty the freakin’ tank. Go deep. Discover what you’ve got. It. Is. More. Than. You. Think. LFG. Good.
Live hard. Love harder. Breathe…