Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Only Time I’ve Ever Really Enjoyed Swimming In FREEZING Cold Water

I LOVE water.  I can honestly think of nothing better than being outdoors, fully immersed in water.  A lot of the time I love it too much to even swim, and prefer to just gently bob up and down basking head to toe in the perfection of it.  I like to take my time, allowing the motion of the waves or current to wash over me and bring me back to the present moment in the most easeful way possible.

Crane Beach, Barbados - now that's what I call water!

Crane Beach, Barbados – now that’s what I call water!

I’ve been lured in by icy cold rivers, lakes and oceans (OK maybe not icy, but definitely chilly) on more than one occasion.  I’ve always felt refreshed and enlivened afterwards, but have very very rarely enjoyed the actual time in the water.  Colder temperatures just don’t really suit my preferred style of bathing!  However, there was one exception.

One summer’s day a group of friends and I took a trip to the forest in south Wales to visit some beautiful waterfalls.  We walked up the steep path alongside the river which winds and cascades down between the trees.

"Sgŵd Uchaf Clyn Glyn - geograph.org.uk - 70655" by Nigel Davies. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg#/media/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg

“Sgŵd Uchaf Clyn Glyn – geograph.org.uk – 70655” by Nigel Davies. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg#/media/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg

The area is actually known as ‘Waterfall Country’ due to their abundance here.  From the high impressive curtains of water that you can walk behind, to the smaller but equally magical falls that tumble into crystal clear pools throughout the rocky gorge, there was no shortage of inspiration for every water lover!

I knew the water would be cold.  It had been a glorious summer and I’d been fortunate enough to swim in some beautiful outdoor spots in the UK a few times already that year.  On the hottest day, in much slower moving water on lower ground, I had found it pleasantly cool.

I thought back to my first outdoor swim of the year.  It was a blazing hot day, and we’d gone to a popular swimming spot at Claverton, near bath.  It was during the week and most people were in work, so we were delighted to find that we practically had it to ourselves!

The beautiful river at Claverton, on a slightly busier sunny day.

The beautiful river at Claverton, on a slightly busier sunny day.

The water was deep, dark and murky, but the lush green plants that surrounded us provided a strange sort of comfort.  It was impossible to feel in any way uneasy about what lurked in the muddy depths of the river whilst we were in the loving embrace of the verdant life that flourished there.

Birds sang, insects hummed, and the river washed over us.  It was an alien situation, and yet it felt so familiar.  The aliveness of the habitat I found myself in resonated deeply within my body, waking up a part of me that slept during the time I spent in the clean modern artificial world.

The water at this idyllic spot in Claverton wasn’t warm, but it was in a completely different league to the piercing cold of the Welsh waterfalls.

"Neath Waterfall". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg#/media/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg

“Neath Waterfall”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg#/media/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg

I was excited to plunge into the deep pool that had been carved out by the gushing torrent of white water, but I was expecting it to be fairly unpleasant!  I hurriedly tip-toed across the mossy rock – I was partly anticipating the exhilarating thrill, and partly eager for it to be over!

The waterfall was a modest size, but its power was undeniable.  As I got closer excitement took over.  It must have been the way the water hurled itself over the edge of the rock without hesitation that encouraged my unusually wholehearted approach to the experience.

I launched myself in without a second thought.  I was vaguely aware of a slightly painful tingling sensation in my skin, but the sheer joy of being engulfed in this bubbling cauldron far outweighed any discomfort I felt.  It was like being in a huge, natural, extremely vigorous jacuzzi!

By Ulybug from London, UK (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ulybug from London, UK (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

My friend went and stood directly under the roaring torrent of water.  I wouldn’t have thought it possible to withstand that kind of force, but he seemed fine so I joined him!  It was a crazy kind of power shower that left me gasping for breath and laughing hysterically.

A very quick dip is all I usually manage in colder water, but this lively waterfall pool lured me back in for more.  I happily soaked up its invigorating energy, my senses fully absorbed and my whole body buzzing.

I realised that I was ENJOYING myself, and the novelty of this fact made me even happier.  It was a bizarre experience for me to be in freezing cold water and ecstatically happy at the same time.  Eventually I did have to drag myself out of there before I lost all feeling in my limbs.  I felt amazing, fully charged by the waterfall’s power, if a little battered about!  That was one swim I wouldn’t be forgetting in a hurry!

After such an intense start, I floated through the rest of the day in the Welsh woodlands with a warm inner glow, matching the outer warmth of the golden sunlight that filtered down through the trees.  We lay on the grass, did handstands against tree trunks, laughed, chatted, strolled and ate.  It was marvellous.

Are you a mermaid/merman too?  Have you had any unusual outdoor swimming experiences?  Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

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Make Peace A Priority

Relaxation.  It’s so easy in theory, but it can be difficult during a busy day to take the time to unwind when we’ve forgotten the value of doing so.  If we were already relaxed, we’d know it truly is where the magic happens.

When you think about the things you value in your life, how many of them do you appreciate when you’re in a stressed out state?  My guess is not many!  We can lose sight of the meaning and beauty of life without even realizing what’s happened, and it’s not until we relax that we can see the difference… and what a difference!

rose

 

When you do what soothes your soul, you will notice the ripple effect that it has both in your own life and the lives of those around you.  A peaceful walk in the woods may feel like a waste of time when you’re busy, but if you allow the stillness of the forest to enter your being it will be there to serve you when you most need it.

Light some candles or play some music and allow your mind to wander.  Later, when challenges arise, be grateful for the time spent in this relaxed state.  Allow your body’s cellular memory of the feelings of peace to inform your response, so that you can remain steady even in the midst of chaos.

Make time for peace and become steady as a mountain.

Make time for peace and become steady as a mountain.

If you regularly do the things that make you feel calm and centered it will show through in everything you do.  You will naturally feel more joy in even the mundane aspects of life.  You will gain perspective on your problems and make wiser decisions.  You will appreciate all of the good things in your life and the positive qualities that you already possess.  You will connect more with those around you, and be more sensitive to their needs.  Your open heart and easy demeanor will allow more joy to emerge in all of your relationships.

Whatever your role in life, you will make a difference.  It’s amazing what a little inner peace can do.  Whether you’ve found your calling in life, or are still working your way towards the job of your dreams, a calm heart and a peaceful mind will ensure that you maximize not only your own happiness, but that of the people you interact with along the way.

If you’re unhappy or wanting to make changes in your life, regularly connecting to these feelings of calm and contentment will allow you to see the way forward.  When things go wrong, or your mood is low, it’s easy to think that worrying will help you to find a solution.  However, it can have quite the opposite effect and block your view of the possibilities that are available.  Taking the time to relax, and allowing peace and tranquility to inform you of what truly matters, will bring you much closer to where you want to be.

Hampi, India

 

Give yourself the time to delve deep into the present moment and see what you find.  Let your mind drift in swirls like the smoke of burning incense.  Allow the hypnotic beat of the music to leave its impression on your subconscious mind, and serve as a reminder to you in the hours and days to come of this gift that you have given to yourself and to the world.

When you make peace a priority in this way, you will find ease and lightness when there was previously strain and struggle.  Your mind will be clear and you will carry a ‘piece’ of this peace with you wherever you go.

I would love to be inspired by hearing about how you like to relax, or anything else related to this subject that you would like to share. 

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