Day 343 to Day 350 – breathing underwater

Day 343 – breathing slowly underwater

First day of my diving course. Matt has sent me to do this so that I can dive with him in Vietnam. The whole day is spent in the pool learning the skill set we will need to be underwater with all this equipment. What becomes apparent is how slow and long my exhale is. I realise that the breath regulation I learnt in India has completely changed the way I breathe. Here it is quantifiable in bubbles. It is also quantifiable in bar/psi- at the end of the day I have the most air left in my tank. The reason for this, I guess, is that more time is spent on the exhale and a longer exhale empties the lungs, allowing the inhale to more efficiently absorb oxygen, making for a more economical use of the air in the tank. We also get measured on how many breathes we can get out of the hose after the air is switched off and the instructor is a little surprised that I got 4-5 breaths out of that small amount of air. Now, becoming more conscious of the effectiveness of this breath pattern I remember more often to breathe with an inhale for five seconds and an exhale for ten seconds. This is four breaths per minute; however it is still only a work in progress. A true yogi breathes no more than once per minute. Of course, these same rishis can probably sit underwater with no tank and just absorb oxygen from the water molecules. That would take a little longer than a day in a pool to master.


Day 344 – script, number, action

This week of work we are doing something called Phone Action. I have only done one before. It is considered to be a bit of a nightmare, unless of course you can use it to your advantage. It is a great opportunity to make a lot of turnover and sell a lot of wine. Basically we call our old customers with a deal they can’t refuse and with Christmas around the corner, everyone is buying wine… Everyone except the people I call. At least nobody has told me to get lost. They have all been really cheerful so after a full day on the phones, I have sold nothing but I have had some really great conversations. I guess sometimes I am not aggressive enough to make the sale, but I am friendly enough to enjoy myself anyway and just send some good energy out into the world. Well the first day of phone action is always the easiest…


Day 345 – sacred spaces

The second day of phone action is getting harder. I am starting to crumble under the pressure. It is harder to keep the energy on the phone as we get to the end of another ten-hour day. The boss announces power hour and pours everyone a glass of German sparkling. A customer tells me off and I just need to create a little space just for me and escape away from the world. I take my phone, my pen, paper and glass of wine under the desk and create a little fort. From there I make a sale. FINALLY! I am the last one in the office to do it. When we make a sale we have a little silver bell on the desk that we ding. I stand up and slam it with my fist, then in a fit of frustration-excitement-relief-mixedemotions, I throw the bell on the ground. The room is full of applause. Not just about the sale but about my dramatic way of announcing it. All it took was my sacred space. I just needed to find myself alone. When I find me there, I can do anything.


Day 346 – boot camp

Boot camp is hard today. It is a kind of drill that has no rest period. 14 jump squats, 14 grunts, 14 push ups and 14 sit ups. Run around the circuit twice, do it all again. Drop down to 12. Then 10. Start from 14… It isn’t about speed, there is no race. It is just constant movement. Did I mention it is done in soft sand? My internal dialogue has learnt to shut up. It knows that once I turn up on the beach at 6,30am, there is no way out. The trainers don’t take no for an answer and it has taught me an immense amount of discipline that I otherwise would not have in training. It is also the opposite of a yogic way of practice which encourages rest when necessary. The upside is that I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been before. When we get to the end, the trainer tells us that this session was dedicated to the two soldiers who died last year. Nothing makes you swallow your pride like hearing that. If I thought 14 grunts were hard, then I can’t imagine what they would have done. Moral of the story is to just keep moving and don’t complain. If training on the beach is the last thing I ever do, then it has been a beautiful morning.


Day 347 – I don’t know what I am doing

I am at that point in my life where I realise at least two of my friends have a PhD and I still haven’t yet finished my undergraduate. I can’t seem to organise further into the future than next week and I have three separate resumes depending on the job I am applying for. I have been in more airports than classrooms and more embassies than banks. I have more speeding and parking fines than I do money to pay them, my credit card is maxed out, yet I always have enough money in savings to buy a plane ticket. My desk is covered in Unicorn oracle cards, an empty bottle of wine and a blank travel journal. I can never find my car keys but I always know where my passport and yoga mat is. I don’t know if I am grown up yet, or if I am still leaving my window open at night for Peter Pan. I can, however, speak 3 languages, translate most yoga poses into and out of Sanskrit and physical form, tread water for at least half a day, identify and explain the use of more than 30 crystals and name 40 different grape varieties off the top of my head. I have learnt more through life experience than I have ever been taught and even though I may not always know what I am doing, I always know exactly who I am. So, to the boss, the ex, the principal, the jealous friends and the teachers who said I had no chance, who called me a dreamer like it was a bad thing and who promised that I would be homeless and poor- tell me, how many times a day do you smile? Because I don’t think I ever stop.


Day 348 – earning, learning and yearning

It is Friday. I have had enough of this job. It is going to be the death of me. I am dying for a change. At this end of a fifty hour week I am going to a friend’s bar/restaurant to see if it is the kind of place I would like to work. He used to have my job and he left for much the same reasons. When I arrive at Neild Avenue, it is beautiful, elegant, with large display bottles of Dom Perignon and tall ceilings. We sit by the open window facing the street and order wine on tap. Surprisingly it is great! I sit down and watch the waiters all dressed in white. My friend is wearing a bow tie and an apron. I know this isn’t me. This is the kind of place I would have to hide my tattoos, take off the red nail polish and all my jewellery. The kind of place where my Mohawk and leopard print hair wouldn’t work.

I feel like change is around the corner- the right opportunity is about to present itself. Later that evening as we walk down to the pub (in high heels, I might add), some cheeky fairies separate our little group so that I end up having a deep and meaningful conversation with one of Matt’s best friends. As all mates do, I get the feeling that he is trying to suss out my intentions. By the time we get to the pub, we meet up with the others and quickly turn around to go straight back home. When this friend comes in the door a few hours later, he just points at me and says, “respect!” Whatever I said, I feel like I have passed some kind of test. All I can do is be myself, but it seems like that is enough for these people. They don’t need me to dress up in white and hide my tats. They respect honesty and bravery and a girl who will walk a mile in high heels without complaining.


Day 349 – under the sea

Today is my first day open water diving. We descend slowly and go for our first little dive to acclimatise and get used to being under the sea. Yes, in my head, I can hear Sebastian from the Little Mermaid singing along. My internal DJ is also playing the song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Someone needs to invent underwater iPods. As we move along, my brain starts to run away with thoughts about what would happen if the regulator got flicked out my mouth, or what if I panic? What if I run out of air? What if I get lost? I can hear my heart pounding in my head. I am starting to spiral around with these stupid hypotheticals. Just breathe. I go back to rule 1 in diving (and life); don’t ever stop breathing. I slow my breath down and just focus on that for a while. It calms me right down and I start to enjoy this feeling. This is like every underwater dream I have ever had where I suddenly realise I can breathe in water. Except now I am doing this in reality. No need to panic, just breathe. In yoga, in diving, in life, the one thing that I know for certain is that it is ALL about the breath.


Day 350 – part of the ocean again

I once lived on a boat. I used to love having salty hair all the time. I loved how smooth my feet were from being constantly wet and polished by the gravelly deck. I loved how I could eat a mango over the side of the boat and then jump in the water to rinse off the sticky juice. I used to love eating fresh fish that we just hauled in whilst trolling. It has been ages since I spent all day in the water and this weekend has reminded me of how much I miss it. I love my hair when it is all salty instead of using product.

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