” Swimming lengths outdoors adds the glory of the trees and sky to the wonderful calm blueness of the water. “
Turtle in blue water – in Berlin Kreuzberg photo by howlzao Cologne

Although I love to swim, I somehow actually hadn’t been to the local outdoor pool since having cancer. So, this year with both time and lovely hot weather, it was an excellent opportunity to renew my love affair with swimming. We live not a ten-minute cycle from the pool and there’s an excellent on-line feature to let you know how crowded it is.

There’s something so meditative about swimming lengths.

Up and down, up and down and up and down.

Swimming lengths outdoors adds the glory of the trees and sky to the wonderful calm blueness of the water.

Thoughts float in and out of my head as I swim. Breathing becomes rhythmic which is calming in itself. I’d thought beforehand that it might be that well-known 4-4-4 breathing for reducing anxiety. Well-known for its calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system:

  • Inhale for a count of 4
  • Hold the breath for a count of 4
  • Exhale for a count of 4

Turns out with the physical exertion of swimming and putting my head under water for each exhale the rhythm was more like 2-2-2, still good for my mounting check-up anxiety though.

Another breathing system for anxiety invented by Dr Andrew Weil is 4-7-8 breathing known as “relaxing breath” to be done when sitting or lying to reduce tension and even aid falling asleep.

I’ve used this breathing technique often particularly while waiting in the cystoscopy room for the doctor to arrive. You concentrate on the breath and counting, and other thoughts fade from your mind. Back in the pool swimming up and down. I’m aware of the exercise massaging my inner organs and the water swirling around my fingers and toes. It’s not just the breathing that calms, it’s the water, it’s the deep blueness and it’s the Hockney-like-white-squiggles in the quiet underwater-world and it’s my regular calming breath.


4-7-8 breathing https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324417.php

TEDx Talk “Breathe to heal” by Max Strom  on intentional breathing which “triggers fight or flight to turn off and rest and digest to turn on”