The Natural healing power of the Sea, and what it has taught me in the last four months is what I want to share with you. Nature is a power above and beyond us.
Before Christmas I decided to ditch my wetsuit and head to the beach in the middle of an Irish winter in a Bikini, with a towel, a hot flask of tea, and an open mind. I went to my local beach, to find others crazy Irish people there, with the same thing in mind as me, to breathe and then swim in the sea. We sat at dawn watching the sun rise, and we practised the Wim Hoff Method of breathing, I knew nothing of it then. But I was inspired, and when I entered the water, I understood what that inspiration was.
The door was now open, the horse had bolted! A few weeks later, on New Years Day 2019, I planned a non-wetsuit birthday swim, with hot flasks of tea, birthday cake and great friends. It was a cold winters day, it was dark and the dawn was breaking, my friends and I sat, practised our breathing, and then….jumped in. Since then I swim every weekend, and every weekend it gets better, the distance gets a little further, and I connect more and more to myself and to the sea.
When my sister and I were young, our parents took us travelling, we were blessed, we saw much of the world, we experienced diversity, wonders, cultures and adventures. We made friends on our travels, and our parents allowed us to explore. One day my sister, myself and our new local friend we were out swimming in the sea, in what used to be an old derelict harbour, we got into trouble, couldn’t swim properly and nearly drowned.
Grief, Loss & Trauma are all parts that make up who I am, but I am also made up of kindness, love and hope, with a little bit of chaos thrown in there! I’ve had many life changing events, that have proved to push me beyond the limits of hopelessness and fear, into a place of hope. Those events in life have shaped me today, although they instilled anxiety and fear within me, I have learnt appreciation, gratitude and most of all, how to love, and how to face my fears with shame never too far away. A childhood of let downs, abuse and neglect, yet sugar coated with privileges of a good school, riding horses in a middle class setting. I grew up with friends who appeared to ‘have it all’ good school, great secure families, self-esteem and security. I watched only in envy to have but a nugget of what they had. I felt I only had a heavy, lonely heart that had been left out to dry in the cold, and an empty void of loss which began with my mothers death at age eleven.
Trauma has sat patiently with me my whole life, it fluctuates regularly and my body holds the score. Like an engine that is not finely tuned, that requires care, maintenance, support, love, patience and repair. Thats where the sea swimming comes in, it re-regulates me, it re-aligns by nervous system, it balances my mental chatter and it brings me to the present moment. It shocks me into balance, it’s my natural healer.
Week after week my son and I wake early, make a hot flask of herbal tea, and we take to the sea, with our two small dogs, there we meet our regular sea swimming friends who have been with us since New Year, we meet, greet, strip down on the cold dark mornings, breathe then head for the water. This is what it is about, friendships, laughs, fears, unknowns, love and support. Before we enter the water, we breathe, we go silent, we listen to the sea as it moves, words are not needed, only presence. The presence of a friendship that has unspoken words, there is a stillness. Each of us has our pains in the body, some have migraines, some have injuries, some can’t swim well, and some feel sad from life’s troubles, but what brings us together is the water, it unites us, it holds us in a space of ‘here and now’ is allows our bodies to heal from the pain, it allows us to reset our minds, it brings us to the fore, for that moment of submersion we are at one with the sea, there is it and us, we are insignificant in the grandeur of the big sea. Silence becomes the group, we swim apart, and each search for whatever it is we are looking for. A relief, a release, a hope, a remedy, a calmness, a clearing out, but most of all, it brings us to love and it brings us to the now. We get out, dry off, warm up over a hot cup gently cradled in our cold hands, and we chat.
Is it that the sea is powerful and unforgiving, is it that it heals, is it the boldness of the untamed waters that we feel drawn to, or is it all of the above? Nobody really knows, all we know is it has a natural beauty that no man can create, it has a ruggedness that is un-tameable, its a power unto itself. Loss played a role in my life, I lost both my parents, and I lost a baby, the loss in my life has made me appreciate what I do have, and the sea has taught me to accept what is, and to be at one with my grief. To take on each day as a new day. To be bold. To love beyond limits, to listen, and to learn from others. It has taught me that there is much about life we cannot explain, that hope is everywhere. Nature is a healer in life and that there is great strength and power in the simple things.