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Stress to Serenity: The Transformative Power of Breath & Diving


Duo Scuba divers


The world is a wacky place nowadays, from COVID to the Russian conflict, to the unstable economy and global warming. Watching the news can really suck the air out of the living room depending on the day.

Let alone any of the daily stresses in our personal lives that can range from simply trying to peacefully get across town, to caring for an aging parent, to dealing with our everyday lives. And I haven’t even mentioned the bizarre world of social media, which can leave you wondering what, if anything, is true. It seems like there are stress triggers everywhere swirling around us with every breath and step we take.

Ring bubble formation
Ring bubble formation

For most of us who love to dive – diving is the main way to de-stress our lives. It’s simple, just strap a tank on your back and let’s jump in the ocean. The problem is most of us don’t live close to the ocean, nor have time to simply grab a tank and breath underwater and let the world float away. Most of us have day jobs.

Diving is so important because it is the simple focus of breathing. Being aware of your inhale and exhale, the basic skill you need to dive, is the heart of Zen. Diving is moving Zen, but your desire to dive to find peace is impractical in light of the world today.

Bubble Formation
Bubble formation

The point is not to wait for the water to Zen out.

Embracing life’s struggles with the skills of diving by breathing with and through, walking, sitting, talking, driving, working, and yes, even the pain of life, can help all divers. The breath is the tool above and below water to allow us to put one foot in front of the other while we pay attention to our lives. Breathing above the water line helps us to detach from the ‘external environment’ and can center ourselves inward and allow life’s drama to simply happen.

This is not a passive or fatalistic practice, it allows space for the thing outside ourselves to exist without us judging it to be right or wrong, or if it should even be happening. The transformation of practicing the breath during stressful times allows us not to slip into despair. It allows us to embrace our journey through the ever-changing circumstances and moments we call life. To be clear, diving and Zen have one basic rule – don’t forget to breathe.

Tom Peyton the zen diver

This article was originally published in Scuba Diver North America US #11.

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Scuba Diver Magazine is a global publication serving all the major English speaking markets in print and digital format.
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