The cold Atlantic ocean in the middle of December. Sure what better time to get in. The stark, cold, instant activation of the body is why we do it. The cold water is a power unto itself, and what’s more….its free. Exposure to the cold water has numerous health benefits, including fat loss, reduction of inflammation, improved sleep quality, balanced hormonal levels, balanced mood, facilitates in a stronger immune system, and produces feel good hormones, known as endorphins.
If you could purchase all these elements in one bottle you would. So, what’s stopping us from making use of what’s already available to us. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hard. It’s cold. It’s crazy. Just a few things I have heard others say, as they watch me trundle into the sea in my swimming togs in winter.
I started sea swimming on the first of January 2019, my birthday. Invited some friends to join me for a sunrise swim, on a cold Irish beach with hot flasks of tea and an open mind. Some had never set foot in the cold seas before and thought this was all a little bats! Maybe it was… what I saw were fearful, anxious, uneasy faces going into the sea, and euphoric, exhilarated, ecstatic faces coming out. Why? because the sea is a power unto itself. When you enter it, there is only the present moment, right here and now, absolute awareness. The body and mind are fully conscious. The cold water works its way around the body, and we feel it tingle, blood flows fiercely and we focus on the breath. The breath is our control centre. Our breath is what allows this process to happen. Our breath is our meditation. Long breath in, long breath out.
The mind is strong, and our thoughts stronger. The sea is grounding, it brings body and mind to the here and now, deliberate focus. Allowing those ruminating thoughts to slow down, to pass with the clouds, and to not all consume us. Present day life keeps many in a state of stress, anxiety, depression and emotional discomfort. We are often unregulated, homeostasis is out of balance, and the body is living in a state of high alert most of the time.
In my experience with the sea, the cold water has allowed me to re-regulate, to re-balance, and to re-energise. When I get out of the water my body tingles and hints a rosy shade of pink, my blood vessels are alert, and my body is…well…numb. I quickly change, get warm and drink my tea.
My day after an early swim is powerful. I always feel energised and alive, and I know my body is balanced. Sea swimming is not for everyone, but we love it, we are a small bunch of local mums who meet when we can, we come together, smile, laugh, squeal and breath as we enter the cold seas. We spend these precious moments together and the sea is our connection, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Alannah December 2019