At 100 metres below the oceans surface its almost entirely dark. The pressure exerted on your body is 13 times stronger than at sea level. It’s freezing cold, you’re at least a minute and a half swim away from the surface and virtually out of breath. Your lungs will have hardened to protect your chest cavity from being crushed, and because you have very little air in your lungs pushing you towards the surface, the swim back requires twice the effort. Sounds like a nightmare right? Not for the likes of Guillaume Nery, world famous free-diver, who describes feeling amazing at these crazy subterranean depths.
Above the surface, under this kind of pressure, your natural instinct is to fight, resist and struggle but according to Nery, who has regularly broken the symbolic 100-meter mark, you must do the exact opposite. You must convince your mind to relax completely and to stay calm.
Unlike most extreme sports, which require high levels of adrenaline, free driving requires total relaxation of the body and mind. In the words of Nery “you have to tell yourself that nature and the elements are stronger than you. You have to let the water crush you. I accept the pressure and go with it.”
He also says that its incredibly important to stay positive and no let your thoughts wonder, to the infinite amount of “what ifs”, which will make you panic and drive you crazy. It’s important to remain completely focused on the present and deal with what you can control, not what you can’t. “Never look at the surface, not with your eyes or your mind,” says Nery.
Free diving also emphasizes how important it is to breathe correctly. Focusing on your breathing allows one to stay calm and in the moment, and in the case of free divers explore an underwater universe that few get to witness.
By applying mental techniques such as the ones listed above, Nery and free divers like him have been able to swim to depths that doctors and physiologists had previously deemed impossible. The sport continues to prove the incredible power of the mind.
So the next time you start to panic before a big presentation, or you’re stepping into an exam, or someone cuts you off in the traffic, remember to take in a deep breath, relax, stay calm, stay present, drink a can of Tranquini and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.