The Croft Farm pool is getting new windows and we’re off to Paris for a couple of nights at the Molitor Hotel with its famous art deco pool. I’m looking forward to seeing it and to getting in. I might do a few lengths but I won’t be swimming up and down.
When in the pool I’m either giving myself to the water, (letting it help me breathe, getting out of my own way, quietening down), or, like most people, I’m in ‘doing’ mode; trying – to get something right, or to get somewhere – always in danger of overexcitement of the nervous system.
The people most capable of getting something really beneficial from being in water are the least likely to do it. Swimmers are too busy swimming, counting, pushing, pulling, turning, ‘sighting’. Pulling the head back against the spine, shortening the back, sucking in air.
Profound benefits are there to be had, for even the most fearful and unbalanced of people, if they can decide not to strive to be a swimmer of strokes and settle for being happy in water. Floating about, consciously moving a dangling limb, without tightening the neck, directing the spine to lengthen.
Getting in wild water feels like an adventure and it wakes us up. But in the UK it’s usually too cold to release and expand. So what happens instead? We stiffen our neck, shorten our back and hold our breath. We shrink. We feel good getting out, beating our chest because we feel alive, but what we’ve probably just done is excited our fear reflexes.
The whole of humanity could benefit from being in water if it knew how. But mostly we’re more stupid in water than we are on dry land.