In my first article on NLP and freediving, I covered the notion of Rapport, not only with others but with yourself when it is known as Congruence. If you are Congruent, then you are happy and calm with yourself and how you are at that moment. You feel "right" about who you are, what you are doing, how you are physically and your head is in the right place for what you are about to attempt. This is clearly a great state to be in before a big dive, but how do we get there? This can be achieved by taking what NLP calls a Personal Inventory: a checklist of emotions, thoughts, sights, sounds, smells and everything else you are aware of within you.
Freedivers are often accused of being self-obsessed, so go for it and live up to the reputation !
A good time to do a Personal Inventory is while you make your stretches or while lying by the waterside before starting your warm-up for a dive.
Begin with physical sensations. Take a few minutes to really become aware of your body. What do you feel? Start down at your toes and move up, paying attention to the connections between all the different parts of your body. Which parts are comfortable? Which are not? Remember, the aim at this stage is not to achieve perfect comfort, just awareness, so do not feel you need to change position or make any judgements on how you feel. Yes, you might become aware of a roll of flab that really shouldn’t be there, or an ache somewhere you thought you had stretched out, but just add it to the list and move on.
When you have your physical sensations covered, move on to your thoughts. What mental pictures do you have at the moment? Is it a movie or a photo? Black and white or colour? Soft or sharp focus? Are you part of the action or is it distant from you?
What sounds can you hear in your mind? Are you talking to yourself? Is it your voice or someone else’s? Is it shouting or whispering? Are there other noises in the background? Where are they coming from?
How is your sense of balance? Are you leaning to one side or the other?
Too far forward or too far back?
What emotional state are you in? Don’t try and change it, just acknowledge it. What is your predominant emotion at this time ?
Then, gently come back to the present moment.
When you dive you will be pretty much alone with yourself, so it makes sense to get to know that person before you get down there. The hard part is trying not to change anything. If you come across something that you find really unproductive, you might want to mentally note it for later and deal with it once you have completed your inventory – either using an anchor, a visualisation or even just some more stretching, depending on the problem.
I have also experimented with taking a Personal Inventory during a static breath hold. At times this has been useful, but more often than not it is too hard to remain objective, and I am left more aware of my discomfort than I would have been without it. So do it before a dive rather than during and you will find its value.
In next week’s third and final installment, Sam takes us to a trance.