NLP & Freediving III: Static Apnea

So what can we do for static, then? Well, this is a tricky one, as everyone has their own way of coping with the quite unexplored emotional state that prolonged lack of oxygen induces. NLP has not investigated this, but of course it still could hold some answers.

One state used by NLP that would seem to have implications and uses for static apnea is that of Trance. Trance is a kind of hypnotic state, and no doubt hypnosis has been tried before, but let’s approach it from the NLP angle instead.

Trance in NLP is known as "downtime". It is a time when you are predominantly paying attention to the internal world. It is the state you are in when a colleague catches you staring into space during a meeting, having missed a crucial discussion. It is the state you are in just before you drop off to sleep, when your partner decides to tell you some vital part of tomorrow’s plans that you never remember. It is also most definitely the state I am aiming for during a static breath hold. Someone who is in trance may well seem to be asleep to the outside world, but their subjective experience is a rich, creative state of inner consciousness. In trance, we are far more awake to ourselves than in any other state.

Physical indications of trance include muscle relaxation, most noticeable in the facial muscles, slower pulse and breathing, unfocussed or closed eyes, slowed swallowing and blinking reflexes and a subjective feeling of comfort. Again, kind of a nice place to be during a breath hold so how do we get there.

Everyone is going to access a trance state slightly differently. Meditation might get you there. Some people can just phase out any time they like. If you find it more difficult then try the following exercise. You can do this during a static or just before you put your head in the water if your breathe-up has become automatic. I prefer to do it once I am down there and have wriggled my toes and fingers around a bit to get comfortable.

Before you start, decide when you are going to come back. Clearly, if you are using this for a static breath hold, a very good time to click back is when your buddy gives you a tap! Decide whether you are going to totally chill out or whether you want your mind to be creative while you are in trance. If you want to come up with some ideas than think of the questions you want answers to before you start to go into trance.

Begin by describing in your mind three things you can see. If you have your eyes shut, imagine these. In the pool this might be the line on the bottom of the pool, your buddy’s foot, the string of your nose clip or maybe just a nasty hairball! You don’t have to look at them, just imagine them and tell yourself about them slowly in your mind.

Next do the same for three things you can hear. Maybe you can hear the pool pump gurgling, maybe a child playing in the distance, maybe the countdown of a diver nearby. Again, inwardly tell yourself about these sounds.

Move on, then, to three things you can feel. Think to yourself: as I lie here I can feel my eyelashes fluttering against my mask, I can feel my buddy’s hand on my back, I can feel the water in between my toes.

Once you have got the hang of this, and take it slowly, carry on. This time describe inwardly two things you can see (or could see if your eyes were open!), two things you can hear and two things you can feel. These can be the same or different as the ones you used before.

Finally just choose one in each category. One thing you can see, one you can hear and one you can feel.

After this close your eyes, if you have not already done so, and make the world as black as you can. Your whole visual field should be black. Make it as dark as possible.

Find the part of your body that is most comfortable and imagine that comfort spreading to the rest of you like a warming glow. Bring that warmth and comfort through your whole body and relax.

Let your mind wander and wonder wherever it wishes to go until you feel your signal to wake up, your tap. Do not try to control your thoughts, just let them fly.

Asides from helping you out in a static, this is also a great way to get to sleep at night. Try it and see.

After my last article on NLP, I got quite a few questions on how to apply it. I hope these three exercises prove valuable, please let me know how you get on.

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