When I started freediving I was very interested in yoga and meditation. And did it every day. Over the years I have learned my own technique and my own way to empty my mind and keep my body strong and flexible. So, I don’t yoga or do meditation any more, but I think my training is based on these techniques anyway. I have a very short breathing ritual, about two minutes, which is the same with all my dives and also in competitions. During that I relax and empty my mind. I find peace whenever I freedive. It starts already during my two minutes of concentration. If I find peace during my concentration I can make very long dives. If my concentration doesn't work freediving feels difficult. How to get peace is the most interesting and exciting part of training freediving.
Cold therapy helped with the pain in my leg. Cold treatment reduces inflammation, swelling and pain. But something else happens to the body in cold water. It feels a lot. First I thought the feeling was unpleasant but it really isn't. Spending just a couple of minutes in cold water gives you total relaxation of body and mind. It feels amazing. I love freediving and I love being underwater. I love the feeling of water. I love how the pressure feels and how I relax in a couple of minutes when I'm holding my breath. If you want to dive you need total relaxation. And it's awesome. Every time I dive I'm very relaxed, I'm not afraid of anything and I have no doubts. I think it has been great that I have had a chance to make time and to have a good reason to practice in cold water. It has been a good to test of what I can do and it's interesting to try to find out where my limits are. That's why I also like to compete in freediving. I have dived longer, further and deeper than I ever thought I would. The same thing happened in cold water. To know exactly what happens to me and my body in cold water is also a safety thing for me. In Finland the water is very cold most of the year. I kayak a lot alone in the sea in every weather when it rains and when it's stormy and cold and dark. To know how far from the shore I can go safely I need to know how long I can swim in cold water.
It’s the same as my motivation in setting records. It is quite simple. I just want to be a better diver. If I dive better in competitions, under a very hard mental situation, it will be safer for me to do fun diving. Competitions and records are just easy way to measure it. Time, length or depth. All the other things are mental and not so easy to measure.
And I think it has been great that I have had a chance to play in the water with my sister. We spend a lot of time in the water taking pictures or just hanging around. Taking pictures is much more demanding than basic freediving training. And it’s much more fun. If I go just to train, it’s hard to train for many hours. If I go with my sister we could stay there forever. Making beautiful pictures is a way for us to show the world how beautiful it is underwater. It also gives me much more motivation than records or results. I can see the result in the picture :D.
We want to show our pictures to the whole world. So everyone could see how beautiful it is. In Finland the nature is clean and beautiful and so are the waters. And when they see we are doing something that is not easy (like diving under the ice without the suit), but we really love to do, we hope they stop for a second to think what really is important for them and makes them happy.
Those techniques and mental concentration that I had been using already to handle the unpleasant feelings when holding my breath I realized that I can use the same techniques for the feeling of cold and most importantly to deal with pain. And I realized I can use it for all unpleasant feelings so I have been quite happy ever since. :D
Photos by Elina, www.elinamanninen.com