Someone has said that freediving is about mastering your mind. But I think it is also about mastering the whole situation.
All that starts when I have to take all the risks into consideration before any dives. I train a lot and go to next levels very slowly. A human body needs a lot of time to adapt to breath holding, depth or cold water. Without that training it's not possible to do this safely, otherwise there are too many risks.
I never dive if I feel that there is possibly any risks involved. When I’m sure my diving is going to be safe it is very easy for me to relax. I really do not have to put my effort to external factors and I can only focus on my dive. It’s much easier to master in my mind if I master all the safety things first :).
I like strong feelings. It doesn’t matter if they’re positive or negative feelings, I like to feel a lot. Freediving feels a lot. Freediving in cold water feels a little bit more :D. If I’m feeling a lot, then I believe it’s good and I love to understand how small I am in the bigger scheme of things. I’m part of something bigger.
Mastering my mind before the dive… I have to work with the idea that soon I’m going to make something which might feel very very bad. If I do not relax before the dive, it will feel bad. I have to get rid of the feeling how it might feel and understand that it’s going to feel.. whatever.. it’s going to feel just the way it feels.
I ask children (and sometimes adults too :D) “How does it feels when the water gets into your nose?”. You should think your answer before you read more.
Normal answer is that it does not feel good or something like that. But I think that is not the right answer. I think: It feels like you have water in your nose. Being in cold water feels just like being in cold water. It’s the same when holding your breath just feels like holding your breath. For me pushing myself to my limits is to give a chance for myself to really feel how it feels over and over again. Not to get stuck with my old feelings or having an opinion how it might feel or how it felt yesterday or a couple of years ago. Or what I thought about that feeling... Do I come to like the feeling or not.
I’m happy I had to force myself to really feel the cold. I’m happy to force myself to really feel how it feels to be in a traffic jam. I’m happy to force myself to feel how it really feels when I’m tense in a client meeting. I’m so happy that I started to freedive because breath holding really feels a lot and I really have to work with this every time when I’m diving. It’s the best training for taking all kinds of things the way they are and not be afraid beforehand how it might feel.
Sometimes I have to come up in the middle of my dive. I’m not as good as I want to be. And I have learned in freediving that things which make you give up are not related to the situation. I often come up before I really had to. I come up in the middle of the dive despite the fact that I just decided to dive as long as I can. It doesn’t matter what it is that you’re doing, but you start, and then something makes you stop. If you don’t continue in the best possible way you can, the reason why you stopped is probably not related to the task itself, but to stuff in your own head.
In freediving the stuff in my head is not how it feels now. It’s my skewed opinion of how it might feel a bit later. For me the preparation for the dive and the dive itself is the same thing. I can not separate these two things.