The other day when swimming my mind wandered as it sometimes does. Usually I don’t let it drift far. Actually, I can’t if I’m going to keep track of my lap number and time. I wear a watch and check my time after every 24 laps. I stop at the end of every 600 and check my watch, sometimes take my pulse and have a sip of water. The stopwatch feature on my watch announces if I’m improving my speed and my pulse lets me know if I’m working hard enough. Point is that I have my method and routine that requires that I maintain focus throughout the time I’m swimming, which is usually 45 minutes since I swim a mile on most days.
Key words in the above paragraph are ‘maintain focus’–swimming is a meditation! That’s what meditation is after all, a focused concentration. When I swim, every 30 seconds or so I flip around and swim the other direction when coming to the wall and the end of the lane. Last summer, at the start of my lap swimming (I’m new to it), I’d loose track of my count. A good deal of my focus went elsewhere much of the time–on trying not to swallow half the pool and getting enough air!
Once comfortable in that environment–learning the protocol, becoming familiar with the lifeguards, and even the minor social half-smile’s and nods to the other regular swimmers–I was able to concentrate better on what I was actually doing there! Yet the other day, I became distracted by the two male swimmers in the lanes next to me. This is rare because I’m happily in my own world and besides I already know that I’m a slow swimmer compared to the muscular young triathlete type men who also frequent the swim lanes.
I began to hit the wall nearly the same time as the fast swimmer next to me and I wondered if I was almost keeping up with him–yeah, my mind began wandering and I’d have to pull it back to my breath and my lap count frequently. Turns out the guy was swimming nearly 2 laps to my one (believe it or not) but I had no business whatsoever comparing myself to another swimmer in the first place!
There’s no quicker way to loose focus an concentration and deflate the spirit than to compare yourself to someone else! Swim your own swim and play your own game, best you can especially when you need to stay focused. But then, isn’t that always?
I say that to the psychic class members in the class that I teach–comparing yourself to others is death to the spirit!
I know someone who is highly competitive and reading this may disagree; I suppose we all do life differently.
Yet, I feel that a little competitiveness can to a long way; probably a strange thing to say on the first day of the Olympics in Russia. But I’d guess even competitors of the 2014 Winter Olympics would agree that when it comes right down to it they are competing with themselves to stay focused, maintain concentration, play their own game (maybe team sport is an exception) and not let what the person in the next lane is doing distract them from that.
Maybe I’m wrong about that–I’ve never been much of a competitor so don’t have a good deal of personal experience; my topic here is holding focus and concentration and not allowing the mind to wander by speculating, comparing, contrasting and just plain thinking, thereby taking one’s self totally out of the moment.
Mental discipline! Minding the mind! Minding the mental store, so-to-speak. That’s how swimming laps can be a meditation… about 45 minutes worth.
A mile swim in a 25 yard pool is 66 laps or 33 laps if you count each out-and-back as one.
Most of the readings that I do are about an hour too and I can’t let my mind wander then either.
Yeah, that’s how swimming laps is like doing a psychic reading.