Sometimes I think that climbing and freediving are just two sides of the same coin, and that that’s why I’m so drawn to them. Both activities include close interaction with the elements (e.g. rock or water), a strong mental focus, physical strength, the need to perform and relax at the same time, mostly small scale equipment, an individual performance coupled with the need for a team, and the feeling of being free and one with nature.
But then, when I start to compare how these two activities makes me feel, in my mind and in my body, the differences are abundant.
Rock climbing, to me, is about the flow and repetition of a differentiated set of small details and small moves. Your hip turning ever so slightly towards the rock face, allowing you to reach that next crimper, then your momentum can be shifted over to your left foot by adjusting your balance on that tiniest of holds, just a small rocking movement and you’re there… You tie into the rope and narrow your world down to what is of the essence of right now – the features of the rock face measured against your bodily and mental capacity. The most beautiful climbs are set in a mental state of flow. You know that you do not know what awaits you up there, and you relish that feeling and succumb to it. Freedom is being fearless.
Freediving is an entirely different set of repetitive movements. They’re larger, more simplified. You are a wave. Punto y final. The pattern of freediving is less complex when it comes to what muscles you use and how you move your body, and so it calls for less mental activity. While practicing freediving, you get to know your own breath before and after a dive, and you familiarize yourself with its impact on your state of being. You get to know your own inner landscape, because during a breath-hold, that’s all there is to see. The only way to escape from meeting yourself is to surface again, and why would you want to do that? A freediver longs for the depth, for the intimacy it provides. Freediving is meditation and thoughtless contemplation. With this self awareness, you walk through everyday life a stronger person. It’s a simple and beautiful gift.
Freediving calms your mind, rock climbing activates it. They both lead to a state of flow, but for different reasons. I cherish them both.
The trick is to understand how to do both without constantly loosing your essential climbing calluses from swimming in the ocean for too long 😉