It’s a funny thing when you find yourself sinking in the middle of an ocean…when all of a sudden the safety of the vessel you’re in drops away and you’re left floating in the big blue, feeling small, vulnerable and helpless…
This was my recent experience… it was a beautiful sunny day and there was a cool adventure on offer, so I said yes and didn’t give much more thought to it than that. We took a friend’s canoe and set off towards a well-known dive spot called ‘Julian Rocks’ (two big rocks sticking out of the water about 3-4 kms off the shore of Byron Bay). Once we arrived we had a lovely snorkel exploring the underwater world and abundant of beautiful sea life out there.
After a while, the cold set in and it was time to warm our bones with the long paddle back to shore. The wind was a little stronger by this time and as we started our way across the deep divide from rocks to shore, the wind was pushing the sea water up and over the canoe. At first it was amusing, you know, kind of like a fun ride at a water park when you get splashed in the face a lot!
Then it became all too obvious that the water wasn’t leaving the canoe, it just kept coming in…
We tried to bail it out with all the techniques we could think of, but before we knew it the canoe sunk about a metre under the water and we found ourselves in the middle of the very deep, dark water right in between the rocks and the shore.
“Wow, what do we do now?” I thought… This is the true definition of being stuck between a rock and a very hard place!
“Ok don’t panic!” was the first thing that came to my mind – thankfully, also an acute awareness that I didn’t want to be mimicking the action of an injured fish, splashing around in fear and distress, which could easily be mistaken as an easy food source by some of the bigger fish in those waters.
So it was about 45 mins of floating out in the big blue, balancing on a half-submerged canoe, before we were eventually rescued by a whale watching boat. Feeling incredibly grateful and lucky was an understatement! In fact, I was in a bit of a daze and wasn’t really sure what I was thinking or feeling, except That I knew I was really, really cold!
We made it back to shore and I have to say that the whole experience gave me a powerful gift; a new lease on life! It was a reminder that I am mortal. That every moment that I have on this earth is special and everyone and everything in my life is special. Life is truly a gift.
We can often find ourselves ‘sinking’ in life (either physically or metaphysically) when it comes to stressful situations and this is when the fears can set in.
I’m certain that the tools required to survive are similar for both circumstances, whether it be a real or perceived threat to our safety. When we experience fear we can either let it consume us, or we can choose to let it fuel us and use it to help us to push for greater resource and support. After all F.E.A.R is just, as the acronym for it suggests=
False Evidence Appearing Real.
We will never really know how anything in life is going to turn out, until it has happened; in which case it’s all just guess work up until then. If we can use our awareness to pull our energy back into our centre, into our heart space or solar plexus, instead of letting ourselves drown in the fear, then we have a better ability to feel into what is required of us in any given situation.
For example; if I am feeling cold then I imagine the energy of my body coursing through me and warming me up- from the inside out. If I am feeling scared- then I can choose to pray and ask for assistance from my higher self, from my guardian angels, my beings of light, god, or whatever feels right for you.
I can use the knowledge that my body is a vessel for energy and chose to cultivate that energy into a force-field of peace and love and protection around me, from the centre of my being outwards so that it permeates all around me up to a couple of metres out from my centre. This can work as an energetic protection system.
And then (when you are literally sinking) you can tell jokes! Humour is healing, connecting, alive and present and creates a sweetness and warmth all of its own, which can help to soften the fear.
I found a profound quote from Eckhart Tolle which reminds me of a powerful truth;
“It is through Gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up”
I felt the direct experience of this quote when I was balancing precariously on top of our sunken canoe. Being present and with gratitude for the company and connection to my friend, for the shadow of the rising moon, for the craft under my feet, for the paddles that we could use to wave around and catch attention with and for the whale watching boat that came to save us! For the lovely people on the boat who cuddled us to warm us up and who fed us lollies to give us energy.
This was a spiritual experience of being present. It wasn’t all mystical, covered in stars, dreamy, foggy or surreal. It was real. It was present. It was raw and it was beautiful. This is the spiritual dimension in action. Here to feed us, to be lived from, to be honored and nurtured and to be grateful for any time we care to open to it.
And then there’s the post fear, stress and trauma recovery…
When our body goes into a fight or flight mode of fear and stress we start to burn through extra nutrients to help feed the nervous system and muscles, which get switched into overdrive and can make us feel more exhausted than usual. It’s important afterwards to allow the body recovery time from times of extra stress and trauma.
Some strategies I have found useful in the post-stress and fear recovery phase include;
- Extra sleep and relaxation time to do nothing except day dream and process.
- Extra nutrients including; magnesium, B vitamins and nervine herbs and warming, nutritious, wholefoods.
- Physical connection including; cuddles, touch, massage, bubble baths, love, soft environments and being warm.
- Expressing your feelings and emotions with safe people to help you process your experience and to help release and heal the trauma.
- Meditation, reflection, journaling, spiritual guidance through books, therapy sessions and healings, bio dynamic osteopathic cranial sacral treatment and other body work like acupuncture can also help us come back into our body system and re-balance the nervous system.
It’s important to remember that everyone is impacted by stress and fear in such different ways and each of us needs to deal with the process and recovery in our own unique time and space. We need to acknowledge that there is a process to be had and if you are still not feeling quite right after a big event in your world, please remember that the process usually needs to be supported not only from yourselves but from others as well. So reach out if you need to and be extra kind and gentle with yourself.
So much love, peace and good health to you