I nearly drowned on two occasions when I was a little boy between the ages of 18 months and 5 years old. Both times someone had to save me. While I don’t remember the first time, I remember the second time. I was in a swimming pool jumping up and down where the shallow end slopes into the deep. I guess I got a little too close to the slope and went under. It was the first time I remember opening my eyes underwater. All I could see was blurry bright blue broken up with white bubbles. I could not get to the surface. Thank God someone jumped in and saved me! I developed a fear of the water and would not go near it for a couple years.
Not long after, my dad asked a former Navy SEAL to teach me how to swim.  Within a short time, I was a fish.

Years later, I became a competitive swimmer in High School and College. Now, I compete in triathlons and embrace what others fear… The dreaded swim!

How did I learn to breathe under water?
No, I have not developed gills or super powers. Over the years, I have learned to breathe properly in the water. I have found that learning to breath reaches beyond the water into the most important areas of life.

Holding your breath while underwater causes stress, saps energy and can be dangerous. I know what you are thinking, “If I take in a breath underwater, I could drown!” Yes, you could. I DO NOT recommend inhaling water. Instead, exhale underwater. When your face is underwater, you should be exhaling through your mouth, nose or both. A steady stream of bubbles should be coming forth.

Studies have shown that swimmers who hold their breath are slower, lack endurance and fatigue earlier than swimmers who are constantly exhaling under water. Don’t believe me? Try holding your breath for a minute or two. Pay attention to how your body reacts to holding your breath. It causes stress and rapid heart rate. Your body freaks out a little bit.

So, what?
“You know your problem, you keep it all in!”
Sometimes life can deal us wild cards. There are some things that we have no control over. In fact, control is an illusion (a topic for another day). When the trials of life arise, it can ‘feel’ like you are going to drown. So, we hold your breath while trying to get through the trial, thinking we are in survival mode. In reality, we are causing more harm than good to ourselves and those close to us.

Learn to breathe underwater and you will live better out of the water.
Nothing against yoga breathing exercises or breathing meditation. I’ve tried them all at length. They all contain benefits that improve our reactions to stress. However, nothing can touch the benefits of disciplined practice of breathing in the water. Do it and you will start to see improvements in other areas of life.

You don’t have to be a swimmer to learn this stuff. Just take baby-steps. When you purposely put your head underwater, you are committed. Once you have committed, its time to teach your body to deal with being uncomfortable. Time to allow a few bubbles to escape and enjoy watching them float to the surface. Growth occurs when we are most uncomfortable!

Here are some links to help you try this out.

Do you find yourself holding your breath in life?