Snorkeling and Mindfulness of Thoughts

by Cindy Stocken

The water is warm and clear. As I float in the rhythmic Omani waves I breath slowly and deliberately through the snorkel. The fish flitter around me as the light shines through the water creating patterns on the rocks. This is a moment of peace. There are so many fish here. I could see a few from above but when I dip my head below the movement of life astounds me. Life of all shapes, colours and sizes swim, float and grow in the reef.

The current of the water creates a swell like breath – inhale and exhale. Fish and plants (and I) surrender to it and are moved by it. The fish themselves remind me of thoughts. This feels like a mindfulness meditation. Just instead of watching my thoughts without judgement, I am watching fish. Big, small, colourful, interesting, some that move in schools, and little boxy ones that look like they could puff up into balls of spikes when frightened (my thoughts do this often!). Really unusual fish have me enthralled for a little longer and I follow them a bit and then, as they duck beneath a rock or I find another fish, I return to the swell of the waves and breath. Much like thoughts.

I don’t know the names or even the species of the fish so my brain occupies itself by saying “blue one, stripey one, lots of small red ones, really big green one, black boxy one”. Even when it does recognise a fish it knows it doesn’t know enough to create a story and simply moves on. I watch with open curiosity as they eat, engage, and as they, just as curiously, approach and check out this large bug-eyed creature that I am. This is how a mindfulness of thoughts practice can look – just watching and observing without getting attached – just watching your thoughts swim and float. Feeling your emotions as the warm and cool currents. Seeing the core beliefs as the coral and rocks that your thoughts feed on and seek shelter in. Not trying to change anything but just witnessing. Knowing that this life and movement is always happening even when you are above the waterline and cannot see it.

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