Ever thought of SCUBA as mental and respiratory rehabilitation? And what’s the reason that brain, breath and lungs are linked in healing and recovery? Well one organ is obvious, but I’ll just remind you that as an ‘end user’, the brain is the most voracious consumer of oxygen, 4 minutes without it and the brain dies, unless under hypothermic conditions. Enter SCUBA, singing, yoga, tai chi and meditation… All these activities have major physiological influence if indulged as forms of relaxation and breath work is at their core.
Do you have chronic sinusitis, allergies or ENT problems? Do you have CONTROLLED asthma? Do you have BEGINNING COPD? Are you depressed? Are you a recovering substance abuser (yep! alcohol, drugs, nicotinic smoke)? In all cases you must get medical and dive instructor clearance if you want to try SCUBA but if you’re eligible to participate and the idea of SCUBA appeals to you, you’re in for a long term treat.
I’m talking to you from sunny Jamaica so I’ll tell you that when I dived, I used to wonder why the world looked so wonderful when I came up after a half an hour floating around. It had to do with improved gas exchange, the rhythm of the air and other movement, release of endorphins, soothing sound and three things common to SCUBA alone on a regular basis, the illusion of no gravity, the sea and often wonderful visual stimulation. SCUBA, yoga, meditation, tai-chi and singing all involve a combination of at least 4 of the elements listed so let’s look at each of these elements and the ‘SCUBA specials’ as related to healing and recovery.
Comparing the 5 relaxation options, SCUBA and meditation are like going for a gentle walk and the other three are more structured so that they can feel like a gentle walk or a sprint. Now reach way back and think of yourself in the womb – you were floating around, completely relaxed and listening to and feeling the steady rhythms of your mother’s breath and your own and her heartbeat. This is the primal link to the effect on us of these 5 forms of relaxation.
Some integrative practitioners do prescribe singing, tai chi, yoga and meditation to clients but I haven’t met any who include SCUBA. I’m going to walk you through what SCUBA is good for, because apart from what it’s done for me, I know two recovering addicts whom I would call ‘recovered’ due to SCUBA – their lives have been completely turned around. So if other forms of breathing exercise seem boring to you – again, after medical and instructor clearance – try SCUBA.
Air – it’s filtered pure air under high pressure, no allergens or pollutants. When else do your brains and lungs get such a treat? The more you oxygenate a brain (I did not say hyperoxygenate!) that is depressed or addicted the better its chances of ‘rewiring’ itself. This is deep breathing for fun – they tell you breathe normally but both the environment and the air are pressurised so the effect is like deep breathing and you know they tell you to deep breathe for mental and respiratory rehab.
Sound – SCUBA produces what artists and sound people and scientists call ‘pink noise’, a rhythmic background sound – your own breathing – and it’s quite marked under water. Other examples are the heartbeat and waves on the shore. Hearing the sound of rhythmic breathing relaxes depressed or addicted brains when they are in an environment in which they feel comfortable and safe. The pitch of the sound is all encompassing and seems to move in and out of your body with your breath.
Deep breathing exercise of the breathing apparatus – all the lung tissue, auxiliary apparatus and muscles get exercised in a non-stressful way that strengthens them and improves gas exchange over time, very important in early/controlled chronic lung conditions. Improvement of the condition can be marked. And remember your cilia…the little wisps in your respiratory mucosa that help move out the mucus…they really get a work out with deep breathing.
Floating – if you’re not an astronaut or skydiver, you will not find another way to experience 0 gravity and it is magical – on a regular basis an emotionally battered mind responds to this totally new experience and sensation – the mind’s usual thought tendencies about negative things and fixations get highjacked by complete change of environmental sensations. The physical pains of depression in the limbs and joints can vanish.
Sight – the vast majority of your information comes in through your eyes and underwater this sense falls into the pattern of helping to highjack jaded thought, you never know just what you’ll see – some really lovely and exciting things never seen on land or finding things other people have dropped or lost.
The antibiotic sea and changing pressures – flush your entire ear, nose and throat and deep respiratory areas and kill bacteria with the salt and minerals – this can lead to decreased congestion, sinusitis and allergies.
Endorphins – the end result of all this stuff is the release of endorphins – our own natural pleasure chemicals, they attach themselves to our opioid receptors in the brain and help to encourage us into happier moods, healthier habits and decreased pain.
STOP PRESS! DR. GUPTA ON CNN JUST REVEALED THAT SCUBA IS ALSO GREAT THERAPY FOR PARTIAL PARALYSIS!!! APPARENTLY THE NITROGEN FORCED INTO TO BLOOD JACKS UP YOUR SEROTONINS WHICH HELPS STRENGTHEN MUSCLES WITH LONG LASTING EFFECT! LEADING TO IMPLICATION THERE MAY BE A NEW WAY TO REVERSE PARALYSIS!