“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” – Jamie Paolinetti
Limitation: the quality or state of being limited or restricted. I like this definition because it reflects my way of thinking about limitations. Or at least it used to.
We might have a limitation of our upbringing, age, education, social status, wealth or health. We often think we don’t have enough strength, motivation, money or time to go where we would like to go, to achieve what we would like to achieve. I could probably go on with such examples and I wouldn’t list them all.
With this state of mind, I went for a holiday to Goa, where my way of thinking (and I) was challenged and proven wrong.
Goa – India’s smallest but richest state, tucked into the South-West coast. One of the most desired holiday destinations from travellers around the world. Goa fascinates with its diversity: the lively North with world’s best nightlife and the peaceful South with its mindfulness, yoga retreats and slow pace of life. Still, no matter where you go, you can enjoy Goa’s alluring beaches of The Arabian Sea, Portuguese-influenced villas, multi-ethnic heritage and mouth-watering Indian cuisine. I deliberately chose the South and was charmed with its laid-back atmosphere, delightful food and obviously the retreat’s activities, ranging from yoga classes, meditation and massages to reenergize sessions.
But that wasn’t enough for me. I was looking for something more daring. And just when I thought that canyoning with a bunch of crazy folks looking for the same excitement was the most adventurous, I went for the Watsu Water Therapy. I had never thought that it would change my way of thinking and would trigger unexpected sequence of events.
On the web, I read that Watsu is an aquatic blend of massage and breath work in water. ‘Not a problem for me’, I thought, being a good swimmer and treating water as my best friend since I can remember! Being open to new sensations and encouraged by my lovely hosts, shortly after I was heading down in a rickshaw to experience the unknown.
In Agonda – 10 km away from the Patnem beach – I was welcomed by Daniel Aber. He is a qualified water dance practitioner and therapist, who patiently explained what would happen in the next hour or so and gave me some instruction on water moves and breathing. And we began. I closed my eyes and let Daniel move my loose body in different directions on the warm water surface. The motions were soft and gentle with water playing the role of masseur. I was enjoying the experience and felt calm & relaxed. After 30 minutes, the time had come to hold my breath and go under the water surface. And then everything suddenly changed. I felt an overwhelming feeling of heaviness, shortage of breath and body stiffness. As we continued, I was trying to relax again but was unsuccessful. All the positive impressions were far gone. Finally, after 1 hour I was happy it was over, and I left the pool feeling disappointed, not with Watsu but with myself.
“He then shared his observations which were surprisingly spot-on. The scary thing was that they were not only relevant to the session itself. They were relevant to how I perceived my abilities and more precisely my limitations.”
To wrap up the session, Daniel asked the question: how did you feel? ‘Not that great’ I replied. He then shared his observations which were surprisingly spot-on. The scary thing was that they were not only relevant to the session itself. They were relevant to how I perceived my abilities and more precisely my limitations.
So, what really happened? Well, during the session I was limited by my belief that I can’t hold my breath for more than 10 seconds and I was indeed smothering after 5. This resulted in me taking as much air as possible into my lungs and floating on the water surface as a puffed balloon. I was constantly focusing on my next dive to make sure I have enough oxygen. This fear disabled me to let my body go, let me limbs float and eventually to loosen up. My belief was my limitation. My limitation was in my head. My head told me ‘you can’t do it’. And my body listened, I couldn’t.
That evening, I took some time-off from the Goan attractions and spent the time reflecting. Next morning, I signed up straightaway for another Watsu session. This time, however, I approached it with an entirely different believe. Free from limitations, with trust in Daniel and more importantly trust in myself. Trust and confidence that I can hold my breath for 1 to 3 minutes just like an average human being.
And I did. I felt the difference instantly. And the difference was tremendous. I could breathe easily and naturally without any tension. I didn’t feel neither shortage of breath nor anxiety. With that, I let my whole body loose and surrender to the moves Daniel was creating. With a tender sound of water dripping in my ears the feeling was mind-blowing. Deep relaxation and pure pleasure of not being attached to anything, enjoying free body movement. I was truly daydreaming. The experience was beautiful, and I felt beautiful. It was like going back to the very beginning: my mother’s womb – natural, safe, loved and fully accepted.
The Watsu Water Therapy proved it to me very clearly. Everything is in our heads as we create our own limitations and fears. How about we imagine there are no limitations? What would you do?
‘Everything is in our heads as we create our own limitations and fears. How about we imagine there are no limitations? What would you do?’
A closing thought: did you know that human world’s record of staying under water without a single breath is 22 minutes 22 seconds? The more we practice, the longer we can hold our breath. Luckily, it works the same with all the other things in our lives. So, what is it that you will be practicing today to outcompete your limitations?