Control Your Mind: Stay In The Circle
What-if scenarios are counterproductive when you want to stay in control. Melon Dash, author of Conquer Your Fear of Water, created the Miracle Swimming Program to help people overcome lifelong water phobias. In her book, she uses five circles to illustrate the progression from calm to panic.
When you are in control you are completely inside the circle, and you are “present.” In the context of swimming, this means you are aware of the sensations of the water and you are paying attention to where you place your hands with each stroke. You are in reality. If you start thinking about what will happen if you get too tired, your mind leaves the present and goes somewhere else, and the circle starts moving up. The more the circle moves away from its original position, the more scared you become. Because it can happen quickly, you feel the sensation of speed when you are losing control. By the time you are in full panic mode, your mind is only attached to the circle by a thin line and you literally don’t know what you are doing.
Dash teaches her students to head off anxiety by “staying in the circle.” That is, by focusing on immediate sensations, rather than bad things that might happen. This notion of staying present is a fundamental aspect of meditation, as well as an effective stress-management tool. In your mind’s eye, stop the progression of anxiety by focusing on the moment, repeating “I am OK” and pulling the circle down over your feet. Stay in the circle as you practice the open-water skills in this article.