Paddling or Swimming?

by | Feb 6, 2023 | Uncategorised

For me as a child it was Polzeath in Cornwall: the opportunity to take off shoes and socks, roll up trousers and splash about in the rock pools or small inland seas we had created with our buckets and spades… paddling at its best!

As time progresses, we are encouraged to go a little bit deeper, but only with the safety of a teacher or lifeguard. At primary school we had an outdoor pool and I remember how cold it was as we splashed and gasped across the 5m or so to the other side. Most of all, I remember the mangle we used to squeeze the water out of our swimming trunks! Many years later, I was a lifeguard and trained swimming teacher myself.

Like paddling and swimming, mindfulness also works on a continuum between having a little bit of fun from time to time, right through to a learnt daily practice with proven health benefits.

If we go paddling, which doesn’t require much preparation or prior learning, we enjoy the moment, have a little fun until something else catches our attention. Walking through the aisles of the local supermarket, I often see ‘Mindful colouring books’, ‘Mindful’ sewing’ and speak to people who use ‘Mindfulness Apps’ on their phones. All of these are great for short, unplanned moments which can bring a momentary escape – just like paddling.

However, if you want to go swimming, to be safe you need to learn how to do it properly. A non-swimmer wouldn’t just wade into the water and set off hoping to emerge the other side! Even those who can swim a bit, would do so with a lifeguard present. Some may choose to do this daily, knowing the health benefits of a regular practice – this is mindfulness. A structured, evidence-based, daily workout for your mental health. I no longer teach swimming and my lifeguard qualification has lapsed. I do still teach mindfulness and I have kept my qualifications and national registration up to date. So, if you would like to go ‘swimming’ rather than ‘paddling’, if you would like to develop a daily mindfulness practice to benefit your mental health as opposed to paddling around with the alternatives – please let me know.

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