Home 2024 Freediving


by Smruti Mirani
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In the silence of the ocean, she found her song. 

I always thought of myself as many things – a daughter, a sister, an engineer, a woman, an adventurous spirit, or even an introvert – but, only recently, an island girl. 

I never knew that going to Andamans on a one-way ticket in January 2022 would not only get me over heartbreak but give my life more meaning and a new direction. There I was, having the time of my life – living, scuba diving, and working remotely on Havelock Island. And, before I knew it, I fell so much in love with the ocean and the island life, that I said goodbye to my city life.

It was just another day on Havelock Island and just another snorkelling session with my island diver friends, or so I thought. But, oh, was I wrong! We went out there, all excited to spot some turtles and then we spotted a huge sea turtle. My friend, in a sudden, yet smooth movement, dived in to take a closer look at the turtle. Mesmerised by this dive, I asked him, ‘Wow! How did you do that?’. He said, ‘You just hold your breath and dive!’ And, that is how I was introduced to the world of freediving! Years later, the turtle is gone, but the love for freediving remains.

Once I was introduced to freediving, I just could not take my mind off of it. I started researching and found videos of people diving through narrow caves and shipwrecks. It was fate as if, my family and I were anyway planning a trip to Europe. I took this opportunity to plan a few weeks in Malta and started my journey towards freediving. My instructor was a fabulous man, who lived with his partner and their dog and also had a beautiful Airbnb with a cosy pool where he would conduct the freediving workshops. I thought to myself, ‘Someday’!

For an entire week, we would go out there, jump into cold waters, put on our wetsuits, and learn to freedive. I quickly learned that freediving was not just about skills, but more about the harmony between your mind and body. The experience is like no other, as once you build the courage to let go of your fears and dive into the deep blue, you find abundance, bliss, solitude, and true joy. 

When you are ready, you take a deep breath and let go. You start pulling the rope and slowly and steadily you dive deeper into the blue, peeling layers of yourself one at a time. Eventually, when you are in the depths of the ocean, you feel the embrace of the ocean and discover your core self. You cannot help but be in that moment, making it count. As you listen to the silence of the ocean, you accept everything outside and inside you and fall into an embrace in the deep blue. And, as you come back up you appreciate that first breath like no other, you smile while you take it all in. 

You want to do this all over again, but here’s the catch. As you dive deeper into the art or sport of freediving, more of your doubts and fears come to the surface. At least, for me. 

When I first started freediving, being in the water felt like second nature. The first time I held my breath, I could hold it for almost 3 minutes with ease. I was stoked. When we dived, I would dive head first towards a dark cave (following my instructor, of course) and surface on the completely dark side of the cave. 

And, then the fear crept in, the doubts crept in. The core fear, for me, was the fear of failing, especially failing in the eyes of others. The fear that I need to be good enough to be worthy of love and respect. The Asian culture and mindset that I grew up with were reflected in my approach towards freediving, where I started chasing numbers and depth for something that was supposed to be a deeply spiritual experience. 

I started chasing course after course, and coach after coach, wanting to grow more and learn more about the sport of freediving. The fear was much deeper, as it did not even allow me to learn. I was conscious of what my coaches would think of me and sometimes acted as if everything was okay, even when it wasn’t. Finally, my body could not take it anymore, and I had an internal injury in my throat, which forced me to take a step back and address and overcome my deepest fears. 

So, here’s what I learned from months of reflection, meditation, and working on myself. I started to look at freediving as a way of life – harmony between body, mind, and soul, being fully in the present moment, learning to take ownership of your life and your decisions (it’s only you down there when you dive), and trusting and being there for your partners. 

Breathe in and brave your deepest fears. As you can imagine, freediving became much more to me than just the act of diving and exploring. It became an anchor in my life, which would always tell me the truth if I was being real with myself, or not. Freediving is my truth and allows me to take one step towards the truth every single day. And, the truth is you do not need to look for love or respect, you can choose to unconditionally love and respect yourself. 

You wonder, where am I now in my freediving journey? After months of working on my fears, I am restarting my freediving journey, from scratch, with the right mindset and approach. Every time I enter the water, I come up with a big smile, that even others find contagious. In the future, I hope to keep spreading this love for nature, the ocean, and freediving with many other souls.

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