Written by Jo Wilson, Swimworks.
The obvious benefits of swimming have been long understood and recognised. Physically, swimming strengthens the heart and lungs, builds muscles and improves balance and coordination. There are also social benefits as it allows children to observe others, make friends and learn to take turns. From a safety perspective, even babies can practise the skills needed to turn to the side, back float, rotate and pull themselves up onto the edge of the pool.
But swimming can give so much more, both to yourself and your little one. I would like you to consider the powerful notion of mindfulness – learning to relax and live in the moment.
In today’s busy world, swimming could have an even greater role to play in teaching parents to live in the moment and connect with their children. The practice of combining essential life skills with mindfulness focuses on facilitating strong, powerful bonds between you and your child.
In our fast-paced daily lives, we are constantly bombarded with images, words and noise. Technology has taken over and can cause us to forget to connect with the people around us.
We have become a society that creates endless lists, where planning and thinking about the future is commonplace, and we sometimes get caught up in comparing our lives with others. Do we have a true sense of identity or have we lost who we are as a result of being surrounded by what others are doing? Are we more preoccupied with recording the moment than we are with enjoying it? How many of us check in daily with our heart and soul, and listen to or feel our breath?
As adults, we often miss the beauty around us, but children are so much better than we are at living in the moment. It is important to slow down, be more mindful, open our hearts and minds, and offer compassion and love not only to each other but ourselves, too.
Swimming can facilitate mindful practises
Attending a mindful swimming session, such as those available at Swim Works, can help increase awareness of the senses, which in turn might help reduce anxieties and fears. Being in the water with your little one will relax you both, ensuring the rest of the world fades into the distance as you focus only on each other.
Ways to practise mindful swimming
1) Offer yourself a couple of moments at the start of your swim to take a deep breath. Relax and check in with yourself. Notice what your body is doing – your breathing, your heart beating and so on.
2) Stand firm in the pool, feeling the floor. Take time to feel balanced, grounded and present in the moment, forgetting daily tasks and focusing only on what you can see, hear and feel in the present.
3) Slow down and savour each moment in the pool, like the simplest splash. Swimming can bring lots of joy naturally as the water brings out our playful side.
Jo Wilson is the founder of Swim Works and Aqua Sensory. Swim Works creates a non-competitive environment for swimming, where parents feel nurtured and safe, and children feel protected. With a state of the art pool and fantastic family-friendly facilities, Swim Works put their hearts and souls into creating a perfect place where you can truly relax, enjoy the water and escape for a precious 30 minutes with your little ones. www.swimworks.co.uk www.aquasensory.com