I Can Do It!

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”
David Hockney

 “If you can dream it, you can do it.
Walt Disney

I did something a little different this morning. I “escaped” from Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. What I mean is that I was part of a group of swimmers that swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco for fun. It’s about a mile and a quarter swim and is known for strong currents and cold water. What I love about this swim (and all the open water swimming that I do) is that there always feels like there are so many life lessons that I get from the water. As I was swimming along today (and especially when I got stuck in a current and wasn’t moving at all!) I had time to ponder some of these lessons….

What you resist persists. Most people on a spiritual path have heard this expression before and I use it every time I start a swim. The water is cold. At different times of the year it can range in the summer to the low 60’s and in the winter as low as 48 degrees. But here’s the thing: when I enter the water if I clench my teeth and brace myself for the cold and resist what I am feeling – guess what? It feels really, really cold! But when I surrender into it, when I relax and breathe and actually embrace the cold, my body adjusts in a minute or so and it feels amazing. (OK I must admit I do sometimes utter a few swear words – but you get the point!)

What you focus in on grows. This is the main philosophy of New Thought Teaching – and it sure applied to my swim this morning. Alcatraz has always had the reputation that if prisoners tried to escape they would be swept out to sea by strong currents, or that the sharks would get them, or that they would freeze from the cold. What I have learned in all my Bay swims is that if I focus on those kind of thoughts, or wonder what could be below me in the murky water, or let my mind wander off into any kind of negative thoughts – I couldn’t do the swim. But if I allow myself to literally keep my head up and look around from time to time at all the beauty, smell the fresh air, check in with my team mates and support them – my mind can’t even go to those dark places and I wind up having a fabulous fun swim.

To give is truly to receive. I actually have done this swim about ten times…and although it’s always challenging and you don’t know what the conditions will be, I am pretty confident in my ability to finish the swim. Today I had the best experience I ever had because I was supporting the other swimmers from my masters swim team who had never done this swim. A few were a little nervous – and it felt great to do a little prayer with them before we jumped in. One of my friends had a fear that she would be left behind and swimming alone, and it made it so much more fulfilling for me to swim in support of her – checking to see if she was okay and finishing the race together.

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Ever since I started swimming in the bay around 30 years ago, it has always been the place that felt sacred and holy and felt like I was having a spiritual cleansing every time I would enter the water. The gift that I received today in swimming with this fabulous group of people is that the fun factor went up 10 fold and I got re-energized in how much I love it. This experience has led me to feel confident about being open to new things and new challenges, and I find I am asking myself, “Well if you can do that – what is the next big fun thing”?

So the question this month is: What is one thing you can do in your life that would be empowering, challenging and fun?

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