• Lili A. Sinclaire

Snorkeling, Fears, & Living


For me there are a couple reasons to go to Hawaii - to hike and snorkel. I have to admit, I have some claustrophobic issues. I think this is from my being "playfully" stuffed in a sleeping bag when I was little, but that's another story.


Being claustrophobic, hiking isn't an issue, but snorkeling certainly is.


On my recent trip to the Garden Island, I rented a snorkel and felt excitement sail through me as I made my way out into the clear, blue to float in the water that fills up 71% of Earth’s surface.

After putting the snorkel on, right after the excitment, I felt a sensation I’d had in the past, some twenty-five years before, when I lived on the big island of Hawaii. I felt fear – yup, that yucky thing that takes away our spontaneity, pleasure, and joy.


I recalled how long ago, when I was much younger, I’d let go of my fear and snorkeled in the wide, open sea for long periods of time swimming with the fish and turtles. But, on this trip, that freedom from years ago didn’t soak into me. I remained trapped in the cave of my fear. The only thing I thought would flood into me was a bunch of sea water.


It’s important to set our fears aside and just dive into the deep of living. So, that is what I did. I dipped my head into the ocean – what immediately occurred was I couldn’t breathe through the snorkel. Well let me clarify, I didn’t feel like I could breathe through it. But as soon as I pulled my head out of the water, I could breathe fine. Well, that is just silly, the snorkel allows air to travel through at the same rate whether under water or above it!

I’m not a quitter, so I put my head down again and tried to swim. After about ten strokes I was dying - okay, I felt like I was, and I continued to feel like I couldn’t breathe. Little air seemed to be flowing through the snorkel and swimming made me completely exhausted.


I told the friend I had gone with, “I can’t do this, I’m not in good enough shape.” even though I run every day!


He responded, “Yes, you can do this, just relax. Once you get going, you can float.”

I was thinking, No, I’m not floating, and I can’t BREATHE!

“Just give it another try,” he said encouragingly.


I really did believe, I can’t do it. I’m too old, too out of shape, and there really is not as much air going through the snorkel when I’m in the water as when I’m out of it. Well, I think we all KNOW that is just NOT true.


So, I mustered up that courage that exists down inside us, and I put the snorkel back on. Taking a deep breath, I dove back into that big, beautiful, deep, blue sea. I breathed, in and out, I swam, and I floated.


Wow, it’s such an amazing feeling to really be with the ocean! My body, mind, and that place deep within me remembered how to breathe while in the ocean (with the snorkel) as my body floated along watching fish and feeling completely one with the universe I lived in.


It’s GREAT not to give up – to keep trying – to believe we can overcome our fears, that often times are not based in reality!


The thing I found most amazing about this experience was how my mind made up the belief that I couldn’t get much air under the water, but it wasn’t true at all.

Our minds are extremely powerful. It’s empowering to know I can notice my thoughts, beliefs, and feelings and alien them with real life right here, right now whether I’m swimming in the ocean, or walking around on the earth.

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