A little while ago I took a trip to my homeland of Scotland and met up with my cousin, one of the leaders for the Ayr Wild Sea Women.
They are a group that regularly take a dip in the freezing waters off the Ayrshire coast and are attracted by the multitude of benefits. These include but aren’t limited to, boosting your immune system, improving circulation, reducing stress and anxiety and, increasing your libido.
It had been a dreary day drizzling with rain and now as it turned to dusk the wind was also whipping up. Ladies made their way to the edge of the ocean, some coming together and some alone. Some wearing swimsuits others with wetsuits but all with a smile, a smile of knowing. Knowing something that everyone else who stood looking at us incredulously from the safety of the shorefront, wrapped in their jackets and hats and scarves, could never understand.
A secret that only those who dared to dip could appreciate. The water, icy cold, would open itself up to me too but I had to be prepared to relinquish control. And that is something I am not good at doing!
A Moment of Calm
Before we went into the sea, we sat in a moment of meditation. This was hard for me when I was shivering, probably because of the cold but no doubt adrenalin was creeping in too. As the meditation came to its end I let the final words rest with me.
I took a deep steadying breath and got ready to commit to the inky water in front of me.
The waves were white-tipped with the strengthening wind. I took the offer of hands to hold as I stepped out into the sea. Instantly, the cold jarred my legs, and my brain was on full alert mode.
But I kept going.
Many of the ladies had said that once I got my shoulders fully under, it got easier. I was only up to my thighs and that felt like a mission too far!
Some of the ladies were already bobbing in the waves chatting happily, Baywatch style floats lit up in pinks, dotted about the waves. It was now dark and the sight was verging on magical. To the onlooker from the shoreline who hadn’t seen us go in, it must have been a moment to stop and wonder if the mythical legends of the sea had some truth in them.
I was close to getting my shoulders under, but I was struggling to steady my breathing. I could feel panic start to rise; always the way with me when my self-control seems to be wavering.
The cold was all-consuming. Never one to back out of a challenge I set myself, though, I ducked under closed my eyes and stilled myself.
The ladies were right. Although the cold was still enveloping every fibre of my body, the sensation of panic ebbed and, for just a moment, I felt totally transcended to another way of being. A deeply peaceful and serene state, a natural high.
I felt like I’d been in there much longer than the short time I had when I decided to make my way out.
The thing that struck me, as I concentrated on not toppling back into the waves, was the intense heat I felt all over my skin. My wonderful body was in full care mode. Firing everything up to bring heat and circulation. I felt like I must be glowing!
Sitting with my pre-made hot water bottle and warm blankets, watching the others reach the end of their wild sea experience I genuinely got it.
I understood why the pull of the cold sea has so much power.
Why men and women the world over are 100% bought into this and embrace it as a part of their daily existence. For many, it’s a spiritual ritual.
Perhaps one of the most wonderful benefits though is the coming together of souls. No matter who you are, where you are from, or what you do, this gathering brings a sense of unity and deep connection.
The sea, the soul and those who share it.
I suddenly understood the secret behind that knowing smile, and I too smiled deeply, and wholly.
You may find that you are searching for some meaning in your own life just now. Feeling the need for a greater purpose in pursuit of your own goals, one of them may even be to do a wild sea swim! If so, this might help.