Updated: Jan 17
Marian Conneely (Ní Chonghaile) @ thrivewithmarian.com is a Galway based life coach, a lover of sea swimming and an advocate of self-care & self-love.
Take one day at a time:
Sea swimming has taught me to take one day at a time. Some days the sea is wild and rough, and so I accept that I can enjoy the view whilst staying safe from the elements. In the early days I used to get a little frustrated that I couldn't just jump into the sea to swim but I have learned to accept that the sea changes, just as we do. Nothing is static. The sea is as powerful a force as the mind. I have learned that I have full control over my mind and thoughts, and not external forces.
That I can do whatever I set my mind to:
I have done summer sea swimming for years and always thought I would love to try it for winter but of course when September arrived, I always chickened out. We were in the middle of Covid lock-down last year and I thought to myself, this is my year to try winter sea swimming. It has been the best decision I've made for myself in a very long time. Some days I join a soulful group and other days I just go to the beach alone, knowing that I will meet like-minded swimmers. During the last lock-down I joined my beautiful cousin as part of a bubble and we have truly embraced each other's company enjoying the musical sea ripples, dancing waves and powerful swells. We both feel blessed to have this activity to share, and look forward to being old ladies looking back on the positivity of these times.
Creid san draíocht agus leanfaidh sé tú.
The magic that makes it easier is that I truly believe in myself that I can do it. Before each swim I remind myself ‘I can do this’ ‘the water is beautiful’. The support of others has been truly important but I feel it's the belief in myself and my commitment to my well-being that keeps me focused.
The importance of practicing gratitude:
For years I've practiced gratitude daily but it is the sea that truly helped me to reconnect with nature. I practice gratitude in the sea and now it has become a ritual with my swimmer friends. We always express one thing we are grateful for during every swim. I quietly meditate on everything I am grateful for and most especially the precious moments the sea and nature have brought to my life since lock-down started here in Ireland.
I value every moment in the sea and my favourite moment is to float on my back and watch the clouds fly by. It truly is an incredible experience. I find that it helps me to believe and trust in myself. I look forward to visiting the Dead Sea someday and enjoying a day of floating, and warmth!
Mindset is key:
A positive mindset is key when creating a lasting healthy habit. Setbacks are natural and some days I hear that inner voice saying ‘maybe not today’ or ‘It's really cold out, I’ll stay cosy’. It's important to stop that inner voice, put on your swimsuit and just go for it. I learned that it is essential to push myself on cold tougher days. I do this by reminding myself of the benefits and how I always feel after my swim. Daily challenges help us to grow personally.
Bí faoi dhraoíocht ag ceol na farraige.
Face my fears:
For years I feared swimming out of my depth and I know this fear came from a childhood memory where I panicked in a pool when I was on holidays in America and this fear lingered. Slowly but surely I've accepted the fear, taken ownership of the fear and now I focus on enjoying the moment and not panicking. It's something I am still working on but I certainly feel calmer.
This journey has truly helped me to face my fears both in the sea and in my own personal life. The sea brings an element of unease, especially swimming out of your depth. If you can overcome the fear, you will never go back. The sea brings a feeling of exhilarating freedom. I always bear in mind that the sea is powerful and must be respected at all times.
Connect with my inner child:
The sea has helped me connect with my inner child. From the moment I get into the car, I play loud music, arriving at the beach stripping down to my swimsuit in the freezing cold and immersing my body into cold water. It's a different feeling every day but we laugh, we play in the waves and chat about life’s ups and downs. I find it doesn't matter what my thoughts are before I swim or how my day was, I totally absorb the moment. Each swim brings a calm mind and a beautiful grounding experience.
The company of others and the flask of hot tea is a bliss afterwards. If you are thinking of beginning, take one step at a time, listen to your body and get dressed quickly afterwards. Enjoy. :)
“Dance with the waves, move with the sea, let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” Christy Ann Martine
Ardú croí, sonas is spraoi.