Reflections in a swimming pool...

Reflections in a swimming pool... (IMage shot at Hadshi, near Pune, on the 30th of October, 2009)
Reflections in a swimming pool... (IMage shot at Hadshi, near Pune, on the 30th of October, 2009) | Source

A splash in solitude

It was a fine morning on a holiday and the weather outside was cloudy and cool. I was feeling a bit restless at home when a strong impulse welled within me. I wanted to go to the swimming pool! I wanted to swim. The feeling was very intense and persistent. I told my wife that I had to go and swim.

“Why?”, she asked.
“I don’t know... It is a strong impulse...”

What could I say more than that? An impulse is defined as a sudden and strong desire to act often without a reason. And here I was, having an impulse. I went along with my impulse and soon was at the Sai Ganesh swimming pool on the airport road in Puttaparthi.

I entered the pool area and saw that there was not a single soul around. But the gates were open and I walked in. I undressed and was about to take a dive into the pool when I saw the watchman looking at me.

“Is it closed?” I asked.
“No sir. Nobody has come today. Go ahead. Enjoy your swim.”
He said this and walked away.

Way to Sai Ganesh Hill View Resorts swimming pool

Loneliness vs Solitude

I dived straight into the pool and the cold splash felt wonderful. Moving underwater for a few feet, I gently resurfaced and lay on my back. As the water settled from the turbulence of my splash, my mind seemed to settle too. A strong breeze was blowing and all the trees around the pool were swaying. Many leaves dropped into the pool too. A cuckoo flew out of a tree while a group of bulbuls kept prancing about on a nearby branch. I felt strangely happy and at peace.

In that tranquil moment, I had an epiphany.

I was all alone and yet was not lonely. I was in fact feeling a beautiful bond with the birds and the bees; the flowers and the trees. This kinship seemed to extend towards everything around me - the water, the land and the air. How could I be lonely when I was surrounded by such beauty and bliss? Loneliness becomes solitude when you are able to feel the common thread that runs through everything that you see and feel around you.

That thread has been given many names but that is a different line of thought.

In a joyous mood, I began my swimming routine. My goal was to better my personal record of 25 laps in an hour. The swimming pool is about 17-18 meters in length and so, one lap will be about 35 meters. 25 laps is about 875 meters. My goal was to swim one kilometer today. That meant swimming at least 29 laps.

Source

What comes first?

Even as I was swimming, my thoughts went to the time when I was learning swimming. I had a slight fear of water. I realized that I was in a Catch-22 situation. I did not want to enter that water till I was able to swim. However, there was no way I could learn how to swim unless I entered the water. So, what was I to do? Learn how to swim first? Or get into water first?

The resolution of the problem happened when I took my plunge of faith. These questions cannot be resolved separately. They have to be resolved simultaneously!

Even the memory of how I picked up swimming brought another epiphany. Life is like a swimming pool by itself. For one who has not learned how to ‘swim’ in it, it presents a scary proposition. But, then, one cannot learn how to ‘swim’ in it till one ‘dives’ into it in a leap of faith.

That is a nice insight. Fear and the resolution of the fear happen simultaneously. One cannot happen without the other. They are two sides of a coin. When life tosses a problem/fear to me, the solution/resolution is also there. I just need to take my leap of faith.

Fulfillment of a goal

The most powerful experience of the day however had not yet occurred to me. I was swimming with a purpose. I had a target to achieve - 29 laps in one hour.

The first five minutes were very fulfilling. Fresh with all my energy, I swam a good three laps. That felt good and nice. I made some quick calculations. If I could swim three laps in five minutes, I would be able to do 36 laps in an hour at that rate. That meant, I would be easily able to achieve my target of 29 laps.

The next ten minutes, I did complete six more laps but I was getting tired. My muscles ached and lungs gasped for precious oxygen. It was sheerly my determination that I did another nine laps in the next 15 minutes. At the end of the first half hour, I was at 18 laps. And I was feeling quite tired. I would surely not be able to keep up that pace. 18 laps in half an hour surely did not mean 36 laps in an hour. But, I thought, if I carried on in a determined way, I would definitely achieve my target of 29 laps.

Each lap that I did after the halfway mark seemed more difficult than the previous one. I was literally burning my shoulder muscles and gasping as I did my 24th lap when it happened. It happened so suddenly and strongly.

My lungs seemed to have suddenly enlarged. My muscles got renewed energy out of the ordinary. I began swimming better and faster than I did when I first hit the pool in the afternoon! In fact, I did four laps in a five minute interval! At the end of the hour, I had definitely achieved my goal and much more. I had done a total of 40 laps! That meant, I had done 4 laps more in a ‘tired’ state, in the second half of the hour!

The power of perseverance...
The power of perseverance... | Source

The second wind

I was so amazed at what had happened that I began to wonder what had happened. Was it a miracle? Did some blessings descend on me from above? How did I get that tremendous surge of energy?

Researching on the world wide web, I came across the term called the second wind where an athlete experiences this surge of energy immediately after reaching a stage of near-exhaustion. I hungrily read everything available about the second wind. The explanation, that I understood, is something like this.

The human body gets energy by breaking down glucose, which is stored in the muscles. This reaction releases lactic acid, which the body must burn. Otherwise, there is a lactic-acid buildup that causes cramps. But, burning lactic acid requires oxygen. If the body does not breathe in enough oxygen, the athlete experiences an oxygen-debt. So, to overcome this, the heart beats more quickly; the lungs begin to gasp; the muscles fatigue and slow.

And then, in one magical moment (nobody is sure as to when exactly this happens), the body strikes a balance between the incoming oxygen and the rate of lactic-acid breakdown. Now, lactic acid is burned constantly and converted into water and carbon dioxide. Once lactic acid levels come down, the athlete experiences the ‘second wind’ and since the lactic-acid metabolism has achieved an optimum rate, the athlete seems to be more energetic than ever!

There are only two kinds of people who do not experience this ‘second wind’:

1. Olympians who have enough lung capacity and cardiovascular fitness to avoid oxygen debt in the first place.
2. ‘Couch potatoes’ who do not have the ability to push themselves at the point of greatest oxygen-debt and lowest energy levels.

Shirdi Baba asked the devotees only for Shraddha and Saburi - faith and perseverance.
Shirdi Baba asked the devotees only for Shraddha and Saburi - faith and perseverance. | Source

Lessons for life

Again, is this not the case in life too? When faced with a tough situation - mentally or spiritually - in life, all one needs to do is persevere. It is not an easy thing though, this perseverance. But if done, it is sure to bring in the ‘second wind’. The second wind is called many things - good luck, fortune, God’s grace, serendipity. But the fact is that it exists. And when that kicks in, one is simply amazed at one’s own capacity! But if one is a ‘couch potato’, one will not be able to persevere. The silent and strong faith in the ‘second wind’ is an absolute necessity for a determined perseverance. Once you have this faith, the perseverance comes. And once there is faith and perseverance, the ‘second wind’, call it by any other name that you wish, surely kicks in.

Isn’t that the reason why Sri Shirdi Sai Baba demanded just two qualities from the devotees - Shraddha (faith) and Saburi (perseverance).

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Comments 21 comments

Arularasi 20 months ago

When life tosses a problem/fear , the solution / resolution is also there . It just needs us to take our leap of faith. How true it is right now for a life situation i am going through. With swamis grace took that leap of faith yesterday and today i happened to read this post. It was as though swami is showing me that what i am doing regarding my life situation right now is from my heart and guided by swamis love. Thank u swami and brother aravind.

R


Viji, kolkatta 2 years ago

Sai ram I too was in a critical situation your article gave me a booster about perseverance .


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aravindb1982 2 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@Vikas Rao:

Perseverance is a magical, nay miraculous virtue. All the best for your life challenges which i am sure you will overcome with your grit and perseverance. If my reading is right, even by the time you read this reply, you will already be faring much better. :)

Shall say a prayer for you...


Vikas Rao 2 years ago

I enjoy reading any article related to Swami. But this one was totally different. It just had a pic of Swami by the side of the pool. But nothing describes here about any of devotee's experience with Swami. What i really loved reading about this article was that it came to my attention at the right time wherein I could completely relate to two topics here. Firstly about Perseverance (the second wind) and Swimming. Coz today I'm standing at a juncture in life where there seems to be total uncertainty. I don't know where i'm headed next. I've failed in life miserably... in terms of marriage and job. So reading this article gives me a ray of hope that if i maintain perseverance, may be there is something better in store for me. And secondly, it was about Swimming because i go for swimming daily these days and assign targets to my laps and try to increase them every week. So, in both the ways this article was totally relevant to me :-)


Aarthi 3 years ago

Can u describe how exactly you got the epiphany? It would be interesting to know. I too had some similar experiences in the past. One that I can share here is what happened in Dec 2012, 2 days prior to Christmas. I got a very clear epiphany, which hit me like a ton of bricks. And I thanked Swami for it.

'Word of the Father now in flesh appearing' -- so ran the line from the famous Christmas Carol 'O come all ye faithful'. As I sang this carol within myself, this particular line hit me like a thunderbolt and for a few seconds I just didn't know how to react.

Why? Because it just dawned upon me so strongly that our Bhagawan is 'The Father' who sent His beloved son Jesus Christ to earth. Jesus was the embodied form, in flesh and blood, of the Word of Truth of the Father. And The Father out of His immense love for mankind Himself came to earth again in the form of Sri Sathya Sai to teach humanity the gospel of love, forbearance, service and sacrifice.


Dr sanjay aggarwal Solan 3 years ago

Arvind Bhai, an excellent physio-spiritual analogy. Swimming in waters of life with Lac-ticking acid all around is an art with the artist of living Bhagavan.


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aravindb1982 3 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@Madhusudhanvithal - :) I am not sure that simply lying down leads to lactic-acid buildup. Lactic acid builds up in times of excess activity - when the body's respiration rate is not fast enough to break down the glucose completely into CO2 and H2O. That is why, the breakdown stops at the intermediate, lactic acid, stage. :)

However, there is no harm in trying out...

@Rambofen044 - Thank you for stopping by... and for the comment. :)


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rambofen044 3 years ago from Raipur

Very interesting and helpful....Thanks for sharing


Madhusudanvithal 3 years ago

Sairam Arvind and thanks for another excellent article, must read by all. Now I know the reason why I get cramps, specially when I am lying down / sleeping. I was never physically very active in life, but am not also a couch potato, so I need to burn those lactic acid releases in my body by increased physical activity. Hope to figure out how!


sai santosh 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing!


Lakshmi Gopal 3 years ago

So aptly written . Thanks for sharing .


Venu 3 years ago

Very nice. No wonder Swami always spoke of Patience, Purity and Perseverance, the 3P's


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aravindb1982 3 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@SaiSarannaga - Thank you. Wow! The effort that you describe is surely a wonderful one. You experience only strengthens the theory of the second wind!

Thank you for sharing...

Sairam


saisarannaga 3 years ago from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India.

Fine Aravind. It evoked a similar memory long back. I was given a task of translating Swami's speeches of 1966 by my Samithi for publishing the 29th volume. Tamilnadu Organisation has started publishing the Tamil version. I was quite new to translation works. Any way i agreed to complete it within fifteen days! I had to do around 20 speeches roughly and other members shared the rest out of 50 chapters. When i started translating, i found the troubles. It was not easy. Correct equivalents of Engilish words were little bit difficult. Then i left it at the hands of Swami for undertaking this onerous job. Each day i was sitting at the computer for more than six to seven hours, translating sentence by sentence and typing them in Tamil keys. Fortunately, i learned tamil typewriting long ago as a hobby and the same helped me at this juncture. Slowly i was making little progress. When exhausted, somehow Swami made me to sit continuously to finish the task in time. Then i realized that had i not persevered, i would not have finished even one chapter! Thank you once again for the thought provoking hub!


Aarthi 3 years ago

Very inspiring bro! :) Wonderful insights! I guess perseverance does pay off but when we don't know. All I know is I have to hold on...


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aravindb1982 3 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@Maria:

You hit the nail on the head granny! :)

There are explanations of how this "second wind" is not just a physical phenomenon but also "being in the zone" phenomenon! :)

And you have put it so beautifully -

"breakthrough occurs if we have enough faith to see you through our rough spots of indeterminable lengths"...

Thank you


Maria 3 years ago

Wonderful account as always..What you described is called hitting the ZONE, not withanding your bio physcial explanation a break through to a mental space happens for the well trained athletes of whatever sport i.e runners in marathone events, whenever they preservere through the agony they'll hit the zone then sprint to the finish line . Relating the state to faith is where our human timingis unreliable the answer, the attainment or the breakthrough occurs if we have enough faith to see you through our rough spots of indfeterminable length , we must use preserverance to reach the goal without predictable or measureable time ,still only preserverance works.


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aravindb1982 3 years ago from Puttaparthi, India Author

@darshi - It is there! When you turn on to the hospital road at the Ganesha circle, the swimming pool comes to the right, just before the gas station! :)


darshi 3 years ago

Ok first of all forgive my ignorance but there is a pool in Parthi? :o

Man if only I had known!

Loved this immensely. Reminded me of many things from the recent trip :)

Ps. Now I feel like taking a long swim too! :)


Sarala Jagannathan 3 years ago

Very well written Arvind..enjoyed reading this..Sairam


Shruti 3 years ago

Beautiful... :)

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