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  • Writer's pictureProfessor Leão Preto

Capoeira Under the Sea


You might think that wearing a face mask will prepare you to scuba dive. During a dive, you wear goggles with a mask that covers your nose. You breathe through a mouthpiece with a tube attached to an oxygen tank called a regulator. Unfortunately, the face masks we use to protect ourselves and others from the spread of covid do not provide you with the practice necessary to scuba dive.

There is nothing that I have experienced to date like diving 15ft under the surface of the Caribbean sea. During the 40 minute submerge with my sister and daughter, I felt terror, amazement, and gratitude.

If you have any fear of drowning, like I discovered I do, you must try scuba diving. The experience will force you to wrestle with and pin your fear of death by water.

I learned how to swim in junior high school. Yet, despite taking swim classes twenty-five years ago, I have much more to learn. Yes, I can freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and tread water, but my ten-year-old daughter is a stronger swimmer than me.

My daughter relishes in every one of her swim race wins.

At the beginning and during Sunday’s scuba dive, I panicked. Before we went under the water, I told the crew of DiveCarib that I needed to get back on the boat. I did not like being unable to control my body’s movement against the powerful current. The mental task of focusing on breathing in and out through my mouth with the regulator also felt impossible.

At one point during the dive, I hand signaled to our guide to return to the surface. My brain had enough.

The breathing practices gathered from hours of meditation and yoga did not translate to scuba diving. During yoga and meditation, I often do breathing combinations involving my nose and mouth to release tension in my mind and body. When you scuba dive, your mouth is the only breathing option.

Imagine swimming without pausing to breathe in fresh air for as long as your favorite episode on Netflix. That's about how long we remained underwater; the experience flooded my mind with childhood memories.

I was diagnosed with asthma as a kid. Although I haven’t used an inhaler or had an asthma attack in years, the feeling of having my breathing restricted in any way continues to terrify me. When it happens, my mind jumps from everything is okay to I'm dying!

At the beginning of Sunday's dive, the water and the wind pushed me like a toddler in a pool floaty! That feeling taught me that body confidence on land does not always translate to water. My fifteen years of capoeira training and recent 13 mile Tuesday runs failed me!

Losing control in the water pulled a fear of drowning to the surface of my mind.

When I was a child, I had more than one near-death experience in the deep ends of swimming pools. These traumatic incidents forced habits of always swimming with the awareness of the edge, shallow end, or shore.

When you are in the middle of the sea, swimming to the shore is the last option.

Pushing, pulling, dragging, and ultimately using the fins to kick through the fear of drowning were the only viable options to get the most out of this memorable experience. When I was not panicking and found a way to be present, it felt as if I was visiting another world. The many colors of the tropical fish inside the coral reefs resembled a National Geographic documentary scene.

If you have never had the experience, scuba diving feels like being inside one of the enormous tanks at your local aquarium. It is a mind-blowing and life-altering experience. I told my sister that, "I think I saw God under there!"

It makes you realize how small you are in a vast world that consists of multiple natural environments.

I highly recommend scuba diving with DiveCarib. Their patient, knowledgeable, and professional crew kept us safe and helped us create a memorable experience. The calmness of the DiveCarib crew in the middle of my brain's chaos inspired me to pursue the certification course.

Do you think I'm crazy for wanting to do it again and explore the course?

I believe the certification process will help me flush the fear of drowning from my mind. At a minimum, the training will push me to gain better control of thoughts whenever my breathing is restricted.

The next step is to convince my wife to give me the green light for the investment in the course. After earning certification, I plan to dive quarterly and explore more of the marine world.

With supervision, please do something this weekend that scares you! Commit to reading one of my books. Register for a scuba diving course.

Over the next three to six months, keep an eye on my ID portfolio for a sample course that will use images from my scuba diving experience to help students push back on their mental boundaries and live in their human potential.

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Capoeira Mar Verde

 United Capoeira Association 

Professor Leão Preto

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