Thrills that should give you Chills

By happy coincidence, I saw an article on “free-diving” that contains psychological information that neatly supports some of the information in my “20 year old document” page here that hopefully serves to dispel certain notions of just because some adverse physical circumstances can perversely generate pleasing or stimulating mental phenomena  means that these circumstances are overall a positive thing or that the mental states derived are worthwhile.

On this page I touch on concepts from the world of Yoga and meditation that are held up as something positive. “Breath retention is one of the most direct means of effecting changes in consciousness–a fact that has been exploited in many spiritual traditions around the world.  …during the suspension of the breath, the trunk of the body is filled up with life energy….”

In this article appearing in the New York Times, the author relates aspects of his experiences while holding his breath in a non-scuba form of extended diving.

“Those of us who free dive for pleasure… are aware of the risks and challenges. They are part of the attraction. For a while a sort of peace washes through the body as you relax beyond your initial limits. Even as the weight of water begins to squeeze your limbs and organs, your consciousness narrows until your mind feels like a hot copper wire running ever more finely through your core. The experience is both mindless and meditative, painful and pleasurable. This peculiar sensation, which is, I suppose, a kind of overcoming, was and remains addictive.”

The article is mainly a recounting of how one of the stars of this sport willingly pushed himself to the point where he died from the breath suppression of free-diving. Out of the horse’s mouth of today (the article’s author) comes words that should be treated as a caution to those who would still equate things that are mentally-stimulating as worth the cost of what is healthful to the body, even to the point of death.  The full article is here.


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