Sea swimming clears my mind in a way that nothing else can. Over the years, it has taught me to be mindful and present, helping me to manage anxiety and overwhelm. It even gave me the courage to start a new nature mindfulness business inspired by the sea.
When I started sea swimming a few years ago, I knew it would boost my physical health – but I wasn’t expecting it to have such a powerful impact on my mental health.
Immersed in Cornwall’s wild natural beauty, watching the light sparkling on the waves, seabirds swooping overhead, seals bobbing out by the rocks, and the laughter of my swimming friends nearby – my attention shifted to the beauty of nature all around me. Here, I belonged. And as I focused on my breath and the movement of my body through the water – nothing else mattered but the present moment.
Moving through the initial anxiety that came with getting into the sea each morning slowly taught me how to manage stress more effectively. I learnt how to allow my body and mind to soften into the shock of the cold – to accept it, and simply trust in starting to swim. I discovered that I could apply that same strategy when anxiety, panic or stress rose up in the rest of my life – breathing into it, calming my body, staying mindful and present – and then simply starting to move forward when I was ready.
As a working mum who often struggled to make time for myself, each swim was also a powerful commitment to meeting my own needs. Regardless of whatever else was going on in my life, taking time out for my swim reminded me that looking after myself mattered too.
Time in the water created space to reconnect with myself – to pay attention to what I really wanted and needed. It gently washed away my doubts and insecurities, and my nagging self critical voice. It allowed me to let go of worries about the past, and fears about the future, and to start afresh each morning.
Sea swimming taught me to be more curious, to notice whatever was happening around me – and within me – without judgement. To simply be aware of my emotions as they passed through me like waves – sometimes intense and overbearing, sometimes quiet and calm, just like the sea. It taught me how to practice self compassion – speaking to myself with kindness instead of criticism.
And those daily swims showed me my own courage – even when I found it hard to see that myself. The more I was able to stay present, and simply watch and listen to the sea, the more that experience supported me to explore different aspects of my life. Sometimes time in the sea reminded me to pause, to forgive or release. Sometimes it encouraged me to believe in myself, tend to my resilience or find greater compassion. The more I saw the benefits of each of these – for me, and everyone else I cared about – the more I was able to take better care of myself on land: mind, body and soul.
Then, my sea swimming journey took another unexpected turn. I knew I wanted to find a way to share some of the gifts that the sea had given me with others. And thanks to all that time spent in the water, I found myself able to move through my anxiety, my self doubt, and fears about what could go wrong, and simply be present with a new creative idea. Why not just try, and see what happened?
And soon, Sea Soul Blessings arrived on the tide… They were unlike anything I’d created before – they truly felt like a gift from the sea. So I’ve been both amazed and delighted to watch them rippling out beyond my own little Cornish bay, to become deeply appreciated by sea lovers around the world.
Informed by the sea swimming journey I’ve described here, by years of working as a coach, and by a deep love of nature and storytelling, Sea Soul Blessings are a simple kit (a set of cards and accompanying book) that encourage you to tend to yourself each day, in whatever way suits you best. Empowering, soothing, uplifting and motivating, they make it easy to create your own daily mindfulness routine. You can use them to accompany your swim, or simply draw a card each morning or evening, or whenever you need a boost. Each card guides you to deepen your own connection to the sea and nature, and inspires you to pause, reflect, and practice greater self compassion. They are sea swimming for the mind.
Because my time in the sea has made me very aware of plastic pollution, and of our need to care more for the beautiful planet on which we live, Sea Soul Blessings are also sustainably made in the UK using eco-friendly materials. We donate 10% of sales to environmental causes – currently Surfers Against Sewage.
I would never have had the courage and capacity to create Sea Soul Blessings were it not for those daily sea swims that continue to clear my mind, and teach me so much. As I watch Sea Soul Blessings travel around the globe, I love hearing from fellow sea lovers and sea swimmers about the impact that these simple cards have had on their lives. I continue to use them every day myself – and of course, to swim in the sea.
Pippa Best is the founder of Sea Soul Blessings. By creating simple transformative tools that combine self-compassion, mindfulness and the power of nature, Sea Soul Blessings provides resources to change our own lives, and the world around us, for the better. Find out more at seasoulblessings.com, on Instagram @seasoulblessings, Facebook @seasoulblessings, and Twitter @seasoulblessing where Pippa shares sea films and inspiration.