Self hypnosis – tools for freediving training

stock hypnosisOur friend Helena ran a ´Self Hypnosis´ class recently.
After the practice she answered questions about the suitability of the practice for different desired outcomes and environments. An obvious question from one of us was about whether the practice could be utilized in the water for as a tool for freediving training, the answer was “Yes”. Self hypnosis, Helena told us, is not about being put to sleep like the popular image of ´Classical Hypnosis´. Classical Hypnosis only works on some people and the stage hypnotist has a number of assessments to find who in the audience can be influenced. Self hypnosis can be achieved by anyone and the trance state can be induced whenever convenient, and the person is completely awake for the duration. This style is called Modern Hypnosis or Ericksonian Hypnosis after Milton Erickson.
Helena is a GP and has used these techniques to help patients. She explained that in daily life we generate beta-waves (β-waves) that are very fast and notice a lot of the data around us but don’t retain it. In the trance state on which she focuses we generate alpha-waves (α-waves). These are slower and remember everything. Things done while in an alpha state are better remembered. Another form used by practitioners is the deeper trance of theta waves (θ-waves). For treating a trauma that it is not beneficial to remember the practitioner can help the patient into this deep trance. The practitioner can speak to the patient and discover a cause of trauma or a solution to a problem. Once out of the trance the patient will not remember the episode, hence not reinforcing the problem, and the solution can begin to work.
We are interested in being awake and accessing valuable resources J
Here’s the procedure:
1) Ask for a resource. (You have to really want it) And give a time frame (i.e. 2mins)

2) Pick a visual point 45° above normal line of sight.

3) Relax! (legs, back, neck and jaw and tongue)

4) Looking softly in your 45° direction acknowledge what you can see, near and far, say to yourself 5 things. Things from your direct vision and from your peripheral. Then say 5 things you can hear; loud, soft, bodily and external. Then say 5 things you can feel; temperature, discomfort, clothing, breadth.

*While you say these things your voice must be of a lower register and slower than normal*
5) Starting with 5 sights, 5 sounds, 5 sensations Then, 4 sights, 4 sounds, 4 sensations Then, 3 sights, 3 sounds, 3 sensations Then, 2 sights, 2 sounds, 2 sensations Then, 1 sight, 1 sound, 1 sensation.

By the end you will allow your eyes to close and allow the trance state to function. If the eyes close before the end of the cycle all well and good, then continue using whatever slight colours or spots of light as reference.
If the complete round of sights, sounds, sensations isn’t enough go through the cycle again. With experience the practitioner can succumb to the trance earlier, perhaps even before the first line of sights, sounds, sensations!
Deepening Techniques:

After the practice Helena showed us some deepening techniques. If, for example, you were guiding a friend through it you could count slowly down from 10 to 1 (counting up has the effect of awakening or energising). If you wanted to deepen your own trance you could observe your palm from a medium distance. As you very slowly bring the palm towards the face continue to focus softly on the lines, contours, colours, shadows, taking everything in. When the palm reaches the face and touches softly you can allow yourself into the trance.

Please let us know how you get on with this training, one of possible many supplementary tools for freediving training.

The importance of freediving courses and safety training

Freediving courses save lives.

A few years ago I was freediving on the reef in Jemeluk bay, East Bali. Upon surfacing from one dive my hands shook a little. It was a very short lived sensation. I considered the dive to be nowhere near my limits so it didn’t occur I might have become hypoxic. It was only several days later when diving alone on the reef that I once again had a similar experience. Upon breaking the surface my body rocked with a small samba. I knew I was definitely on the point of black out. It was then I decided to see a doctor. Tests revealed that I had become quite anemic.

What is anemia?
Anemia is a very good reason to never freedive alone. Anemia is a condition where there are less red blood cells than usual, which means there is less Oxygen stored in the blood. It can be caused by medical conditions or problems with absorption of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12.
In my case my comfortable breath-hold time wasn’t affected, but my hypoxic limit was much reduced. This meant I was able to bring myself close to the point of blacking out on dives that had been previously well within my comfort zone. I was freediving alone and was very lucky not to have blacked out completely. I taught good safety protocols but sometimes didn’t feel the need to follow them myself, in my instructors arrogance. That day it almost cost me my life.
Small physiological changes in the body can be fatal to the solo freediver.
In the same bay a month or so later another freediver wasn’t so lucky. Though he was a strong free-diver he hadn’t taken and formal freediving course. He was with his fiancé, two weeks engaged. She was on scuba with a local dive-master. He was diving down to them and following them on their dive. They lost track of him, but didn’t worry about it too much, he was a good freediver and the depths were pretty shallow for him.

It was only later after frantic searching and returning to the shore that their worst fears were realized. He was brought back to the beach by a Japanese Divemaster who had found him while diving with his students. He had promised his fiancé that he would really take it easy. Personally I believe he probably did think he was taking it easy.
According to his heartbroken fiancé he had suffered with some quite bad diarrhea on the days before the accident. It is very possible that he had low blood pressure from dehydration and had no more idea he was pushing his limits than I did when I had my anemic ‘samba’.
A freediver has to trust his body, but solo freediving is to trust blindly, so that small un-noticed changes in the body, such as low blood pressure or anemia can have fatal effects.

Here’s the guidelines we teach all our students on freediving courses.
Never freedive alone
Always follow a one up/up down protocol, with visual reference.
Never freedive when feeling sick or under the weather.
Never hyperventilate (and understand precisely what hyperventilation is)
Avoid going more than 50% of your maximum depth.
Come up on the first urge to breathe.
Always check local conditions, currents, tides, thermoclines etc.
Never take air from a scuba diver.
Wait at least 12 hours after SCUBA to freedive.

As a postscript; after the trauma of her loss his fiancé did some research to understand how he could die in this unpredictable way. She ended up taking freediving courses and is now a very passionate freediver and lover of all things related to the sea.

Testimonials from freediving training students in Amed, Bali 2014.

Here’s some feedback from students in 2014 up until we got too busy to put the feedback onto the computer 🙂 A big thanks to all our students who make teaching freediving such a rewarding job.


This course is perfect for a terrified beginner. I was talked through each dive until the very end. As someone who has spent my whole life on land I really appreciate have 2 instructors that were so patient, informative and helpful. Overall I was really surprised at what I was able to do while taking baby steps. My biggest reminder from freediving is that the mind will tell you ‘no’ over and over again, when really the answer could be ‘Yes’. Thank you!!
Ellye O’Brien

I spent 2 awesome days with great people. I reckon the structure of the course is perfect, nice and relaxed theory in a relaxed environment and then good session in the water, plenty of time for questions, gearing up and great logistics. I really had a good time. Thanks guys.
Federico Salvarola

I was very impressed with the program- especially Matthew’s kind patience and encouragement. I loved how it focused on confidence building- not an end goal. I also loved the yoga emphasis- it translated perfectly for me (philosophy). thank you!!!
Julia Fogelson

I had a wonderful time. I had zero background with freediving and this course was really engaging. I, at all times, felt safe. Thank you for this experience, I really like what you do, and the way you do it. I get the feeling I’ll be searching for an opportunity to do this again (and again) in the future. Thanks for giving me a new way to appreciate and enjoy being in the water.
Matilda Dorman

Good technique and training. Seriously.
Naejus Thomas

I thoroughly enjoyed my first freediving experience. The staff create a very relaxed environment while giving you the necessary teachings to dive properly. I surprisingly met my goal easily thanks to the chilled out mantra approach.
Ian Hoffman
Great course!! Loved it!
Ashley McLoud

I’ve enjoyed experiencing freediving. The course was very informative on the basics (both theory and practise). Hope to continue 🙂 Thank you!
Elena Gavrilova



Loved it! Breathing relaxation really worked to make me feel more confident and comfortable. Interesting theory- not too much. Like the idea of yoga/freedive/flow and being fluid in the water. Shit conditions but was still great fun and not too off putting. Hopefully you put the fear into James so he doesn’t keep pushing and scaring me to death!
Fiona Butler

Learned a lot! Safer! Look forward to practicing and perfecting skills learned. Level of detail just right for our experience level. Still got a lot out of the course even though we were already good freedivers.
James Skilbeck Nelson

Great course! Loved the mix of theory and practice in the ocean. The visualization techniques beforehand really helped. I was most put at ease by knowing my breath hold time and when the first urge hit and how much [air] left I had after that. Would love to do it again with some calm waters!
Steven Zmrhal

I had a great experience. After spearfishing for almost 15 years, I was able to learn the physiology behind breathhold and deep dives. I added 10 meters to my previous deepest dives, learned safety & rescue techniques that I never knew but always wanted to. I’d highly recommend this course to anyone, especially surfers and spearfisher….
Tim Russo

It was very informative for an experienced freediver and spearfisher like myself. I learnt loads of details about physics and proper techniques that could really save my life and others in a bad situation. I now would like to continue on to the advanced level.
Jade Hyde

Very useful information, plus it was good that the teachers had different approaches for different people. Would love to do some diving with better weather, fish could be distracting for the breathholding 🙂
Shayne McCreadie

Good learning about the science of breathing and how it applies to freediving. Good application in the other aspects such as mediation training and stress management. Liked yoga routine and the focus on relaxation.
Ben Lai

Very interesting and informative. Enjoyed it very much and it felt very safe and on our own terms when we were in the water.
Vincent Gunnarsson


Great dive instructors, it always felt safe. Good work on both body and mind. Nothing to add to the course 😀
Alexander Skocki

I cannot think of anything negative: it was a real great experience! The place was really good, the instructors were very good (thank you Daniel and Matthias!) and everything was organized in a nice atmosphere.
Moritz Boegel

My experience in Apneista, Jemeluk, Amed, Bali: I got a really nice feeling staying with you. I did this course to experience proper & secure freediving techniques, as I practice for fun for many years. Matthias was really nice, friendly and most important of all: careful!! As an instructor (diveing & surfing) I’m used to taking care of people and I really liked to feel really safe. I will definitely come back next year and go for Level 2. The center is small but convenient and peaceful. The team, Indo & buleh, are really friendly and efficient.
Thomas L.

Such a wonderful experience! I learn a lot about myself. A lot of amazing feelings about my body and my mind. Am originally use of yoga tricks and breathing exercises to exceed my own limits. Thanks to the Apneista team and master of disaster Daniel!
Julien Riviere
ADVANCED student

Awesome energy- Good class, great theory. Conditions were intense- boat was crucial after heavy rain- visibility and comfort in water were essentially hand in hand.
William G. Lee


FROM EMAIL: You guys were the best.
When people ask me what was the highlight of my 10 days in Bali, and I tell them, they roll their eyes.

After we left Bali we went to Kri Eco Resort in West Papua, and had the time of our lives. Vishaka was more comfortable in the water, and had more fun diving than ever before. She was routinely on the bottom, at 10-15 meters, checking out reefs. She has always stayed up at the surface and watched me in the past. Her feeling more free in the water allowed me to stay out longer and dive more myself.

I owe it all to you.

As we say in Hawai’i: Mahalo Nui Loa! (Michael Click)

I thought I knew what was coming. I was wrong- challenging, beautiful, tough, frustrating, delightful, well run, chilled. Enjoyed the theory- always good to learn. Overall a really unique experience in another world. Boss!
Oliver Green (ninja)

Great course & pacing. Day 1- good theory- not too long & kept us interested. First dive- went well. Like 2 buoys. Day 2- good morning info. Afternoon dive really good. Awesome!
Robin Connelley (ninja)

Good pacing- very much like th positive demeanor/attitude. Prefer the double buoys.
John Stanton (ninja)

Really enjoyed it. Even though it was toally exhausting. Loved how it has made overcome my fear of the deep- well almost!
Completely unique experience- liked being taken out of my comfort zone & learning about myself. Great coaching- nice & calm.
Liberty Green (ninja)

Very technical and challenging course. Learned a hell of useful info on physiology & psychology. Instructions both in class and in water was both helpful for theory & practice. Felt safe the entire course but still felt challenged. Instructors recommended corrections advice tailored to you. Great, friendly, and personable staff. Thank you for sharing freediving experience.
Kyong Pak (ninja)

I learn a lot in just 2 days. Very happy I hit 20 meters. Planning for further training.
Florent Sene

Good individual training in water. nice, relaxed – no pressure, I like it.
Stefan Ebelsberger

Obviously, it is a great course.I had no expectations of what I might be able to do but I was very pleased with how it went. Matthew is a great teacher. Very responsible and reassuring in the water and personalised encouragement for each person. It was good 🙂
Lucia Smyth

Really sweet, such a nice vibe, at the cafe, in teaching on land and water. Feels very professional. Spot on. Thanks a lot for great guidance and teachings. All the best to you guys =)
Sandro Lindquist Garcia

I really enjoyed the course. I found a good ratio of theory and practice. Teachers were very good and were able to keep us calm. I did much more than I thought I could do. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
Julia Martinez

Very good, very professional delivery & instruction. Theory was very in-depth; technical + graspable. Very calm in water instruction set students at ease.
Brian Mannon

Good course. I never believed that I could really freedive to 16m. These 2 days were well spent.
Elina Varmola

It was a very well conducted course: interactive, small group, lots of practice, and dynamic. Results are there; I managed to reach a depth of 14m, and feel very comfortable in the (and under) the water. I have learned a new skill that hopefully I can put into practice often and continue learning with such good teachers. Thanks!
Gonzalo Urbano

Course is an excellent balance of theory and practical. Matthew was always very encouraging and also able to suggest alternative techniques for divers with sticky ears!
Peta Danielle Knott

Had a great time and learnt a heap. Matt is a great teacher and really helped me get going.
Anthony Mansfield

Dear Scatty Matty, Terima Kasih banyak! Muinteori go’halcann! Brilliant course. Really really enjoyed it. Lots of “lols” haha. Having done it now it doesn’t seem as impossible as it might have before. It was a great intro to freediving. I’d been really keen now to train more and maybe do more courses in the future.What else can I say! It’s a magical thing- maybe that’s why all you loolaas are so mad into it!! Thanks Matt.
Audrey Byron

The course was really good. I wasn’t so sure at the beginning but in the end i really enjoyed it. Theory and practice part were clear and well taught. I for sure was glad I made it and will use the techniques for my snorkeling.
Marketta Istas

3 days course starting in a wonderful place, Tirta Gangga and finishing by a fun dive on the Liberty Wreck! The training emphasizes safety.
Florent Sene (Advanced Student)
24 March 2014

Very good course. the location of the school, approach, and instruction nothing to complain about. The yoga course in the evening was good too.
Takashi Nakagawa (Advanced Student)

I really like the theoretical/physiology part. Nice explanations by our instructor Matthias! Well structured and good teaching. The water sessions were amazing. I really could feel how I got more comfortable after some dives. Again, nice explanations from our instructor. All in all a very good course.
Marcel Rasche

Much more than expected, technical and insightful discoveries. Loads of material in short time, very good and selected teachings, friendly environment. Great approach through meditation etc. Very well spent money.
Juval Kuerzi
Great. Austrian guy [Matthias] is Great.
Drew Macomber

Great course! Highly professional trainers. Instruction before going into the water was very helpful. I enjoyed the combination of physics, yoga and diving! The course was well designed to help participants feel prepared before going into the water. I learned a lot and look forward to applying it in the future. Also I was impressed how well the instruction was tailored to each student.
Seth Coogan

Loved the course! I was nervous going in because of my challenges with breath (asthma) but the instruction was so clear & I was able to go at my own pace. I learned a lot during the philosophy & felt really comfortable going into the water. Great experience all around! I’ll be back =)
Flora Bowley

I really appreciated the fact that the course is designed to adjust to each person’s abilities & comfort levels, while also encouraging personal progress. I took this course to attempt to face my strong water anxieties. It was really helpful and I am coming away feeling incredibly proud of the achievements I made. Everyone at Apneista was great at calmly encouraging that progress for me.
Carrie Yoder

Very scientific with a depth and theory and assurance of practice. Ration and irrational bodily reactions were discussed in detail. The course was above and beyond what was required for the introductory course and provided good value for money.
All the staff are incredibly positive and supportive.
William Clarke

Fantastic! Lots of time in the water and instructors were really friendly and encouraging. I achieved much more than I thought I would. Thank you! 🙂
Leila Hughes

It was a good course with lots of time in the water and great instruction. I would recommend this course to friends as long as they are comfortable equalizing.
Alexander Feldman (sasha)

Thank you. The tuition was great- well paced and bespoke. A great place to start freediving.
Boo Greenslade

Nothing to say that would not sound flattering! I felt that everything was very safe, professional, and useful. Thanks and keep with the good job!
Carlo Crudeli

Material well covered, well presented, instructor good level of knowledge, relevant materials, practical course-work great. Felt very comfortable within the structure of the course.
Kim Brooks

Was very informative and entertaining. It was interesting to learn that humming breathing aids blocked sinuses and ears. Lots of other stuff I enjoyed. Matthias is an awesome coach, just looking up at him, made me relaxed.
Yulia Manko

Perfect situation. I really appreciate that you did the course 1:1! Nice place (school and bay). Good, clear, calm teaching, theory & practice.
Mark Berchtold

Very good impression: interesting theory, very good teacher, & practice also very good. Impressive to see progress in 2 days.
Aurelie Grange

The course is beyond expectations! Our trainer Matthias was born to be a diving teacher (the same way as Michael was born a fish). But actually all people here, in Apneista, are super shanti. It helps a lot!
Yana Mari

Excellent teacher (Matthias). He is super shanti, peaceful, knowledgeable and helpful. Great intro course. Great theory, to the point. Excellent integration of yoga, visualization was very nice. Nice environment, thanks for the drinks and popcorn. Flexible and easy. Thank you!
Michael DeNicola

Flawless. Absolutely a life-changing experience. Going to water is never going to be the same. The instructors, the lectures and the diving were very professional. Thus making me feel always comfortable and safe. Had a lot of fun!!! Looking forward to taking the next course here.
Edson Quiroz

Very informative in all respects. Instruction was very straightforward and very personal. All questions were answered in a kindly and informative manner. The practical diving sessions were very exciting and I made good progress. Thank you.
George Clingan

I learned how to feel well under water which was a neat step for me. Very good teaching, building trust and confidence. I had fun. Thanks!
Yann Gouy

Great experience, great feelings. Feel more comfortable in water and more sure of my body. Great way to meditate, disconnect from the mind, not wasting energy physically and mentally. Thank you for the those great moments! And the staff is really friendly & relaxed 🙂
Gregoire Gaume

Awesome stuff! Great teaching of theory and practical skills. Made me feel comfortable & safe at all times. Matthias was an awesome instructor. I’ll be back.
Jamie Steele

Great training, always felt safe. Matthew did well in building up our confidence and in explaining everything well and making sure everyone understands. Thanks for the great course!
George (Bobby) Boshoff

Really enjoyed it. Much more comfortable in the water. The theory was very insightful, learned a lot. Thank you Matthew! When diving, Matthew always made me feel at ease, no rushing. Had a great time.
Hanelize Boshoff

Honestly? Just AMAZING!!! I learned a lot and enjoyed such a detailed theoretical part. I felt safe in the water, and was surprised at how rapidly we all progressed. This course is a credit to our teachers and to Apneista, best freediving school and one our best experiences in Bali! Thank you.
Marion Claudel

The course was my best experience in Bali and for many months! I liked the theory which was very complete and entertaining, the relaxing part was great and in the water I had such fun. Everything was great, well organized! Keep going this way! Everybody is so nice in Apneista, this is a real pleasure! Good vibes! Thanks again!
Laurent Miraucourt

The course was really awesome. I got a completely new experience and feel myself in the water more confident. I pushed my limits and now feel more comfortable in the deep. Wish to continue my studies later. Also got a lot of nice feelings and emotions while freediving.
Andrey Kosarev

Hot tub, definitely need a hot tub =) Aside from that, the training was clear and I felt safe the entire time. Instructors were great and the underwater photos a bonus! Thank you. xo
Jamie Leigh Chan

It was a great experience in which I discovered new sensations. I understand that it can be so addictive! Maybe., see you soon for level 2! Thanks a lot to Kwab and Raffaele.
Mathieu Verrier

Great experience! Good to feel improvement in just 2 days, very good instructor (Matthias). Very calm, patient, made me feel safe. Thank you!!!
Lisa Naumann

The course was very interesting and a completely different experience from scuba, which I enjoyed. I thought Matthias’ approach was perfect for the discipline and would definitely recommend him and the centre.
Polly Mason

Very rewarding experience! Loved the course. Very relaxed and understanding teacher! Thanks Matthias! Also could see a lot of improvement in such a short time. It was possible to develop at your own pace.
Tjark Martens

Great fun! Thank you so much! Fun instructors 🙂
Nele Martens

The best thing that happened to me in the last 6 months! Excellent, great, perfect, relaxing, excellent safety. One of the best experiences of my life! Thank you everybody! I will be back!
Laurent Miraucourt

Definitely more challenging than level 1. Still great training in a beautiful location with the best cafe in Amed. Day 3 was my favorite day as it gave me an opportunity to just focus on my foundational technique and relaxation/visualization.
John Lee

Super nice experience! Matthew is a really good teacher. Good at encouraging and teaching. I feel much more comfortable in the sea now.
Natalie Norin

Amazing 2 days. Theory & practical sessions were profound and though I know I got a lot to practice on my equalization, I have definitely got loads of progress in it. The course has been really fun and the whole crew is lovely 🙂
Flordeliza Pesigan

I really enjoyed the course, the positive energy and the calming exercises helped me overcome the fear I felt in the beginning. So I could really just enjoy the experience and feeling of comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. I would recommend it to everyone. 🙂
Christine Norin

Good course, totally felt the progress. Way more confident. all good! Good work!
Christian Fischer

The course was well-structured and the right balance between theory and practice. Matthew was a good teacher and made me feel safe at all times. I was surprised how much I achieved and enjoyed what I did. I will definitely freedive again. Thanks!
Stephen Marks

Course was very good- detailed information particularly the physiology which helps to relax when you understand the science. Matt was great in the water- very reassuring and gave good corrections, always made me feel comfortable & confident. Overall great course and definitely want to do more.
Darja Dobermann

I really liked it! Matthew is a great teacher. I’ve grabbed a lot of knowledge, I did 19 meters & became more comfortable in the water. I’m definitely promote Apneista in my network, so prepare yourself for more Russian students! 🙂
Anna “Zap” Fimina

Great course, I learnt a lot about breathing techniques and safety. Great venue. Yoga was something different I enjoyed.
Billy Povey

Solid foundation with emphasis on theory, safety and mental aspects of freediving. Focus on enjoyable sustainable development. Nothing is rushed but as a result of this development of skills and confidence benefits greatly. Have enjoyed course greatly and have achieved more than I expected. Lots of smiles one everyone’s faces including mine.
Glen Aidah

The course was great, loved every second of it. It was well priced and extremely comprehensive. I felt safe at all times. All the instructors are very friendly and professional. The cafe connected to the shop is also a cool place to hangout and it has an awesome menu. The meditation aspects of the course were also very interesting.
Adam Kenny

The course was great fun and very safe. I was able to achieve all the goals I set out to achieve- my desired depth, breathhold and level of comfort. The meditation and breathing techniques were very helpful for me, and it was extremely satisfying to learn in great depth what was going on inside my body while diving. The information taught was extremely comprehensive. Excellent, very professional company.
Adam Kenny

Great course. Enjoyed going to the old pool [Tirta Ganga]. It was great to challenge myself and I surprised myself with what I was able to do. That feeling of accomplishment is invaluable. Then to take my new skills in practice at the Liberty Wreck was a good way to finish.
Patrick Names

Great course, Love the staff!! Feels like family here!
James Forsberg

Very pedagogic and much attention to personal development. Good mix of theory and practice. The setting of water palace [Tirta Ganga] and Tulamben [Liberty Wreck] really made it great. The level 2 gives more time to really develop comfort and technique. Strong engagement from both instructors. Great experience!
Martin Henriz

I loved it! So nice to overcome your boundaries and learn new things. Raf is great. His calm nature makes the course super enjoyable. All in all an awesome experience. I’d gladly recommend to anyone.
Nina Nogulic

I thought the whole setup including staff are mega helpful. Most of all the teaching approach and Raff’s warm, knowledgeable teaching method was super awesome. The skill I learnt I feel I will use for the res of my life. I would love to come back and learn level 2 with Raff. Btw, ask him to say ‘DIARY’ 🙂
Matija Agbaba

Kwab is a 5* instructor and the group was great which made this underwater experience very special. It was a natural re-cap and progression from previous training which deepened my comfort in the water and with my own body and mind. So much more to say and the best suggestion I can give to others is- to try it- it’s absolutely worth it and unique. Thank you!
Ana Alves

Excellent instructor. Surpassed expectations. Perfect balance of practical and theory.
Nick Fogarty

I came here with no expectations. Amazing to discover what your body is capable of. The theory was really useful. During the dives I felt safe which was really nice. The setup of the course is good. Thanks a lot!
Sabine Marres

Well! Honestly you almost saved my life! I learned a lot of rescue & safety details. My interpretation of freediving/spearfishing is really more calm & safer than before. I’ll come back for level 2 in October!!
Sebastien DeFlandre

Really amazing course! Learned a lot on technique & theory and had fantastic opportunities to put them into practice. Also important were the theory & practice of safety- including proper preparations & recovery for diving, being an effective safety diver, etc. The location @ Apneista was great and diving the USS Liberty was fantastic & Tirta Gangga was unforgettable! This was really the best three days I’ve had in a long time! Thanks!
Chris Raymond

This was a fantastic course. Unfortunately I had equalization issues diving head first so couldn’t complete. Raf, however, was incredibly supportive & helpful. He is the best instructor I have had (freedive & scuba) and made my first experience of free diving into something I will continue to do. Thanks Raf.
Daniel Purcell

Excellent course. Good content and Raf was a legend. Tailored the course to suit the needs and concentrate on individual weaknesses of the class participants. Highly recommended. Cheers Raf.
Paul Connelly

The instructor made me very confident and relaxed. So I managed to dive very deep without realizing and really enjoyed the dive. The most important this I’ve learned is that I can do amazing things when I get to relax.
Celine Gremaud

Great experience, feel confident with the instructor in the water. I’m happy to know techniques in th ewater and stay relaxed. Happy to discover yoga. After 20m in 2 days it’s cool! I want to do it again!
Laurent Gremaud

It was a nice two days. I really get what I was looking for and even more. I enjoy the theoretic part, It’ scool to have an understanding on how it works. And the yoga and stretching part was really interesting. I think I will use some in the future. Thanks it was all great.
Romain Thouvenin

Amazing mate. Thanks. Really really appreciated your authenticity and genuine love of teaching. Also loved the holistic approach- science; spiritual/mental; physical aspects.
As you say breathing is the one thing we can’t go without…enjoyed challenging that part of me…being uncomfortable but safe too. Far exceeded my own expectations of myself.
Ken Farmer

Course was excellent. I’d recommend it to anyone. Matthew is an excellent instructor leader with a strong knowledge base in multi-disciplinary fields to support freediving. James and Patrick were fantastic with supporting instructors, with calm, clear and warm help.
Michael Orkin

Best Course ever. It was fun, the instructor had great way to explain equalization methods.
Turki Baghlaf
Saudi Arabian

Awesome course! You’re incredibly knowledgeable about freediving which made it a great experience. Pat and Jim were awesome as well.
Mike Dannheim

Excellent course! The preparation for the first dives was very thorough, so that I felt extremely relaxed. I especially like the combination of breathing/visualization techniques and freediving. Matthew was an awesome instructor who created a relaxed and positive atmosphere. Thank you Matthew!
Bjela Schwenk

Vipassanna meditation, for freedivers, for everyone…

Vipassanna meditation, for freedivers, for everyone…

‘When the doors of perception are cleansed man shall see things as they truly are, infinite’   William Blake

Why learn Vipassanna ?

In the past month 2 more of our freediving instructors have challenged themselves with the practice of Vipassana. There are different approaches to vipassana, both of them enrolled for the SN Goenka course, a particularly full on and difficult introduction.

Both of our instructors are pretty adventurous people; but what follows it is an explanation of why a ‘normal’ person might subject himself to a vipassana course.

Lets start with looking at two Buddhist practices, Mindfulness and Vipassana. Aside from Tantric Buddhism, elements of both are a part of most streams of buddhism, yet they are not religous rite or ritual.


Being in the now; mindfulness is concentrated awareness of the moment to moment.
It is a process of constant redirection of the attention, bringing awareness repeatedly back to the present moment.

We become aware of what we are thinking, feeling or doing or become aware of how mind perceives and experiences the world around us.

It is cultivation of the silent witness, acknowledgement of the present moment without judgement, letting go as the present moment changes. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, anytime. Indeed it should be practised as much as possible. It requires little formal instruction but takes a lifetime to master.

Through mindfulness we become less of a slave to unconscious processes and patterns of behaviour. It can positively affect everything from motor skills to deep seated psychological issues. It is also the beginning of single pointed concentration, which is necessary for the development  of insight meditation (Vipassana).

Normally practice starts with single pointed focus on the breath in the nostrils or the rise and fall of the belly, (depending on tradition).  This single pointed mindfulness practice is the gateway to Vipassana.

Vipassana(insight meditation)

Being in the now, deeper and deeper.

Vipassana is considered by many Buddhists to be the single most important teaching of the Historical Buddha, his other teachings essentially just support for this one practice.

This is the practice that explores at the experiential level, ‘impermanence’, ‘suffering’ and ‘non-self’, three main concepts of Buddhism. It is a technique that provides insight into the true nature of reality, freedom from suffering and according to Buddhist teaching liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

Vipassana is deep mindfulness practice, such an intense entering into the present moment that over time our perception deepens and becomes more subtle and the present moment expands into something infinite.

This is NOT something that should be strived for, it is something that happens with the correct practice under guidance over time, naturally.

It is not a transcendental meditation practice, the experience is always firmly rooted in the body and the present moment. With time the body is so deeply felt that you become aware of the body as energy in flux, subtler and grosser forms of energy in flux. This energetic sheath is responsive to thought and emotions and likewise influences the thoughts and emotions.

Vipassana is direct experience of the mind/body connection as an energetic field and how the mind/body interacts with the present moment.

This experience of the mind/body as an energetic field is NOT something to seek or push for it will happen by itself with time and correct practice.

Karma in the body(samkara)

During practice the meditator may experience how most of our behaviour is unconscious, simply a response to the subtler currents of the mind/body.

In this way you realise that it is less important what is happening outside you than the patterns of energy within, which influence your response to external events.

Warm feelings when you see something that reminds you of something good from your past, etc.Patterns might be of fear, anger, craving, desire etc. These patterns have been laid down by previous interactions of behaviour and events.

This is the insight, the body and ultimately all reality as constant flux and flow (impermanence) and that our mental/physical/emotional behaviour influences the flux which then influence future behaviour.

But our everyday personality doesn’t recognise this impermanence and leads to much misguided thought and action. Craving leading to more craving, fear to further fear etc. (suffering).

By accessing deeper levels of awareness below the everyday personality(non-self)
we develop more independence from the subterranean currents of the mind/body.
With correct practice we lessen our attachment to the everyday self, leading to a lighter and more intense living of life.

Why the need to learn Vipassana in silence?

We don’t observe silence for the idea of ‘holiness’ or ‘tradition’
silence is the necessary starting point for the practice of vipassana.

With Vipassana we are going deeper than the everyday limited personality and below the language based part of the brain. We experience the body and broader reality in a deeper and more subtle way, our perception changes becoming more unified and less bound by the rational mind’s limitations.

Language based thought is based on separation and distinction. It applies values, good, bad and it defines the everyday self ‘I don’t like rap music, etc”

While we speak we continue to stay on the surface of the mind, caught up in the thought games that the personality uses to define itself.

Meditation is a challenge for the everyday mind, which is like an animal that has free run of the house and resists losing any of it’s freedom.

The mind can resist the practice of single pointed concentration and can come up with many distractions. If we are in deep practice but then start to converse, then the everyday mind can leap back to re-establish itself strongly, making subsequent practice shallower for some time.

There is nothing wrong with the ‘ego’ or the ‘everyday self’, they are necessary functions for survival and thriving in a social world. The only issue is they make accessing deeper aspects of the human experience very difficult, at least at the beginning.

All of the rules on a vipassana course are designed to minimize opportunities for the everyday mind to distract and define itself. There is no talking or interaction with others, reading, music, dancing or body adornment. There is nothing wrong with these natural human activities, just not while learning deep meditation.

Vipassana is a very intense purification of the mind and absolutely not something to enter into lightly, a silent retreat might sound relaxing but in reality for many people it is the hardest things they ever do.

(Interestingly enough as soon as they finish they forget how hard it was at times. I have experienced this repeatedly.)

The most important rule…

If start you must finish or it can leave you feeling pretty messy for some time. Don’t leave midway, talk to an assistant teacher about your difficulties and stick it out.

I recommend all people of stable mental health and certain level of willpower to try it, especially freedivers and yogis. Actually this is one of the main goals of yoga, to develop insight.  On a more mundane level it can also transform your experience of freediving.

I normally recommend doing the 10 day Goenka course as an intro because the explanation is excellent and in 10 days you can go very deep.But it is also one of the more austere approaches with sitting meditation 10 hours a day, very much focused on purification of the mind. Other approaches are less intense, therefore maybe less traumatic but also taking more time to get deep. Most other traditions use walking meditation between sits.Goenkas approach involves considerable pain in the legs through so much sitting. That said the pain is a very useful tool for learning impermanence.

Here’s a few words for the lovely and very dedicated Sarah Winick, the organiser of the local Bali courses.

 Just on a side note, so perhaps others aren’t discouraged when thinking about sitting for 10 hours each day, every individual is subject to their own unique experience, here’s a public webpage that may assist some with their questions.

FYI for your readers: We hold 10-Day Vipassana meditation courses, as taught by SN Goenka in Bali, please note our next course with availability (October is currently wait listed) is November 5th-16th, 2014 interested applicants may review the website as listed in your blog, and register online directly through our Indonesian site 

Feel free to join the Bali Vipassana FB group to meet other practicing Old Students on island, and to stay up to date with all of our happenings, there will be five 10-Day Goenka courses held in Bangli (near Kintamani) in 2015, the dates will be available soon. 


Check for international Goenka style courses.

Check for a guide to Thai monasteries, though some of the info may be out of date it’s a good place to start researching traditional Thai Vipassanna.

Disclaimer…. this blog is personal opinion. I’m not a meditation master, just someone has been trying to learn and practice it on and off(with more off than on) for 20 years.


Bali freedive courses in Russian…

Друзья! Этим летом на Бали, при центре Апнеиста, работает
русскоговорящий инструктор по фридайвингу. Центр Апнеиста существует
уже более 4 лет, это был первый центр фридайвинга на Бали. В
дополнение к курсу по программе SSI делается упор на практики из йоги
и медитации и используются новые открытия в сфере нейробиологии.
Обучение проходит с учетом потребностей каждого ученика в
несоревновательной атмосфере. Центр Апнеиста располагается в одном из
самых лучших мест для фридайвинга на всем Бали, а может быть даже
Индонезии – восточном побережье Амед. Инструктор Леонид Асанов –
опытный сертифицированный инструктор SSI.

Apneista Freediving Courses Feedback

This kind of goodness must be shared. Just in case you needed any convincing, we’ve got students’ words of encouragement…

“I came here afraid of the water only left committed to free diving. WOW! This has been a deeply moving life affecting experience for me.
Having nearly drowned twice as a child, I leave here at one with the water, having conquered a massive fear in my life. Matthew and the team are exceptionally accomplished and professional- they help impart confidence through a solid foundation of education. The biggest recommendation I can give is that I am coming to do it again!”
Laurie B.

“It was a great experience. Kwab was extremely calm, patient & informative. A good teacher. Matthew displayed excellent knowledge, has great teaching style and runs a very good yoga lesson. Ketut & team in the cafe have a great cheerful demeanor & were very professional, enforcing the “no coffee before freediving rule”. Cafe food was excellent. Location is excellent & business appears to fit in well with the community.
The has a very cooperative feel which can be hard in a small business or any business. The affiliative/efficient & professional dynamic is visible & clearly should be maintained. This team has a good ambience.
I also enjoyed hearing about all team members’ background, philosophy, & values from rehab work, thoughts on dhamma meditation, yoga, recommendations on places to eat, corporate crime to the greens (?). The bunch are collectively mindful, considerate, compassionate & intelligent.
I also liked Nahla the kitten.”
Michael H.

“An excellent course that allowed me to gain the knowledge and skills I’d hoped for! A great balance of theory, dive practice, and stretching providing a wonderful insight into the many aspects of freediving. I particularly liked looking at how to use and ‘get to know’ your mind for your advantage in general & to apply to many areas of life! Terima Kasih!”
Elizabeth M.

“The location is great! Matthew is funny, patient. Easy to get in and out of the water; and the reef is beautiful to snorkel.“
Gillian K.

I absolutely loved the basic course so much so that after completion and an extra day of training, I decided to pursue my formation with the advanced course, which is even better. The Apneista team is truly terrific, I really appreciate their teaching ways, which aren’t at all only focused on performance, but mostly safety and having fun. I also liked how freediving is closely associated to relaxation, yoga and healthy living. I hope I can find a way to continue freediving when back home, it really is an amazing sport and hobby! Thanks so much for everything!”
Alexandre B.

“Fantastic course, great training, helped me achieve more than I had hope to and given me lots to go away with. Great venue and great people as well. Will definitely be back for more training as I feel I have more to get out of this. Absolutely stoked with what I achieved today. Thank you!”
Michelle E.

“Great course! The times where I could forget I was holding my breath and could concentrate on the moment made the whole course worth it. Great training and great preparation for life.”
Jonathan D.

“BAGUS!!! Exceeded all my expectations! Awesome instruction. Awesome atmosphere. Very professional. Excellent course.”
Bartman P.

“Thank you very much for the useful lessons, passing on new skills and patience. Was absolutely great to build the comfort up slowly and get a closer relationship with the water.”
Ana A.

“Excellent Class. Nice to put safety/physics/freediving principle in the same package. Nice to have 2 water session on the second day also.”
Benjamin G.

“Level of theory was really interesting and taught me a lot about mechanics of diving & surfing etc. Relaxing environment really adds to the enjoyment. Food was fantastic.”
Trent T.

“Amazing experience. New way to explore mind body connection and connect with your body in a great, gentle way. I deepened my experience and skill every time I went in the water. This course transformed the way I think about the open water, gave me confidence and ability to really enjoy diving. I’m very grateful to my teacher for their knowledge. Loved every minute of it!”
Magda C.

“This was exactly the style course in freediving I wanted to take. I learned a tremendous amount about the science, physiology and technique of freediving. Even having freedived before and scuba for many years, I learned many new techniques to practice in the future. This was an awesome course. Loved Everything!”
Chris D.

“I’m sure there are other excellent teachers around the world, it’s clear to me that I should learn to freedive with you.
Going with the flow of it all…

Two things are certain:
1. Jet lag
2. Learning to free dive in Indonesia with Matt

Just a matter of when…”
Dijon C.

“I can highly recommend the freediving basic course with Matthew at Apneista in Amed, Bali. The course was very satisfying in providing a background in the theory, and practice of freediving. Moreover, Matthew brings with him a depth of knowledge and experience in yoga & diving that enhances the educational value of the course. It was also fun and relaxed which helps tremendously.”
Dalton C.

“First of all thank you all again for the freedive training I honestly had the 2 best weeks of surfing after the course. Even my surf coaches were impressed by my improved which for sure came from the confidence I gained during the course.”

Carlijn C.

“Awesome course. Great technical background on techniques. Gradually increasing difficulty to allow for comfort in the water throughout. For the price of 1 scuba day I learned how to see more without paying for tanks for the rest of my life.”
Andrew C.

“I met my goals and even more. I’ve learned a lot from yoga and relaxation- I didn’t come for that purpose and the fact that I could directly see the effect of this practice into freediving was a pleasant and nice surprise. That has for sure opened my mind on this practice for other sports. I also have gone deeper in sea than what I could imagine in easy way and get rid of my fear…so much to say….
Thank you!! =-)”
Stephane B.

“Big thanks to all the Apneista team for organizing safe & friendly environment. The class teacher Matthew wass very professional & knowledgeable, ensuring very comfortable diving afterwards. Even though I was a complete beginner to the deep diving, I really enjoy it at the end…going through some anxiety & my “monkey mind” telling me ‘I can’t do it’. But…I did some “deep blue” experience with a smile at the end. 🙂
Isabella D.

“Great course! A life discovery! Great teacher, very good teaching skills, professional, reassuring, patient to answer all the questions.
Good balance between practice & theory, serious review of all the basics. Good equipment, looks brand new & well maintained. Very nice venue for the training (cafe, right on the spot). Thanks for everything, had a really fantastic time!”
Eleonore D.

“It was totally awakening and absolutely a great course. The whole set up, theory, practise, yoga was a great mix and preparation. I can’t imagine it being any better. I felt very well taken care of and safe. Thanks a lot to all of you!!”
Andrea B.

“Excellent course. Profound teaching of theory. Great teaching also in the water, particularly the way Matthew was dealing with the individual abilities and talents. Will recommend it to anyone who’s interested.”
Thomas G.

“Very happy with the course as well as the instructor. Extremely patient and able to cater for all capabilities. Safe and not pushy. Theory was very interesting and explained nice and slowly. Also very happy with my practical dives in the end. All goals achieved! Thank you!”
Travis J.

“Thanks a lot for the professional theory classes and the fantastic time in the water! Your calm way of teaching made my dives very enjoyable. I wouldn’t have expected to have such a good time doing freediving!”
Andrea R.

“Terrific! Well done! Very enjoyable!”
Ian T.

“Good course. Impressive what the body can do!”
Peter H.

“Great course. Well instructed & clearly presented. It was everything I had hoped for. We’ll definitely be back!”
Alexa M.

“Excellent in all aspects- would not change anything. Kwab in particular deserves special mention for this relaxed and calming instruction style.”
Hugh P.

“I loved the yoga & breath work. I feel this course will benefit my connection with ocean and overcoming stressful situations. I can’t believe how far we were able to dive. Thank you for your calm, cool and collected manor, it made overcoming obstacles easy! Thank you!!”
Anna K.

“This was amazing! I no idea I was capable of reaching 20 meters underwater. Kwab is an excellent instructor and I really appreciate the theory aspect of the class.”
Jordan P.

“Superb course! Exceeded my expectations. Content well presented and easy to follow- always felt at ease. And safe in the water. Inspired me to look at an advanced course.”
Peter B.

“Great for meditation, learning to feel at ease in uncomfortable situations and moving out of my comfort zone.”
Alice T.

“I really enjoyed the free diving and yoga course. I feel much more comfortable underwater compared to before the course. It was just the right amount of theory, yoga exercises, and practical freediving. I like the unique approach that Apneista takes towards freediving, combining yoga with freediving. Thank you Kwab for sharing all your knowledge with us.”
Immanuel H.

“Very Knowledgeable instructors with individualised attention to each student. Reassuring +comforting. Awesome location.“
Ashlee B.