It’s been a very a long time since we’ve posted a blog, but this freediving workshop really deserves a blog.
It’s something special, a very unique mix of cutting edge apnea research, tailored coaching, freediving focused yoga and meditation, all in beautiful Amed, Bali. This course is aimed at freedivers with an understanding of the basics of Freediving Physiology and Physics, with a desire to deepen and expand perspectives, seeing where the latest research in apnea is taking us.
Frederic Lemaitre will be our guide for most of the daily coaching and freediving workshops. He’s one of the worlds leading experts on freediving science and is at the forefront of apnea research. Frederic is also a top freediving coach, working with the first generation of the 1990s French elite up to today, with the likes of Guillaume Nery.
Each day is a mix of freediving, workshops, yoga and meditation workshops with the focus very much on deepening knowledge and changing perspectives.
The first days stretching will be whole body basic stretching;
Freediving will be focused on safety protocol as developed in his research with AIDA and Free immersion diving
The first days topic will be on advanced freediving physiology where
Frederic Lemaitre will be drawing on the insights gained from over 2
decades as a top apnea researcher. Related to this topic he’ll draw from over 40 different papers published between 2000 and 2017.
The most recent paper was in 2015 comparing the trigeminocardiac reflex
(TCR) with the Mammalian dive response.
Like all the workshops there will be an opportunity to for questions and answers with Frederic.
In the evening there will be a workshop on equalization for freedivers,
focusing on the various techniques available to freedivers, frenzel,
forms of mouthfill etc.
In the morning we’ll have some basic stretching and a yoga sequence
designed for freedivers.
The Freediving training will focus on various exercises for
equalization and free immersion diving. The theory workshop will focus on ‘effects of freedive training’ drawing
on research from at least 8 separate papers by Frederic, from the
effects of apnea training on swimming co-ordination to the effects of packing, with a general review on freediving physiology.
The evening session will focus on 2 categories of meditation-
concentration and mindfulness
There will be some theory and some reference to the science behind these
practices, as well an an introduction to one or two practices in each
We’ll also look at how these practices can affect our freediving training.
Breathing and stretching
The morning stretching session will focus on the primary and secondary
CWT and FI
Principles of freedive training;
This wokshop will focus on training principles and primarily reference three papers, including one that deals with free diver training as a complement to other athletic training.
Meditation workshop- contemplation and creative visualization;
This workshop will investigate 2 other categories of meditation in regards to freediving.
The first will use the power of the rational mind to create break throughs and insight. The visualization practices will focus on harnessing the innate creative power of the mind.
Freediving risks, blackout, decompression sickness, squeeze.
This is one of the most fascinating workshops as it draws on very interesting new research and introduces solid science based protocols for Decompression sickness, Blackouts and Squeeze. Frederic is one the people writing the guidelines for what is safe in freediving, based on science and not speculation. He is one of the lucky few who has done extensive research with the Ama divers of Japan.
Meditation- this final day will look at slightly more esoteric aspects of meditation, most specifically heart based practices.
Homo Delphinus- comparative physiology.
A comparison between marine mammals and human mammals.
In this workshop Frederic explores what apnea training and apnea research can tell us about the human being and ways it can be used toimprove our development.
To make this accessible to poor freediving instructors we are offering the full 5 days training and workshops $400
Nowadays, visualisation and mindfulness meditation are not uncommon terms. Even kids have heard of meditation and they know to sit and close eyes with index finger and thumb pressed together. They are both important tools and highly effective if practiced with discipline. Here at Apneista in Amed, Bali, our yoga teacher training program includes learning about methods to discipline our minds through both meditation and visualisation.
Though they two are not synonyms, visualisation and mindfulness meditation are both effective mind training. There are hundreds of different meditation styles and visualisation is just one of them along with affirmations, mantras and chanting.
I used to teach yoga to a group of artists and every time we sat down to meditate, at least one or two students would open up to me after class, rather embarrassed, saying “every time I sit down, I try to clear my mind but all these great ideas would just pop up in my head and I feel such a strong urge to write them all down…”
And that is precisely what can happen if we get confused in various methods of meditation. A tsunami wave of great and not so great ideas, thoughts, emotions rushing into our mind all at the same time. Visualization is an extension of imagination. If we do not cultivate an ability or discipline to steer and clear those waves of thoughts, even the most effective visualization can be just a cover up for another thought and it would only create agitation, anxiety and more destructive, unproductive thoughts that would hinder your performance (if it is being used for freediving) or your well-being.
The reason great ideas just seem to pop up one after another when we sit down to meditate is because we are constant talking machines to ourselves. We have about 50,000 thoughts a day. We rarely sit down, and just BE to watch our breath. And so when we do sit down to meditate, our minds see a little gap of silence and all of a sudden, we can see things very clearly, kind of like that Limitless
pill Bradley Cooper took. Well, not that dramatic but slowly, we have more gaps and pockets of real presence that allows our visualisation to become more precise and effective.
So set aside a time to create a discipline and a habit of sitting down with one pointed awareness. Notice your thought, place your mind on your breath. Best idea ever? Go back to the breath again. Then take a separate time for visualisation. Over time and practice, you will find your visualisation to be much more effective. In future, we will be looking at more visualisation and mindfulness meditation techniques suitable for yoga practitioners and freedivers.
‘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.
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 www.java.dhamma.org
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 http://www.dhamma.org/ for international Goenka style courses.
Check http://www.hdamm.de/buddha/mdtctr12.htm 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.
We’re coming up to three years that we started the whole apneista project in Bali and the last year and a half has been really intense. . with lots of new stuff.. starting at what I reckon is probably one of the coolest…
Dark moon freediving…
That’s it, freediving at night..We have now started using the latest in glow in the dark rope ‘technology’. two glowing lines, the liquid darkness and clouds of bio-luminescence. It is an intensely beautiful and surreal experience, something difficult to describe or photograph, like the Northern lights…We have established a whole new protocol for this activity and it is open only to students who have shared some training with us (for obvious safety considerations.)
Freedive trips to nusa penida to Freedive with mantas,
We’re organising group trips to freedive with Mantas and other pelagics on the amazing reefs of Nusa penida, starting in May.
Freediving trips to Komodo and Raja Empat,
We are teaming up with Graham Abbot, one of the most respected specialist dive guides in this incredible area to offer something really special, freediving, yoga and Scuba trips to the Eastern Dive Jewels of Indonesia.
Fly and dive intensive.
From the 7th to the 12th and from the 15th to the 22nd of September Acroyoga and freediving intensives…with the amazing Bex Tyrer, Bali’s queen of acroyoga. This practice is a beautiful hybrid of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage with one person ‘flying the other’ with another acting as a spotter.. It is the perfect complement to freediving in every way, we are pretty excited about this.
Another bit of news is that we are now offering SSI certification alongside our own Apneista training system. We will continue to do what we do best, adapting training to suit the individual and expanding our curriculum, but now for those interested in Global certification we now offer SSI training as well. For those who want to get signed off for SSI,we will be running one day SSI assessments during May.
New training space, yoga sala, cafe, equipment shop and more training lines.
On the beautiful bay of Jemeluk we are finally finished with the unending refurbishment and we now have what we firmly believe is the sweetest freediving shop in all of Asia. Chill out area, yoga sala, equipment shop and now a wonderful cafe, right on the beach. We have also set more lines at various depths and are now initiating some reef and beach clean ups, so that Bali’s best freediving spot becomes even better. Please roam the webpage for more details and pics.We are still processing a resource page with interesting research and training material relating to the breath,freediving and yoga, coming soon…
P.S. anyone with 5 minutes to spare and with great things to say about us here’s a link to tripadvisor, your help is sincerely appreciated.
Coming very soon… The best Master freediving course in Asia, with optional Yoga and meditation training.
In the last year we have been so taken up with the building of our new training space that we have resisted taking on Master students. We didn’t want to take on Master freediver students while there was still ongoing refurbishment and the possibility of people having a less than perfect Master freediving course.
But this summer we will start our new and improved Master Freediver internship programme. We intend to make this the best full immersion freedive training course available in Asia, (seeing as Dean’s Blue in the Bahamas is pretty hard to beat.)
Our training space with Cafe is built right on Bali’s best freedive training spot, meaning that freedivers can easily spend most of their waking hours training on lines or freediving the amazing reef which is all the way up and down the coast. When not on the reef or lines students can attend yoga classes in our sala, or receive training in Pranayama and other meditative techniques from Yoga. Full Master freediving course curriculum coming soon…