I knew it was going to be a special outing with the evolv program when I went to pick up the clients to go snorkeling. Now, just being in the ocean can intimidate some, and putting your face in the water to actually see what is below you adds to that anxiety. Tonight I had a special addition for the crew; tonight we are going to freedive at night! Normally when I pick up the clients the group is very talkative and ready for adventure, not so on that night. There were a couple of clients that just had that look of excitement on their faces, but overall the mood was solemn. In the van, we all talked about fear and what that it felt like for them. Every client described a tightening in the gut and shoulders. One shared that she “starts to breathe faster” and overall they all agreed that it was a negative feeling. I then asked them to describe how excitement felt. The group all described a positive feeling but agreed that the physical aspects were the same. In other words, the body feels the same. “So what is the difference?” I asked the group, and with a small voice one client responded: “Maybe our perception.”
Our mental perception of the event is how we categorize our thoughts on the events. I just needed the group to change their perception of this activity. As we got out of the van, the parking lot was filled with divers getting ready to dive at night. The mood around them was jovial, happy, and guess what? It rubbed off. One by one they became excited to get in the water. Several had never even snorkeled before but were stoked to take on this new adventure.
Armed with dive lights, glow sticks, and a great attitude they all entered the water. Within minutes all their anxiety and “fear” were gone replaced with real childlike wonder and excitement. Taking turns using the lights, they dove down to the reef and explored a whole new world. Angelfish, eels, and stingrays were all out and around. Listening to the clients as they resurfaced was amazing. Hearing them say, “Dude, you gotta come check this out!” or “That is the biggest fish ever!” It was like they had turned into a group of excited children ready to explore!
Our time went very quickly and we got out of the water and headed back to property. Gone was the fear and replaced was a full sense of energy and endless questions about life in the ocean. Getting out of the van the clients were still full of energy they gathered to process the night.
The conclusion that we all came to was that the thing they called “fear” was based on the story they were telling themselves in their heads. Their mind needed to identify the feeling that they were having so they CHOSE to call it fear. The unknown can be intimidating but after they had the new experience, they all were ready to go again. The lesson here was the experience, to try new things and have an adventure. It was an amazing night and I can’t wait to take another group out with evolv for a life-changing event! I try my best to live this life in excitement and not fear, and what a wonderful life it is indeed.
Click here to learn more about our adventure therapy program, evolv.