I am a diver and I love the depth of the ocean—the coldness of the water on my skin, the virginal experience of visiting this uncharted underwater land.
The infinite colors and fish all around. The experience of deep oneness with the current, the flora, the infinite life that surrounds us from every possible direction. Yemanja, the Goddess of the ocean is a close lover of mine. The depth, the vastness she has shown me goes beyond measure and truly beyond belief.
As a diver, I’ve quickly realized how scuba diving is an incredible analogy for relationships.
Rule #1: Dive Buddy.
Certified divers know that the first rule of diving is that we need a dive buddy. We can’t do this alone. We need someone to share this experience with. We need someone to be there to support and offer help if something goes wrong.
Rule #2: Communication.
Diving into relationship requires learning how to communicate with our dive buddies. When we are dry on the shore (by ourselves), it is quite easy to communicate our needs. There aren’t many waves and emotional currents holding us back from expressing what’s truly on our minds.
But once we jump into the waters, we need a different set of skills. We need to make sure we catch our buddy’s attention, and communicate clearly enough for them to truly understand what it is we are trying to convey. Are we needing more air, have we seen a scary shark or gotten tangled in conversation with a clown fish?
Rule #3: Wetsuit.
When we jump into the water (and when diving into a relationship), we wear protective gear. It helps us acclimate to the water, but it also numbs our senses. It keeps the cold out, but prevents us from accurately sensing the world (and our partners) around us. In other words, we have walls of protection around our hearts. Some are healthy boundaries, some not so much.
Rule #4: Adventure.
Diving isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be a dangerous sport. One of the top traits for divers is an innate sense of adventure and a calling to explore uncharted territory. In a way, they are pioneers. Willing to explore realms unknown and undiscovered.
Real relationship divers are exactly the same. They have the willingness to take the time and effort to develop the skills needed to heed the calling of such an adventure. They offer wonder and excitement to connect with their buddies and explore the infinite depth.
Rule #5: Pressure.
The deeper we get, the more pressure we’ll encounter. As we dive deeper, the pressure intensifies. Our ability to breathe and the amount of air in our lungs shrinks. In other words—there’s a necessity for more relating skills than we might have needed diving close to the surface. Deeper communication with our partners, and a deeper sense of responsibility for what we can or cannot handle.
Rule #6: Darkness.
As we descend into the depth, there’s less light and fewer colors. Most divers stay close to the surface. It’s safer, colorful and filled with fish and life. The deeper we dive, the less we can see and the more dangerous the dive becomes.
We simply need more gear and a much better set of skills. The depth is dangerous but holds a greater mystery. It is unknown, vast and alluring. When we dive deeper into relating, something of the divine is revealed, a depth of connection only silence can convey. The secret to lasting relationships lies in meaning and mystery. Both are not found in abundance at the surface.
Rule #7: Go Slow.
We must ascend for more air slowly and with consideration for our dive buddies. At times, we realize, as we dive, that we failed to measure how much air we have. Our tendency would be to panic and rush to the surface. In our relating analogy it would mean that if there are complications or challenges, we run out the door. We break-up. Divers learn to ascend slowly, ask for help from their buddies, and consider the well being of everyone involved. If we are at the depth, the pressure, the fear and panic will be greater. Go slow and connect with your partner.
Rule #8: Safety stop.
We have to learn to acclimate the air pressure as we rise back for more air. Divers learn to stop a few feet below the surface and wait for the body to acclimate. In our relationships, we have to learn where our safety stops are. Yes, we had a big fight, but before we swim our separate ways, let’s take a safety stop. Allow our hearts to acclimate, heal, rest, come out for air and return refreshed.
Rule #9: Don’t let your fins get too dry.
Divers joke that if they don’t dive often, their fins get dry. They miss the ocean and start to be anxious in their daily—non-oceanic—reality. Relationships are important for us. We are relational beings. We relate to the world around us, and experience more of our hearts and our spirits through shared experiences. Swimming by a great turtle by yourself or having your beloved next to you as you do, is a completely different experience. Choose to dive and dive deep; don’t wait on the shore for too long.
Rule #10: Dive Masters.
Almost no one is a naturally born diver. Scuba diving is an acquired, learned skill. We go to a diving school, get certified and dive with an experienced dive master until we get the hang of it.
Most of us are not relationship experts. Often, we learned our relationship diving skills from two not very skillful divers who seem to ignore each and every one of the rules mentioned above. Diving can be dangerous and even traumatic. Don’t leave your aquatic skills for chance. Invest in learning how to relate. Learn from experienced relationship “divers.” Constantly improve your skills and more than anything, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your dive.
There’s nothing more fulfilling than experiencing life with a truly masterful dive buddy.
The wetness of connection with the oneness of creation. The weightlessness of free falling into love. Into the pleasurable abyss. The loss of gravity you can only find when diving into the heart of a lover.
The mysterious embrace of the deep wide blue.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kai Karrel
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Gianni Cumbo/Flickr