BismilLah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem
I felt homesick on Eid a few days ago so a close friend suggested I go down to the seaside to ease my sadness. She was right. The sea has been a source of peacefulness to me and many a day I’ve gone down to the beach heavyhearted and left it happier and calmer.
This past year has found me in turmoil, both internally and externally and living apart from my family and friends had forced me to face those turmoils on my own. But, AlhamdulilLah, things eventually eased for me and I am now at a much stronger and calmer stage in my life.
Most of the healing that took place in my heart, soul, mind and body took place in the sea. It’s ironic that I would find such affinity with the Irish Sea, which at it’s best, is about 16’C. Yes, the sea is cold here! Yet the water became my safe haven, my cocoon of comfort and safety. I am most aware of the Power and Greatness of Allah subhana wa ta’ala when I am swimming in the sea. Or diving from a height of 10-20 feet…
Being so close to the sea taught me to be accepting of a simpler life, thus the headline “Water teaches acceptance.” from the movie ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. I began to breathe more deeply, see more clearly and smile again. The Irish Sea is ever-changing; one day calm and smooth as shimmering silk and the next, a raging wall of waves and sea foam. I think it was that character of the Irish Sea that first attracted me; it seemed to mirror how I was feeling myself.
From just sitting and enjoying the sea, I began to venture further and longer into the Irish Sea. My swims began extending from 5 minutes to 45 minutes in the water during summer and from just swimming close to shore, I began to swim long distances. This is how I found myself one morning 50 feet from the shore, surrounded by the 3 Killiney Bay bottlenose dolphins! They circled me for 5 minutes and we were watched by the morning rush hour DART train commuters (the driver actually stopped the train on the tracks just above the beach!) What an amazing experience and I’m very happy to say NOT my only one…The dolphins seemed to recognise and accept me and I would find them swimming near or alongside me on my swims!
The Irish Sea also helped heal me physically as well. When I first arrived in Ireland, I was an unhealthy, overweight 33 year old woman. But swimming in the cold Irish Sea created a more efficient metabolism for my body to burn fat and I began losing weight. A lot of weight…I lost almost 60 lbs in the space of a year! I am now fitter, healthier and lighter than I was even as a teenager!
This summer, having more confidence swimming in the sea and wanting to challenge myself to do more, I took up cliff diving. I know…I get goosebumps thinking about it myself! Dublin has an amazing coastline dotted with cliffs and big rocks so I began searching out places to dive and jump off of. Cliff diving taught me to be aware of my surroundings (Is the cliff flat enough to launch off of? Is the sea at the entry point deep enough? Is this a dive or a jump?) and it also taught me to direct my focus and attention to the dive. I learnt to be in the dive 100% and not be distracted. The number of times when I didn’t focus and was careless to assess the dive situation, I came out of the sea with injuries. AlhamdulilLah, those experiences taught me the lesson of not letting my ego get in the way of my mental preparation and they reminded me just how frail and weak I am and just how Merciful Allah subhana wa ta’ala is in healing me.
The Irish Sea has a been blessing to me and having such easy access to it (it’s 5 minutes away from my house) has made it easier for me to spend time healing by the water. I am not the only person who has found peace by the sea. Most of the men and women I meet swimming go down to the Irish Sea because they have found it healing and invigorating. They have a great joie de vivre that can only come from people who are grateful and appreciative of their life and they also seem much younger than their age. I call the Irish Sea ‘The Fountain of Youth’!
I end this post with a lovely quote from Khalil Gibran:
‘But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.’