For years, I’ve tried to meditate, and failed.

I get distracted and lose my concentration. Background music doesn’t help, because I listen to it. The sounds of nature work the same way. But finally, after decades of trying , I’ve found the perfect meditation mechanism for me, and it’s swimming.

I do laps and laps and laps, all in easy strokes, like side stroke, back stroke, sometimes breast stroke. I’m in no hurry and have no set number of laps to do each time I go the pool. Our YMCA swimming pool is so small, it’s more like being in an aquarium than a people pool. I can see how a fish would get pretty neurotic running into walls all day! 

After a few laps, I lose track of time. Rhythmic breathing and soothing sounds of water put me in a meditative state, no matter what’s going in my life or in adjoining lanes at the pool. I'm out there! 

I love the feel of the water on my skin. I figure I’m getting a good cardiac workout, pulling a certain number of pounds against the water. The greatest benefit, of course, is that swimming doesn’t put much pressure on my poor arthritic hips, feet or hands. Some have Achilles’ heels; I have Achilles’ wrists. After my swim, I sit in the hot tub for a few minutes right over the jets, if possible. 

What do you do to reach your meditative state? 

Photos taken May 3, 2009, at California Academy of Sciences