It is always good to be back underwater. During Galungan holiday I came back to my hometown in Singaraja. Everyone was super busy preparing for the celebration. But in the meantime, I also joined as a volunteering activity in my mom’s village which is only 20 minutes away from Singaraja. Everything started when I was in Ubud on a rainy afternoon at a small cafe near the campuhan river. I recently saw a picture of coral restoration activity from Bli Fendi, a connection that I never met before on LinkedIn. I dared myself to send him a message asking whether I could join them as a volunteer or not (even my diving skill is not that advanced, but for the sake of curiosity, why not?). Long story short, he called me and we talked about all the technical parts where I can join and all the expectations. Surprisingly, the meeting point and all the team members were from Arrows Dive, a dive center where I got my open water diving license 3 years ago. And, yes, again, I don’t know how the universe works. I’d approach a stranger (not that random one). It turns out I met my instructor, neighbors, and everyone that I know before, before this project.
Lovina Beach is already known for its dolphin attraction. Every morning, a bunch of boats on board with tourists are chasing the dolphin. They just want to see how beautiful dolphins do their morning dance routine. This year, The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP), through the Directorate of Marine Services, assisted in the development of a coral garden in the waters of Lovina Beach. This assistance is used to create a marine garden design. Several structures in the form of sculptures are arranged into marine parks at a depth of about 10 meters below sea level. The coral reef restoration structure is in the form of an underwater sculpture. Among them are 5 statues of dolphins and a statue of the Goddess Baruna riding a giant turtle.
Honestly, this is a very new experience for me. After a hiatus from diving for 2 years now, going back to the water with an intense working atmosphere is exciting yet nervous. I went diving almost 2 times a day, 4 days in a row. On the first day of diving, I did a refreshing diving skill and technique session. I am grateful to be surrounded by a very humble group of instructors and divemasters. In the middle of their work, they are still taking the time to teach me again about some diving skills. I tried as much as possible to not be their burden during their work time. Moreover, on the second day. I forgot whether, at the first or second dive of that day, waves and currents were very strong. I felt like I had a panic attack for a moment and had struggled to control my breath. I've plunged into the sea and am ready to go down. I was right on the surface of the water with strong waves, making the entire horizon visible but a rolling wave. With that situation, I am only able to rely on a calm and relaxed mind.
Not only there, whenever I am underwater I need to keep a focused, calm mind. Here are some key takeaways I took from my diving log last week.
The key behind controlling your breath is controlling your mind.
When I was a kid, I learned how to do meditation at Pasraman (Hindu religious retreat) and someone said we usually only stay focused within 12 seconds. After that, our mind is like a monkey, needs to go here or there, wants to grab it or there. Diving for me is also a place for meditating. Whenever I am already underwater, water that might get into the mask or dry throat that interferes with breathing, bad thoughts that may suddenly appear. Whatever it is, I need to stay focused and calm at the same time. It also applies daily. I usually get easily distracted with my phone, social media, random thoughts, or just any activity that comes to mind. Dive is where I have to practice, real focus. It requires practice. Absolutely.
You have to be brave yet afraid at the same time because fear keeps you alert.
How great you are as a person, you are still small compared to the ocean. We might be the same as the plankton (or they might even be more beneficial rather than us). How smart you are, even a professor in ocean science or whatever it is that you can claim yourself as the one who knows the ocean better, we are still human. Yes, diving requires bravery, but it is very okay to be scared at the moment. Because scare is the other way you acknowledge the ocean greatness but still make you stay alert and prepare anything at very best.
Just keep swimming and keep swimming.
In the middle of the work time underwater, Bli Buda asked me to stay on the one point within a few meters away from the statue. He gave me a hand gesture signal to hold tight on a boat anchor rope. At the time I tried to stand still while holding the rope my head and vision got turned upside down. I was standing on a slope where I didn't know which direction I was looking at. Bli Buda and Bli Fendy quickly held me back. Then I feel better just lay prone on the seabed. The day after that, another team member told me what I just need to do is just keep swimming. Later on the other dive, I bring my camera down and do it. No matter how difficult it is to balance the buoyancy, somersault, or whatever, just keep flapping the Finns and keep swimming. That is how you know your body better. So, whenever you are doing right now, falling, failure, fall down, get up again, just keep swimming and keep swimming.
Work. Out. More.
There was a time where the current was too strong and I was not allowed to go down. With all the equipment already installed throughout my body, what I need to do is hold my body back from the drifting current by hanging to the boat’s-balancing-bamboo. My core tightens up. I am still able to feel it until a week after. Setting up all gears, BCD, and the tank needs strong power. I am again reminding myself to keep the workout/running routine every day (Also dance).
Our plan is just a plan, every decision is made by the sea.
This one might sound more technical. I am sure most people who work in the field know this. Everything that we’ve planned already might be not aligned with what is on the field. Often the sea conditions are unpredictable. The statue is already pulled into the sea, but can’t be immersed because of the current or any other circumstances that are out of your plan. That is why the team required strong communication, good leadership, maintaining the mood and the ability to make fast and precise decisions. Moreover, if you are already under the water. Your communication only relies on your hand or body gestures. Our plan is just a plan, every decision is made by the sea (nature).
There is a lot more that I can tell you. I am now out of my words. This is why I love diving and the underwater world. Not only the mesmerizing view under the sea (if there is no plastic), I also feel all the skills I gain here resonate and are able to apply daily. Let me know which of my key takeaways I wrote that might resonate with you as well. Are you now interested to join me going diving?
Greetings from me (left), Banyu Milir Project Team and Arrows Dive Center (Right)