Feel Alive Freedive Initiative


Feeling mentally unwell is something that affects us all - directly through personal experience, or indirectly through the ones we love.

Depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, grief, chronic stress and mood disorders can be debilitating conditions that lower the quality of human experience, leaving us and our loved ones, in an emotionally and mentally exhausted state. It can feel confusing and isolating.

I want to help. 

I teach freediving and breathwork as contemplative practices in my capacity as a professionally trained freediving and yoga teacher. Freediving and Pranayama / Breathwork, if taught by a trained professional, are safe, natural and transformational activities that can reshape the brain for ongoing wellbeing benefits. 

Due to the remoteness of many Western Australian regional towns, people struggling to stay mentally health often feel isolated and burdensome and are unable to get help -  sadly, sometimes before it is too late. I truly believe there is no magic pill to solve mental dis-ease and that, quite often, personal support and opportunities is all we need to help us to regain our feeling of freedom from whatever 'funk' we may be feeling stuck in. It is my aim to bring my unique and personal blend of breathwork, freediving and calm-invigorating natural therapy training to these remote locations in WA in order to spread a positive 'pro-life' message and to get help where it is needed most. Sometimes all it takes is a refreshing change - to have someone caring and engaging spend some time with you, teaching you something new, healthy and interesting - in order to awaken you and free you from your funk. This is what I hope to do for others with the time and knowledge I have to give, with your help.

I need your support to transport me to these regional towns (transport expenses ex-Fremantle), to find suitable accommodation (a private room in the regional town) and to offer my professional services (yoga, breathwork, and freediving instruction), equipment (basic dive, yoga and safety equipment), and a safe and comfortable learning environment (community venue hire) for people in need who may not otherwise have the means.

BLUEBACK OCEANBREATH WORKSHOPS aim to teach people how to non-judgementally inquire and perpetuate the peaceful nature of their silent inner witness and to make positive ego-less action the enemy of negative thought through yoga and freediving practices.

I have developed three (3) Oceanbreath Workshop offerings that vary in their focus:

Simple, accessible breathwork-based (pranayama)

Simple, accessible yoga-asana based (postural alignment)

A workshop that incorporates the foundational elements of freediving to engage a more active and nature-based approach to staying mentally healthy.

Fig. 2 'I am one drop in the ocean'. Underwater photograph of TD taken on a breath-hold in Amed, Indonesia. Photo credit: Agata Bogusz.

I hope to begin this year to offer these workshops and training courses in freediving and yoga every winter in regional towns across WA as a special community support tool for people and towns in need. With this GOFUNDME I am asking my community to support me by helping to fund this initial pilot project called FEEL ALIVE FREEDIVE INITIATIVE: WINTER PROGRAM beginning in Exmouth in August 2018 as a part of the 'Ningalens Festival' (http://ningalensfestival.com/) and the "Free the Funk" initiative in the remote NW of WA. I hope to discover whether teaching people about relaxation techniques, breathwork and freediving, if I can help to reduce the number of people suffering from mental unwellness in remote coastal WA towns. I have dedicated lots of personal time developing and improving my unique teachings and continue to be interested in the feedback of my students in order to improve this process, for the both of us. With this novel combination of teachings I hope to help permanently re-establish people's positive attitude towards life and re-connect them with the deep well of inner wisdom that is the sea inside.

Fig. 3 'Freedivers For Life'. Perth Freedivers Club, a community freediving group for social connectedness.

My methods integrate peaceful, still and silent practices that aim to develop self-awareness and self-acceptance with more active practices that are intended to facilitate flow state - the event of optimal experience that is linked to self-contentment, the pursuit of a personally meaningful life and happiness.

I am sincerely grateful for any help you can give to make my journey and theirs a more joyful and supported one. I am full of gratitude for those who have already supported my project so far with your kind words or generous donation. Any offering to help this project find wings, according to your means, is warmly appreciated.

My own personal journey with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, grief and depression has been a challenging and thoroughly transformational one. Experiencing the sudden death of my beloved partner in 2010 was a major turning point in my life. It changed the way I understood life and death, loving and living. It actually caused me to wake up, seek avenues of healthful healing and discover a wealth of opportunities in every day life to improve my way of being. I learned that all we have to heal is within us, if we are open to learning how to openly and compassionately listen to our selves.

Through a decade on the path of knowledge focused on apnea science, human physiology, psychology and traditional yogic practices, and equipped with an open mind, cheeky humor and insatiable curiosity, I reunited my self and my soul through the wonder of nature, and the human experience.

It all started with slowing down, learning about respiratory physiology and experiencing years of the positive, life-affirming effects of 'blue mind'.

The calming, resilience-building effects of working with the sea on a daily basis, pranayama / breath-control practices and aquatic apnea have shaped my brain and body for the better.

I dedicated the last decade of my life to developing as a professional freediving instructor (PADI / AIDA), yoga teacher (275HR YTT), emergency first response instructor, outback wilderness explorer and human being. I'm now completing a Diploma of Counselling with the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (AIPC) whil woring full-time as a freediving and yoga teacher in Perth and across regional West Australia. I have a broad skill-base and educational background, having worked for over 10 years in community engagement projects around Western Australia and New Zealand.  I run the annual not-for-profit Fremantle Underwater Film Festival (www.fuff.com.au), an outdoor family-friendly event, around Western Australia during austral summer-autumn. I recently set up and created the Mermantle (Fremantle Merman) Calendar 2021 and the world's first Young Men's Mental Health and Wellbeing Program involving freediving, breathwork and emotional intelligence / mindfulness training in 2020/2021 in a beautiful collaboration with local mental health charity, Fremantlemind Inc. 

Fig. 4 Joy is a state of mind, not an external condition.

With your help I would love to develop and trial an annual winter program combining elements of my Oceanbreath Workshops involving freediving, yoga philosophy and experiencing wild nature, to help those feeling stuck in any negative emotion, to give them the opportunity to free themselves of the mind-chatter and stress of social convention, even just for a day. I offer to share my knowledge as a nature-based breathwork specialist, yoga practitioner and freedive teacher with experience in positive transformational processes to encourage others to reclaim their mental health in order to realize their human potential in this life.

As a passionate ocean-lover, yoga-freedive teacher, marine scientist and philosopher, 'Walking the Whale Road' is a term I use in my teachings for the mental migrations we can thoughtfully make, that help us uncover our own inner wisdom and understanding of our humble place and belonging in this very moment in the biosphere. Like the annual journey of the humpback whale population along our West Australian coastline every year, we can move in harmony with the flow of nature, and travel in peace and unity along our path. The choice is ours to open our minds to the reality of our oneness with nature and to realize every moment of our lives as a joyful, focused and flowing optimal experience. Working together, we are better. 

I encourage anyone feeling like they are having a tough time of life to open their heart to the possibility of transformation rather than feeling forced to change.

Give breathwork, yoga, nature-immersion or freediving a go - I firmly believe these activities are accessible to everyone given the right modifications of the practices and approaches. 
Quote by Tibetan Buddhist / Happiness Specialist, Pema Chodron, on change:

“The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hang-ups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom. Someone who is very angry also has a lot of energy; that energy is what’s so juicy about him or her. That’s the reason people love that person.

The idea isn’t to try to get rid of your anger, but to make friends with it, to see it clearly with precision and honesty, and also to see it with gentleness. That means not judging yourself as a bad person, but also not bolstering yourself up by saying, “It’s good that I’m this way, it’s right that I’m this way. Other people are terrible, and I’m right to be so angry at them all the time.”

The gentleness involves not repressing the anger but also not acting it out. It is something much softer and more openhearted than any of that. It involves learning how, once you have fully acknowledged the feeling of anger and the knowledge of who you are and what you do, to let it go. You can let go of the usual pitiful little story line that accompanies anger and begin to see clearly how you keep the whole thing going. So whether it’s anger or craving or jealousy or fear or depression—whatever it might be—the notion is not to try to get rid of it, but to make friends with it. That means getting to know it completely, with some kind of softness, and learning how, once you’ve experienced it fully, to let go.” 

― Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness

Fig. 5 Underwater Play. In the pool and in the sea, I enjoy freediving. Always with a  buddy. Never freedive alone.

Freediving is not only a competitive sport. It si also a recreational activity A practice, for fun! It is essentially an activity of breath-holding underwater that can be freely enjoyed as a recreational pursuit - with the simple intention of exploring the self, just 'being' or opening one's self up to the opportunity to experience biospherical union. It must be practiced with a buddy for safety reasons as freediving has inherent risks that need to be learned to safely avoid those risks. 

I hope to inspire others to actively seek to realize their human potential with awareness and self-determination.

I have found that:

regularly exploring natural movement,
regularly experiencing and observing the natural world,
regularly practicing yoga, freediving and non-judgemental philosophizing in order to hone these skills,

are all part of a powerful combination for diving confidently into life . Taking The Whale Road to self-realization can be a short, intense journey of metaphysical healing of the mind-body-spirit-nature connection, if we just open ourselves up with compassion and an intention to improve our lives for the sake of our selves, our community and the greater good.

I will begin this program's fundraising with a solo hike along the entire length of the Ningaloo Reef (320 km), beside Western Australia's Humpback Whale Highway from Red Bluff to Bundegi in March 2018, and continue my journey to realizing this program into the blue beyond.

Fig. 6 'The Whale Road Walk: Hiking the Ningaloo Reef' - I undertook a solo hike of 320 km to kickstart the Feel Alive. Freedive Initiative in March 2018. Many thanks to those that supported my efforts on the hike (inc. Whalebone Brewing Company, Exmouth and various friends and community supporters).

I hope you can pitch in to help me fund and develop the FEEL ALIVE FREEDIVE INITIATIVE, this winter, a program for teaching people how to freedive, facilitating 'flow state' experiences and inviting people back-to-nature, to open people up to the healing aspects of union with the ocean, the water, ones self and each other.

I have found biophilia (nature-connectedness and love-of-life), freediving and flow state as essential to my on-going recovery. I wish to share my story with others and, with your help, teach others how to realize their aquatic human potential and their innate ability to transform our state of being into a way that is far more positive and life-affirming that it formerly was.

Join me for a freediving course, Oceanbreath Workshop, yoga session or a nature experience throughout the year or support others to realize their dreams. I hope to run courses throughout winter 2018 (June, July, August) facilitating this process of healing. Quite often, in Winter, we can feel like we are experiencing our longest, darkest hour - literally and metaphorically. For that reason I believe running this initiative in Winter will be especially meaningful. 

For more info - feel free to give me a bell 0439770038 (Tania)

For more info on BLUEBACK FREEDIVING & YOGA https://www.facebook.com/bluebackfreediving/
For more info on NINGALENS 2018 http://ningalensfestival.com/ 
For more info on FREE THE FUNK https://www.facebook.com/freethefunkexmouth/ 

Help me help others - or join in, and help your self!
Please SHARE this message of support.
Together we can make the world a better place - for our self, for our biosphere.

Thank you.

Fig. 7 Jubilant Immersion. Underwater photograph taken on a breath-hold at Cathedral Rocks, Wadjemup (Rottnest Island). Photo credit: Tania Douthwaite.

For more info on the Fremantle Underwater Film Festival https://www.fuff.com.au/
For more info on Kraken Ocean Art http://tdouthwa.wixsite.com/krakenoceanart

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Tania Douthwaite
Fremantle WA

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