Written by:
B.T. Gilligan

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Just Keep Breathing

During my junior year of college the degree requirements changed and, as a result, I found myself with 36 credits of free electives. Because of the change, I was scrambling to find classes with no prerequisites that I could take. I took classes in Performance Theater, public speaking, library systems, violence and religion, and even scuba diving. These classes introduced me to all sorts of new ideas and helped me have a well-rounded education, but the scuba diving class was the most influential class of my undergraduate career.

Humans have a natural tendency to gasp air in and hold it when things go wrong.

In scuba diving the most important lesson we learned was that when things go wrong, keep breathing. The air would always be flowing through the regulator so long slow breaths were the most important thing we needed to help ensure our survival. This may seem to be common sense, but it isn’t. Humans have a natural tendency to gasp air in and hold it when things go wrong. In scuba diving this can be deadly. Gasping in can allow water into our lungs and cause drowning. Holding in air can create pressure changes that cause our lungs to expand and pop like a balloon. There is never a reason to stop breathing - even if the regulator fails, it is designed to fail in such a way that the air continues to flow out and can still be inhaled, even without a mouth piece. Continuing to slowly breathe forces a person to relax, think, and get to the surface so that they can find help and stay alive.

What is true in scuba diving is true in life. We must keep breathing. There are times in life where things go wrong and we feel like we are drowning in our life, and our natural human tendency is to hold it in, keep it to ourselves, and never let it go. This can be deadly. Scientists have discovered that holding it all in can, cause high blood pressure, early heart-attacks, and depression. Scientists have also found that the opposite is true, when we keep moving, letting things out, and getting appropriate help, we lower our risk for stress related illnesses and actually extend our life.

There is never a reason to stop breathing...

There will always be times in our life where things go wrong - the regulator can break, the pressure can become overwhelming, or we become entangled in seaweed. In those moments we have a choice to either hold it in, which can be deadly, or we can keep breathing, allowing to keep moving, to get the help we need and find a way through it all.

Discussion Question: Discuss a time when things went wrong and discuss what helped you keep moving through that season of your life.