Visualization Techniques For Divers
Visualization techniques sound like a bit of a hippy concept and maybe a bit abstract too, but what if I told you that they might save your life? Or that they could improve your general technique, confidence, and ability? Not convinced? OK, for the hippy-skeptics, let’s change the terminology and call it mental rehearsal.
Let’s take the example of a reverse block. You’re at the end of your dive and ascending to safety stop depth and, BAM!, your ears hurt and you can’t keep going. Being able to see the surface and not get there can be very scary, particularly at the end of a dive when your air is running low. If you think this scenario through on land, you can work through your response methodically, consider alternatives, and alter your course of action as many times as you want without time pressure or consequences.
You can see that mental rehearsal would prepare you should the situation arise. You would know to descend a little to compress the air and stretch your neck and maybe try blowing your nose before ascending a little and trying again. You would also know that a slate would be invaluable to communicate with other divers as to what you need. Do you have enough air between you and your buddy to wait the block out? Are you sending someone for more air? Are you drifting? Do you have an SMB to alert the boat? Thinking through each possibility means your brain is already prepared. The situation’s not so frightening because you have all the equipment you need and you’ve done it before, albeit in your head. Apply this to scenarios like losing your buddy, a freeflow or BCD malfunction and your preparedness increases for these situations too.
Tech divers don’t look like they’d embrace any hippy techniques but good tech divers use visualization all the time. Once you are beyond the no-stop zone and have required decompression, you cannot reach the surface; this is why you will hear the term ceiling applied, as there is a very real if not actual barrier. Tech divers have to employ underwater solution thinking to any problem they may encounter because the surface is not accessible. They will have run through scenarios that include unanticipated gas loss and equipment malfunction, and this planning can save their lives. Dive in caves or penetrate wrecks and you add another layer of emergency planning. These divers will have thought through a dizzying array of situations; many of which would keep most us awake at night.
These techniques work when making a plan for response to dive emergencies. Thinking through the steps helps ensure that everything from phone numbers to equipment is in the right place to speed response. Think about your last dive. Think about the risks and the potential for problems and think about what you could’ve done had that situation arose. Planning prevents panic and panic is never a good response to any diving incident.
Know Your Flow
On a lighter note, visualizing your dive can help you with the general flow and enjoyment. Thinking your way through your dive will mean you are prepared and ready for your entry with all the required pieces of equipment. Visualize your route, and you are less likely to get lost. Consider your ascent and exit and what to do if you are not where you thought you would be. These techniques mean you are less likely to get flustered and will increase your confidence for coping with whatever the ocean throws your way.
See The Picture
If you love underwater photography then visualizing the image you want to get significantly increases your likelihood of getting it. For example, if you are looking for a killer nudibranch picture with a blue water background, then you’ll spend your time looking for a great specimen in the right place rather than wasting time photographing less desirable compositions. If you’re shooting wide angle with your buddy as a model, this technique works two-fold. Give them a mental picture of what you are looking for and getting them into the perfect position gets far easier.
These techniques will help in any aspect of diving and, in fact, any task anywhere. Taking a little time to think it through before starting will always make sure you have the best approach. Lessons for life delivered by diving 😉