NLP and Freediving

NLP And Freediving

The Surprising Symbiosis: NLP and Freediving

In the vast ocean of psychology, personal development and sports, there are occasional pairings that seem as unlikely as a fish riding a bicycle. One such remarkable combination is the relationship between NLP and freediving. In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into the mysterious depths of NLP and the serene world of freediving, exploring the unexpected parallels and the ways they enrich each other.

A Freediver’s Journey with NLP

This week, something truly intriguing captured my focus as I tuned in to Nanja van der Broek discussing her innovative use of NLP techniques to enhance her freediving experience. Despite being both an avid freediver and an NLP practitioner, it was only now that the powerful connection between these two passions became apparent to me.

Freediving is a sport that challenges the limits of human endurance and mental fortitude. For those who venture into the depths of the ocean with a single breath, the mental aspect is just as critical as physical training. Nanja van der Broek, an accomplished freediver, has been making waves in the world of freediving by harnessing the power of NLP to enhance her mental game. 

The Art of Freediving

Before we dive into Nanja’s journey with NLP, let’s first understand the world of freediving. Freediving is a discipline that requires divers to explore the depths of the ocean on a single breath. It demands extraordinary breath-holding abilities, physical conditioning, and, most importantly, mental composure.

Nanja van der Broek’s Journey

Hailing from the Netherlands, she has earned recognition for her remarkable performances and dedication to the sport. Her journey into freediving is a testament to the synergy between mental strength and athletic excellence.

By embracing NLP techniques, she has unlocked a deeper level of mental strength and resilience, allowing her to explore the ocean’s depths with grace and determination. Her story serves as an inspiration for aspiring freedivers and a reminder that, in the world of sports, the mind can be the key to reaching new depths of excellence.

Unraveling the Magic of NLP

NLP, stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a psychological approach that focuses on the connection between neurological processes, language, and behavioral patterns acquired through experience. It was developed in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is based on several core principles:

  1. Neurology (Neuro): This aspect emphasizes that our experiences and thoughts are rooted in our neurological processes, including our senses and how we perceive the world.
  2. Linguistics (Linguistic): Language plays a crucial role in shaping our thoughts and behavior. NLP explores how language can be used to influence our mental and emotional states.
  3. Programming: This part of NLP focuses on the idea that we can change or “reprogram” our thought patterns and behaviors to achieve specific goals or outcomes. NLP techniques are often used for personal development and self-improvement.

NLP practitioners use various techniques and strategies to help individuals achieve personal and professional goals, improve communication skills, and overcome limiting beliefs. These techniques often involve changing thought patterns, addressing phobias or anxieties, and enhancing interpersonal relationships.

It’s important to note that NLP is a controversial field, and its effectiveness is a subject of debate among psychologists and scientists. While some people find value in NLP techniques, others consider it pseudoscience and question its scientific validity. As with any self-help or personal development approach, it’s essential to approach NLP with a critical mindset and consider the evidence and research supporting its claims.

How NLP Enhances Mental Toughness in Freediving

Freediving is more than just a sport; it’s an art of pushing the boundaries of human capability, exploring the depths of the underwater world with a single breath. While physical prowess is undoubtedly essential in freediving, the mental aspect plays an equally crucial role.There can be a fascinating synergy between NLP and freediving. Here we can learn on how NLP techniques can help enhance the mental resilience and performance of freedivers.

Understanding the Freediver’s Mind

Freediving demands exceptional mental strength. As divers descend into the abyss, they confront a unique set of psychological challenges:

  1. Anxiety and Fear: The depths of the ocean can be an intimidating place. Anxiety and fear can creep in, affecting a diver’s focus and confidence.
  2. Breath-Holding: Breath-holding can trigger panic and discomfort, making it crucial for freedivers to control their breath and remain calm.
  3. Visualization: Visualization is a powerful tool in freediving. Divers mentally rehearse their dives, foreseeing success, and mastering their technique.
  4. Concentration: Maintaining concentration during the dive, even in the face of distractions, is essential for safety and performance.

How NLP Techniques Can Help Freedivers

Anchoring: In NLP, anchoring involves associating a specific physical or mental state with a particular trigger or gesture. Freedivers can use anchoring to create a state of calm and focus before a dive. By repeatedly using a particular gesture or phrase before practice, they can train their minds to associate it with a relaxed, focused state.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Techniques: NLP offers various techniques for managing fear and anxiety, such as the Fast Phobia Cure. Freedivers can use these techniques to address any fears related to deep water or breath-holding, helping them stay composed during their dives.

Positive Self-Talk: NLP encourages positive self-talk and affirmation. Freedivers can use this to boost their confidence and remind themselves of their training and capability. Repeating affirmations like “I am calm, focused, and in control” can help maintain a composed mindset.

Visualization and Mental Rehearsal: NLP places a strong emphasis on visualization, which is already a fundamental practice in freediving. Freedivers can incorporate NLP techniques to refine their mental rehearsal, ensuring they vividly imagine every detail of their dive, from the descent to the ascent.

Goal Setting: NLP techniques can assist freedivers in setting clear and achievable goals. This process helps divers break down their objectives into manageable steps, making the path to improvement more tangible and motivating.

The Power of Language

Language, as a central aspect of NLP, can also be harnessed by freedivers. Self-talk, both internally and externally, can influence a diver’s mindset and overall experience. By using positive and empowering language, freedivers can encourage a more confident and resilient mental state.

The Role of NLP in Nanja’s Freediving Journey

Nanja’s secret weapon in her pursuit of freediving excellence is NLP. Here’s how she utilizes NLP techniques to elevate her performance:

  1. Visualization and Mental Rehearsal: NLP places a strong emphasis on visualization, a practice that Nanja incorporates into her training. Before a dive, she vividly imagines every detail of the descent, from the initial plunge into the water to the serene moments amidst the deep blue. Visualization helps her mentally prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
  2. Positive Affirmations: Nanja recognizes the significance of positive self-talk in freeing the mind from limiting beliefs. Using NLP’s positive affirmations, she combats any doubts that may arise before or during a dive. Phrases like “I am strong and focused” serve as mental anchors, boosting her confidence.
  3. Anchoring for Calmness: Maintaining composure is crucial in freediving. Nanja uses NLP’s anchoring technique to create a state of calm and focus before her dives. By associating a specific physical gesture with relaxation, she can trigger this mindset when needed, even in the high-pressure environment of competitive freediving.
  4. Goal Setting and Achievement: NLP techniques guide Nanja in setting clear and achievable goals. She breaks down her objectives into manageable steps, creating a roadmap for her training and competition. This approach keeps her motivated and on track.
  5. Managing Anxiety and Fear: The depths of the ocean can be intimidating, but Nanja has learned to manage anxiety and fear through NLP. Techniques like the Fast Phobia Cure have helped her address any concerns related to deep water, ensuring that she remains composed during her dives.

Exercises to Achieve Better Freediving With NLP

Anchoring for Calmness


Anchoring is an NLP technique that involves associating a specific emotional or mental state with a physical gesture or trigger. Freedivers can use anchoring to create a calm and focused mental state before and during their dives. Here’s how it works:

Exercise Steps:
a. Find a Quiet Space: 

Begin by finding a quiet and comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.


b. Recall a Calm State: 

Close your eyes and think back to a time when you felt exceptionally calm and composed. It could be a memory from a relaxing vacation, a peaceful moment in nature, or any situation where you felt completely at ease.


c. Create an Anchor: 

As you vividly recall this calm state, simultaneously perform a simple physical gesture, such as touching your thumb and forefinger together, taking a deep breath, or pressing your thumb against your palm. This gesture will serve as your anchor.


d. Repeat and Strengthen: 

Repeat this exercise several times, ensuring that you consistently associate the physical anchor with the calm emotional state. Each time you do this, intensify the feeling of calmness.


e. Apply During Dives: 

When preparing for a dive, use your anchor to trigger that sense of calmness. Perform the physical gesture and recall the calm state. This will help you maintain composure and reduce anxiety underwater.

Positive Affirmations for Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs can hinder freedivers from reaching their full potential. NLP offers techniques to challenge and replace these beliefs with empowering thoughts. Positive affirmations are one such technique:

Exercise Steps:
a. Identify Limiting Beliefs: 

Begin by identifying the specific limiting beliefs that may be holding you back as a freediver. These could be thoughts like “I can’t go any deeper” or “I’ll run out of air.”


b. Reframe Beliefs: 

Transform these limiting beliefs into positive affirmations. For instance, “I can’t go any deeper” can become “I am capable of going deeper with practice and proper technique.”


c. Visualization: 

Close your eyes and visualize yourself successfully overcoming the challenges associated with your limiting beliefs. Imagine a dive where you go deeper than ever before or remain calm throughout the entire descent.


d. Daily Affirmation Practice: 

Repeat your positive affirmations daily, preferably in the morning or before diving sessions. Say them out loud with conviction. Over time, these affirmations will replace the limiting beliefs in your subconscious mind.


e. Monitor Progress: 

Keep a journal of your dives and experiences. Document instances where you felt more confident or achieved better results. This can reinforce the positive changes in your mindset.
f. Seek Support: Consider working with an NLP practitioner or a mental coach who specializes in freediving to further refine your positive affirmations and provide guidance on overcoming limiting beliefs.

By consistently practicing these NLP exercises, freedivers can develop a strong mental foundation that fosters calmness and confidence while dismantling the barriers of limiting beliefs, ultimately allowing them to explore the depths of the ocean with greater ease and success.

Dive Deeper and Calmer

Freediving is a sport that requires not only physical prowess but also a strong and disciplined mind. The mental aspect of freediving is as deep and mysterious as the oceans themselves. By integrating NLP techniques into their training and mental preparation, freedivers can enhance their performance, face their fears, and embark on each dive with a calm and confident mindset. As the connection between NLP and freediving continues to evolve, we can expect new and innovative ways to unlock the potential of the freediver’s mind, allowing them to explore the ocean’s depths with grace and determination.

Luciana is a yoga and SUP yoga teacher, breathwork instructor, reiki master, freediving instructor and sports and ocean lover. Freediving is her greatest passion and can’t stay a day away from the salty water. Her practice has helped her transcend autoimmune diseases and conquer her fears. She uses the power to breath and movement to help others transcend their own limits, expand their boundaries and heal past and present wounds.

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