PRESENCE | Daily Plunging with Ella

How one habit can bring presence and gratitude.


“Thank you. Please forgive me. I love you. I am sorry” - the Ho’oponopono prayer I recite every morning as I lie on my back in the bitterly cold Atlantic Ocean. This specific practice is an ancient Hawaiian ritual whereby we can heal all things by taking full responsibility for everything that surrounds us. Confession, repentance and reconciliation. Quite the way to start a day!

Some mornings I don’t want to repent. The sand is ice cold beneath my feet from the ocean waves thrashing through the long night. The clouds are low, dark and ominous and I would much prefer to stay wrapped in my warm clothes and go get a coffee like a normal person. 

As the other dog walkers briskly pass me in their coats, eying up this strange English girl, I strip off my clothes and face the sea with a deep resignation that I will soon be in there. My dog Skye, who in the summer will gleefully trot down to the water’s edge with me, sits down with a heavy sigh next to my pile of clothes, with a clear expression of “no way” on her face. “It´s just me today then” I say as I tie my hair on top of my head with conviction. 

Some days are easier than others (the summer is frankly wonderful!) But the winter is a test of endurance and resilience. Diving beneath that first cold wave is a shock that I´m not sure why I put myself through sometimes. But the benefits once its done are incredible.

Running a business, being a parent, working with my husband, as well as life in general, sometimes gets extremely over whelming. Waking up to little boys bellowing for breakfast, playing explosive Star Wars battles or throwing remote controls off the balcony is definitely a rude awakening. I often lie in bed fantasising about being all alone, doing yoga, meditation or just going back to sleep. Not worrying about pack lunches or the fact that my kids have decided over night that they don´t like anything I have for breakfast, despite it all being fine the day before. Then the worry creeps in about money, meetings, creating content, lists and the endless feeling of not quite being good. I need a therapist to sit at the end of my bed for a wake-up session to stop the spiral, but instead I have the cold water.

The first dunk is like a rebirth. A cleansing of the mind as your body hits a temperature it´s not prepared for and the brain goes blank. There´s no worry in that moment other than can I survive this? 

The human knots we tie ourselves into immediately disappear and all that’s left is the mind and body in the present moment. It reactivates a deep part of the brain only concerned with survival and I feel alive, revived and able to deal with anything. As I swim through the swell and look out at the horizon it reminds me of how tiny I am and how, in a moment, this ocean could swallow me up for ever. My body is strong though, as is my mind, so I pound through the waves back to my sanity. 

My skin tingles as the circulation kicks in to keep the blood pumping and keep me warm. The cells are flooded with fresh oxygenated blood, boosting my immune system with a supersonic blast. My body must start working extra hard meaning I´m burning the energy that created those morning spirals transforming it into a new frame of mind and a new me. Every single day.

My only aquatic friend is the elderly man who lives up the street. When we compare stories of the cold exhilaration afterwards, he tells me how this practice helped cured his prostate cancer. So, he’s there, with me, come rain or shine baptising his renewed body.

I take a moment in the water to cleanse my energy centres by focusing on opening my crown chakra above the top of my head as well as the energy points in the soles of my feet. Imagining the light from the sun pouring through my crown, out through my feet and the cleansing saltwater permeating my every cell. I feel with every inch of my being that my body is engaged and listening. That this moment every day heals me on a deeply cellular level, and I am upgrading to a better version of the woman who entered the ocean moments ago. 

As I say goodbye to the water for another day, I trial my finger tops along the surface and whisper “thank you.” Feeling insanely grateful for that moment ensures a very clear message is sent to the universe that I love this life no matter how tricky it sometimes feels. 

When we express gratitude in the present moment it connects us to universal source energy which is the most potent energy for creation and manifestation. The more we can match the vibration of gratitude in the present moment the more likely it is that we can co-create with the universe what it is we truly desire.

The universe only listens to energy which is why it is so important to have these rituals that keep us connected on a higher level. They bring us back to zero point and align us with a feeling of unconditional love for ourselves and the world around us. With all the craziness happening in our realities right now it´s so easy to forget to feel grateful for the things we have and appreciate the now moment. I never thought I would be a 40-year-old open water swimmer in the Portuguese seas, but here we are, and once my swim is done, I know I can handle anything!