Sink or swim: How diving into a pool can lift your spirits

Sink or swim: How diving into a pool can lift your spirits

The light dances below the surface of the pool. Once I fall into my rhythm, the world slips away, and I am lost in the delicious nothingness that comes with swimming lengths. I have no weight. Sounds are muted. And the water, but for its resistance, is barely perceptible against my skin. My mind slows to an easy pace. I am, in the vernacular of fitness buffs, in the zone.

“The water holds you in a different way than the earth can,” says Canadian swimming icon Mark Tewksbury, who, among his many accolades, cinched gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. “It’s incredibly meditative.”

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From Scandinavia with Love: Hygge, health and happiness

I’m standing in front of the iconic home furnishings store, Illums Bolighus, in Copenhagen, transfixed by the window display. I know little about Danish design so it’s not that which holds me but instead the slice-of-life scenario playing out behind the glass. Two faceless, wigless mannequins, clad in slippers and pajamas, seem to be gazing out and into the rainy street from their elegantly understated bedroom. Candles, knickknacks and books stacked askew clutter nearby end tables, and minimalist lamps cast a golden hue suggesting it is mid-morning. From the unmade bed behind them, with its randomly scattered pillows and crumpled sheets and duvet, it appears the couple has just got up and is pondering whether they should stay up or go back to bed. So inviting is the scene that I find myself hoping they’ll choose the latter so that I can crawl beneath the covers with them.

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When bingo is not enough

When bingo is not enough

It’s a small group, nine in total, the eldest of whom is 103. Beyond the facilitator and the program’s creator  – the remaining seven participants are long-term care residents at Schlegel Village’s Wentworth Heights in Hamilton, Ontario. The group is one of many that gathers once or twice a week in the site’s non-denominational chapel to sip coffee or tea, sing a few songs and talk “into” an Aboriginal talking stick. The stick serves as visual cue meant to signal respect for the speaker and, passed upon request from participant to participant, ensures everyone gets a turn.

After the opening upbeat sing-along, a participant picks a topic from the dozens listed in a guidebook resting on the centre of the table. Being Yourself? Making Amends? Death and Dying? No, today they are talking about gratitude, a general theme yet one that seems to inspire folks to drill deeply into their own experiences.

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