Paige is a modern-day warrior whose story was among those collected by Jane G. Doyle while writing her book, You Heal You: Thriving After Illness, Pain, and Loss. The story didn't make it into the final publication, so Jane shares it today in hopes you will be inspired by Paige's journey to find the courage to overcome a lifelong fear.
Flying into Cancun, Mexico, I pressed my face against the airplane window. The Caribbean Sea was a wonderland of color. The most brilliant aqua shimmied next to the deepest turquoise and winked at the most vivid green. I didn't know the ocean could be so pretty—like an abstract painting. Later, in my room, while unpacking, I picked up a local guidebook from the coffee table. I was captivated by the underwater sculptures by artist Jason de Caires Taylor. I had to see his spectacular artworks submerged deep in the ocean at the Museo Subacuatico de Arte. So, I signed up for one-on-one scuba diving training. Then I spent the next 24 hours praying, repeating affirmations, and tapping abundantly.
Ever since I could remember (and I was 53 years old then), I have been afraid of deep, dark water. I had no idea why, only that my inner self was in a coffin of fear. The following morning, waiting for my diving instructor, I sat stiffly and in silence, unable to find my center. I felt less than friendly. Facing away from the sun, somehow I got the strength to ask myself, “Who does this fear belong to? Why do I have it?” I answered loudly, “It’s not mine!” Then, silence. Then, “Oh. I got it! My mom often spoke of ‘terrifying, deep, dark water.’ She was adamant about not going near water. My fear came from my mom. Her fear became my fear. Wow. Whew.”
The moment was magical, an epiphany. I was released. Many of my fears are not the truth of who I am or who I was meant to be. My mother’s way is not my way. Great Scott. A breath of peace brought me back to my heart. I inhaled and exhaled normally again. With every particle of my being, I clearly saw my inheritance. I had no other evidence or experience to support why I was deathly afraid of deep, dark water.
“Are you ready to go now? Or, we can go later.” Zapped from my trance, an explosion burst forth from my face: “Now!” I knew that if I didn’t dive then, I would procrastinate forever.
As we swim through this class on earth called “life,” I learned that our goal (such as to become a world-class artist) is not the destination but the path. The true adventure is the path along the way. In Mexico, my goal became to view the masterpieces submerged about 25 feet in the ocean. The only way to see them is to dive, something I had never before contemplated doing. Reaching for my self-assigned goal forced me to face my fear of deep, dark water. And it handed me the most awakening moments of my life.
I needed help, though. Months before my trip, through an online self-help program, I learned about Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and watched a how-to video on The Tapping Solution website. The EFT method uses fingertip tapping to activate acupressure points along the body’s energy meridians while repeating positive affirmations. A person can release psychological tension and negative emotions, and clear long-held traumas and deep-seated fears. S/he gains a new perspective on the past and the freedom to change course.
So I had given tapping a whirl, and the self-taught tool came in handy in Mexico. I sat in my room and tapped while repeating:
“Even though I’m scared to death to go into this water, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though the water is deeper and darker than I’ve ever seen, I want to overcome my fear.
What if I can overcome my fear?
What if the water will be good to me?
I wonder if I could become really good at scuba diving.
I wonder if I could become a talented diver.
I could teach other people to dive.
Scuba diving could be easy for me.
I am excited to dive.
I can’t wait to dive.”
The EFT technique allowed me to look directly into my soul and be honest about my feelings and the source of my fears. I saw things I hadn’t seen before. Tapping brought me out of my negative thought patterns into a new world of possibilities—of love without fear.
I prayed to the fisherman, scuba diver spirits, angels, and God to join me, help me do the right thing, and ensure my safety.
I read from my journal others’ kind words about me and love notes to myself: “Cheeko (my nickname for myself), I just adore you and I love your courage and I’m so proud of you.”
Now was the moment to use all the tools that were given to me on my path and that I had been practicing. To dive. In the arms of an angel, I was lifted out of the coffin of fear. I let go of what wasn’t mine. I trusted in our small boat on the big waves. The ride out was a hive of activity. The instructor was gathering up the gear. I had an oxygen tank and wore a wetsuit and goggles. I could no longer see the shore.
And then, the boat stopped. We were in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. The water was like an icing of deep, dark blue. The instructor said, “All you have to do is backflip out of the boat. I'll catch you underwater. Just hold onto your goggles so they don't come off. We're gonna go at the count of three. 1 2 3.”
I closed my eyes, trusted the powers that I would be alright, and backflipped out of the boat. “Okay God, catch me!”
My dive was much more than I could have ever imagined. Underwater is beautiful and peaceful. Beneath the ceiling of the ocean is light. The water is a translucent, pale blue-green. My body floated effortlessly, as if in Jell-o, not completely solid yet supported. My steady breathing centered me. Everything was in harmony—with ease, grace, and glory.
I didn’t get to go to the underwater museum to see the sculptures. I no longer needed to. The dive alone was the triumph. I had fulfilled my journey with courage and love.
Artist Paige Freida Summers began her career in New York City with Yves Saint Laurent, creating portraits for VIP clients, and Chanel as the company’s exclusive portraitist, and also worked for Lancôme and Paloma Picasso. Summers was the exclusive in-house portrait artist for The Greenbrier, the five-diamond luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. In 2012 in Fairhope, Alabama, she founded A Summers Studio and continues to create portraits, canvas paintings, and custom murals.
Nicolas Ortner, CEO, The Tapping Solution, LLC, is committed to bringing Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to a global audience. He created the first online program to teach tapping, a healing modality that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. His bestselling book The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living was published by Hay House in 2013.
Museuo Subacuratico de Arte (MUSA) was established in 2009 as part of the National Marine Park of Cancun. Artist Jason de Caires Taylor created and submerged over 450 sculptures weighing a total of over 200 tons. The statues have become home to coral and other aquatic wildlife. Salon Manchones is over eight meters deep and caters to snorkelers and scuba divers.