Adriano’s account of swimming the English Channel

In a recent book, Adriano Passini from Brazil explains the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of successfully swimming the English Channel at his first attempt.

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For Adriano Passini the English Channel was a life-long dream, though one that seemed out of reach. After studying meditation with Sri Chinmoy, he gained a new belief and confidence that it would be possible.

In this book, he shares the joys and hardships of his two-year-journey of preparation and finally completion.

Short extracts from book

adriano-english-channel-760“I feel that one of the greatest challenges for a person is to control their own mind. One main aspect of the spiritual life is to bring the mind and the senses under control in order to reach the ultimate goal: complete oneness with our “Inner Pilot,” the soul or God. This is not something that we will be able to achieve within a few weeks, months or years. It may take many incarnations of spiritual discipline to achieve this goal.”

“In long competitions, concentration and mental control are essential, and I believe that is why Sri Chinmoy encourages the practice of endurance sports. It is not only a question of having a healthy body, but also of developing our inner capacities through sport.”

“I have been learning more about this each day with my spiritual teacher. Through meditation it is becoming a reality, and I believe every day I am taking another step towards this inner goal. With each race I do, I am more convinced that this philosophy of self-transcendence in sports is helping us to learn to control and go beyond the mind. So we can tell our mind: “Look what I am capable of!”

“Occasionally, my mind was still invaded by some negative thoughts, but as soon as I became aware of them, I let them burst like balloons. I did not dwell on them. I prayed, meditated and sang in silence all the time. I had memorized a series of aphorisms to recite during the crossing, but I forgot most of them. So I sang the same five mantric songs over and over again. To relieve my mental tension, sometimes I remembered some jokes or some funny incidents that had happened in my life. I thought of people mimicking others and other funny moments. I did everything I could to entertain myself a little and eventually I even laughed. All of those things made my crossing more pleasant.”

***

“Up to the fourth hour, my mind had been a little agitated at times, but when the barrier of four hours was broken, things got better. My mind had adapted to the situation and started to calm down. It seemed as though the swimming became more defined, and I was better able to maintain a peaceful meditative state for longer periods of time. The time had come to appreciate the English Channel crossing even more. During the rest of the crossing, I tried to keep just a few thoughts in my mind. One of them was: “I will not give up. I will not give up. I came here to cross the English Channel and I will not leave it except on the French coast!”

***

“The mental control I needed during the second half of the crossing was extreme. I believe that, were it not for the meditation that I had been practicing for eight years, I would not have been able to achieve it, at least not on my first attempt. It is startling to remember how vulnerable I felt at times during the swim. Being in the middle of the English Channel with the waves of the sea, unable to see anything around me, not knowing where I was, felt frightening. When I read Sri Chinmoy’s line about the English Channel frightening the human body and puzzling the human mind, I did not quite comprehend what he meant, but now I really started to understand.”

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