Skydiving, Near Death Experience & Breathing: Life Lessons from My Story
Updated: Jul 10
My breathing story begins at 8 years old when for some unknown reason, I stopped breathing. From what those who were there told me, I had no heartbeat, no breath and blue lips for at least three minutes.
Luckily a family friend was present and was able to bring me back with CPR.
This 3-minute experience left an impression on me for a lifetime.
The only vocabulary I had at the time to describe the experience was that it was “peaceful” and coming back was violent and confusing.
Later in life, I realised that I was subconsciously trying to make it back there. Leading a life with no fear of death, I had it in my head that I’d only live to 32.
From backcountry skiing and climbing to skydiving and BASE jumping, I was having fun with my life but without a full appreciation for how precious it is and I definitely wasn’t looking after my body.
At age 30 I broke my back in a paragliding accident. As part of the recovery process, my physio recommended yoga. It helped my body tremendously and my back was now more pain free than before the accident.
What I didn’t expect was the impact yoga would have on my mind.
I grew drawn towards meditation and at that fateful age of 32, I would have a meditative experience, that was as close to the peace I’d experienced in death, 24 years earlier.
I understood what the yogis meant by “Pure Consciousness” and its state of bliss. When I died, I was still conscious, I was in a place where time didn't exit. It was like I'd just arrived and had always been there at the same time. I had no mind to to wonder where I was, I just was! That to me is Pure Consciousness. And now, finally, I was able to access this the same peaceful state in life.
My life started to change for the better. Although I still partied and jumped out of planes for a living, I did things more consciously. I’d quit alcohol and had a new appreciation for my own body and life. I'd had the realisation that death would always come eventually and that this life was here to be lived. It's a precious gift with meaning, purpose and worth more than the cheap thrills I was risking it for.
I took a new approach to my skydiving career. I started to ask for the people who were the most scared or nervous about jumping from a plane. I introduced mindfulness exercises I’d learnt so far and of course, the most successful and effective were breath focused. I developed a slight obsession with breathing and wanted to figure out a way to exit full-time skydiving and start teaching what I’d learnt more in depth.
“How do I make this transition, take the courses and trainings I want to take and still make a living?”
In late 2019 I had my answer. And this proves you really have to be careful what you ask for.
I broke both ankles in an accident at work, one badly. On my way to the hospital, I realised I now had the opportunity to dive deep into the world of breathing. I found the right teachers, read the right books and listened to the right podcasts. And recovering mentality and physically, was the perfect way to put this new knowledge into practice.
Even though my right ankle will never be the same, it’s a constant reminder that every cloud has a silver lining. Don't get me wrong, there are still challenges, both mentally and physically. With the right mindset and framing, it's these challenges that make me stronger and more resilient.
I’m no yogi guru, and definitely no saint.
I am someone who has been fortunate enough to experience the world through a different perspective. Through Boundless Breathing I'll share my personal journey, insights, and practical tips for incorporating, breathing and mindfulness practices into your daily life. Whether you're struggling with stress, anxiety, or just looking to improve your overall well-being, I hope that my story will inspire you to take the first step towards a more mindful and fulfilling life.