Knowing Breath by its Absence: Umberto Pelizzari

umberto pelizzari diver fetal

Holder of various free dive records, including an 8 minute Static Dive… (that’s holding his breath for 8 minutes…  eight…) Umberto Pelizzari is an impressive athlete who speaks of the sea and his soul.  It is a particular challenge to push yourself in such solitude, inside the sea… In Mr. Pelizzari’s words:

“From the depth of 100 meters and more, headlong in the abyss, the heartbeat gets slower, the body disappears, and all the feelings take a new form. The only thing that remains in us is the soul. We take a long jump into the soul, which seems to absorb the universe. Every time I ascend, I am making a choice: it is me who is re-discovering myself in my human dimensions, meter by meter, to come up to see the light again. It often happens that I am asked what is there to see deep down in the sea? Maybe the only possible answer is that one does not descend this way to look around, but to look into Himself. In the deep I look for myself. This is a mystical experience bordering on the divine. So deep down, I am immensely alone but inside it feels as if all humanity is with me. It is by being human that I surpass the limits we set for ourselves and diving makes us one with the sea and its surroundings. It is here that I become one with the sea and discover my true self.”

Read much more on his home website:

So he was a nice choice for the European Environmental Agency’s thoughtful advert to raise awareness of pollution …

Umberto Pelizzari under water

Here is the video:

To go 8 minutes without breath is amazing (terrifying) and rare.  We can’t help but have an emotional reaction to that information as we try to visualize doing it ourselves.  Everyone has a relationship to breath… robust and strong… labored and insufficient… taken utterly for granted… contemplative, smooth and subtle.  We can go weeks without food.  Days without water.  But (much!) less than 8 minutes without a breath.

Umberto Pelizzari Diver dolphin

umberto Pelizzari Diver mask