Friday, February 18, 2011

Etiquette For Swimming With Wild Dolphins

If you ever have the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, jump at it!  It will be one of the most fulfilling experiences you’ll ever have.  It will change your life.  You’ll make friends you’ll be bonded to for life.  That’s just the start of the magic that occurs when you swim with wild dolphins.
Treat a dolphin the way you would treat a friendly stranger.

On one of my first swims I witnessed something incredible.  It taught me a valuable lesson I’ll never forget and want to share with you.

A teenage girl who had been living in foster care was on the same trip.  She was in hot pursuit of three dolphins who had been slightly separated from the rest of their pod.  She was a strong swimmer and aggressively cut across my path to reach them.

She reached out at one dolphin, grabbing his tail. The dolphin tried to avoid her grasp but the other two were in his way. With one thrust of his powerful tail the dolphin was gone. 

We had all been warned not to touch the dolphins under any circumstances before getting in the water.  Not only had I seen what happened, but our guide had too.  The teen was embarrassed.  Immediately our guide motioned her to surface and scolded her for breaking the rule.  She apologized admitting she had gotten too caught up in the moment—she forgot.  We all went back to swimming.

Suddenly three dolphins reappeared side by side in front of us. They were just out of reach.  The dolphin in the middle had his mouth open.  He started to shake, thrashing around under water. Little air bubbles shot everywhere.  I froze.  I was scared. The other two dolphins calmly flanked the shaking dolphin until it stopped. It all lasted about 30 seconds. When it was over they swam away.

Later, I asked the guide what the display was all about. She said dolphins don’t store emotional stress in their bodies. When the teenage girl touched the dolphin she transferred her negative emotional state to the dolphin. The dolphin absorbed the girl’s emotional energy.  The dolphin released the energy from its body in a harmless way.

It looked like the dolphin was angry at the girl for touching him.  But the guide said that it wasn’t anger toward the girl.  He was only expressing the anger she passed on to him—releasing it from his body.  The other two dolphins looked like body guards but for the reverse reason that humans use them.  They were making sure his anger didn’t get out of control and he injure her.

This is why it’s so important not to touch them.  They take on your emotional energy.  Plus, it’s only polite.  Dolphins are social beings.  You wouldn’t grope a stranger you encounter on the street (I would hope), neither should you grope a dolphin.

Very rarely is there physical contact made with dolphins in the wild.  If it does happen it should be by consent.  Silently ask if it’s okay and listen for your answer.  You might be apprehensive to make contact.  Dolphins sense that too and keep a polite distance from you when that’s the case.

Dolphin consciousness is being fully present to the truth in any moment.  When the anger energy was transferred to the dolphin he had to feel it and express it right away so he didn’t end up storing it in his body.  He had to do so without harming another and had assistance to make sure things didn’t get out of control.  

Let dolphins inspire you to be fully present to what you are feeling at any given moment.  When you are feeling strong emotions, take deep breaths.  It really helps.  It’s important to feel your feelings and express them without harm to the appropriate person(s).  

I often wonder how captive dolphins must feel when they are constantly touched by their trainers and others.  I feel very sad when I think about it.  The photo of this captive dolphin says a lot of what it must be feeling.  I can't say I've ever seen a depressed dolphin.  This poor darling is definitely not thriving.  I don't advocate supporting captive dolphins for this very reason.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dolphin Love

My first up close and personal encounter with a dolphin in the wild took me by surprise. I was in Hawaii with a group of 7 people on small boat. We had set out to find a pod of dolphins to swim with. I had never been swimming with wild dolphins and had a case of nerves mixed with excitement. I didn’t know what to expect jumping into water with wild dolphins. I am a scuba diver and was no stranger to the open ocean but my nerves wouldn’t let me relax.

It was an idyllic morning. The sun danced on the water as the boat sped along the gorgeous Kona coastline. A call came in over the radio. There was a sighting of Pacific Bottlenose dolphins by another boat captain who was kind enough to radio us to let us know. We were looking for Spinner dolphins to swim with, but our guide decided to momentarily alter plans and check out the Bottlenose sighting. (I found out later that our guide's intuition told her there was someone on the boat who needed to meet the Bottlenose.) Shortly afterward we found the small pod. The Bottlenose dolphins began to playfully swim around our boat as it kept motoring along. Immediately the mood on the boat changed from subdued to laughter and jubilation. The dolphins were interested in us as well, it seemed. It was so joyful to see them all around us. Two people were up on the bow looking over the edge. One of them stepped down and asked me if I wanted to have a look. I gladly accepted, not knowing what I was about to see.

Peering over the edge I came face to face with a mama dolphin and her baby swimming on their sides. The mama was on the right and the baby on the left side of the bow, keeping perfect pace with the speed of the boat. I gazed into the mama dolphin’s beautiful eye and she gazed back. We were connected in that moment and we both knew it. I felt so much love and so much joy. I was so overcome with emotion tears flowed freely down my cheeks. My heart felt like it was bursting wide open with love. I had never felt anything like it. Their beautiful muscular bodies glistened in the sunlight as they swam. They were dark gray on the top and almost white underneath. The white on their undersides were glowing a bright pink. They were having a workout!

I’m not a mother, but I can imagine that raising a little one would be a very difficult thing to do. I'm guessing that I would be constantly worried about the welfare of my child and maybe I would tend to be over protective, but only out of love. This dolphin was teaching me what it is to be a mother. She was showing me how much she loved her baby. I understood that even though she loved her baby she knew that her baby needed to be free--and loved. Her baby needed to explore, experience and enjoy the environment it found itself in--including experiences that could be potentially dangerous. The mama dolphin was loving her baby so much that she let it swim close to a boat full of humans to feel the exhilaration of that experience. Her baby was loved, supported and encouraged by her. I understood in that moment that to love unconditionally is to love fully--without attachment, expectation or over-protection. She taught me that unconditional love is liberating and accepting not confining. She showed me that love is action more than it is feeling.

We went on from there to find many Spinner dolphins we actually got in the water with. I had more profound experiences with them. It was glorious. I had no idea though, that I would learn a most precious lesson from a dolphin while on a boat. I was so grateful to our guide for listening to her intuition that morning. Clearly I was the one who needed to meet the Bottlenose. I set foot on a boat one beautiful July morning as one person and stepped off several hours later, as another. It was only the beginning of what I was to learn about love from dolphins...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's Happening to Me?

A good friend of mine shared recently that he was going through a period of deep soul-searching that left him feeling disoriented and out of steam. He asked me to share any insights I might have because he knows that I’m pretty much always soul-searching. I thought that maybe record solar flares lately could be influencing how he felt.

Solar flares are just one (I can’t believe I’m using the word just in the same sentence as solar flare, but there it is) of many celestial bodies influencing us at any given time. Their influence is affecting us in ways that we might not realize. There are many astronomical events that affect us on very deep and superficial levels. We feel it through our bodies, which act like antennae in the world, picking up energetic signals.

Maybe you’re feeling tired, or cranky. Maybe you’re juiced up and raring to go. If you can relate more to the former than the latter these days you’re not alone. If we had any idea of how much energy is passing through our bodies we’d be amazed by what we did accomplish in a day.

So what does this mean to you? It means that if you’re not feeling quite like yourself these days it’s okay. Many of us are feeling that way. It’s important at times like this to allow yourself to have your experience as yucky as it may feel. There’s a saying that goes “the only way out is through.” It’s important to go with the flow—now more than ever.

Nature is always moving forward, always in flow, it never stops. The forward motion inevitably brings change. The unusual thing about what’s happening now is that the motion seems to be fast forward. Things are happening quickly. Changes are happening quickly—maybe one thing after the other; maybe changes are happening all at once. This can certainly feel overwhelming.

The bad news is the old ways of being don’t seem to be working for us anymore. The good news is the old ways of being don’t seem to be working for us anymore. Change usually involves a period of adjustment that can feel uncomfortable. Once you get used to it though, it often feels better than it did before. This can be a time of great transformation if you allow it to be.

These changes are bringing with them the opportunity to grow into more of who you really are, while shedding parts of who you were that no longer serve you. The unnecessary and inauthentic parts are withering away and dying. It sounds graphic I know, but it's a good thing. Think of a snake crawling out of its old skin. Even the skin of its eyes comes off. It has got to be uncomfortable while it's happening and requires a good deal of struggle, but in the end the snake feels renewed, refreshed and actually has a brand new skin! It means a new lease on life and the ability to see life through new eyes.During this time we've got to keep our eyes on the prize—that new skin, not on what's happening that’s unpleasant. In other words, we've got to keep our eyes on the new life that is coming for all of us. The Earth is changing, we’re changing; everything is changing. Now more than ever the possibility for magic and miracles is upon us. This is what we're here for. Even though it may not seem like it right now, hang on anyway, the best is yet to come!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Heaven on Earth

This morning I went to Heaven. The sun danced on the waves, pleasantly blinding me with sparkles and shimmers. The beach was flat—the ocean was flat—and the surf was a surfer’s paradise. There was a barely perceptible mist that softened the light. The water was a greenish turquoise hue, punctuated by white frothy spray as the gorgeous waves tumbled in, row by row.

I’m sure more than one of the lucky surfers out there had called in sick this morning. Clearly they’d rather be in Heaven too. What a lovely place, Heaven. A pod of dolphins surfaced along the coast just yards in front of me playing and jumping in the surf. Babies leapt into the air with glee. My heart leapt with them. They contentedly swam slowly South, at a pace I could easily follow as I walked. Their bodies glistened in the sunlight, slick and perfect. I watched a paddle boarder make his way closer to them. "I’d love to be that paddle boarder right now…"

I was so happy. Yes, everyone, everything was happy to be in Heaven this morning. The gulls were happy, the people were happy. The speed-walking elderly man was very happy. We’re free, I thought. All of us. Free to enjoy the beauty that Heaven so generously gives us everyday. I’ve been to Heaven many, many times before thinking it was indeed a lovely place, but not necessarily knowing where I was. Today I recognized it for what it is. I’m so grateful it’s only two miles from my home. Where’s your Heaven?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Cove - Powerless to Powerful

I struggle with how to write this today. The topic isn’t light—in fact it represents some of the worst aspects of humanity imaginable. But it needs to be told. I asked my angels to help me see the silver lining in the subject and what they showed me completely floored me. But I’m a little ahead of myself…

I went to see a movie called The Cove on the weekend. I warn you, this movie is not for the faint of heart. It’s about the senseless slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins every year in Taiji, Japan. Actually, it’s about much more than that. With the insightful perspective the angels showed me I was able to see the silver lining right away.

The film portrays in graphic detail the barbaric (I’m going to call it) murder of helpless dolphins, deviously hidden from view in a small cove. The film is also about the brilliant plan by an American team, courageously and expertly executed to set up hidden cameras and microphones in the water, in the rocks and in the trees all around the cove so that the horrors that go on there can be documented for the world to see; in other words to bring the atrocity from darkness and secrecy to the light of truth.

I was overcome with anger and grief about how anyone could be so cruel and merciless to such beautiful creatures. This brings me to the silver lining the angels showed me. They asked me how it was different from the genocide that occurs today in certain parts of the world. How is it different from the Holocaust? How is it different from terrorism? How is it different from gang violence? How is it different from the long history of barbarism on this planet? I got the point. To be angry with the Japanese fishermen performing this slaughter while forgetting about the plight of humans in this day and age is almost hypocritical.

Then the angels told me something else. They said the consciousness that created the problem in the first place is not the consciousness that will heal it. Then I was shown an image of Mother Teresa. When she was asked to join a war against hunger, she declined, her reason being that a war against something is still a war. Mother Teresa said that if the same people were to start a movement for something, she would be happy to join them. Next I was shown the atrocities of the Holocaust and how they were mostly committed in secret, out-of-the-way places. Had the majority of the world known about the Holocaust while it was happening would it have stopped sooner? If the world finds out about what happens in Taiji, Japan, will it stop? Will we make it stop? Will we stop the genocide that still occurs today?

Personally, I feel overwhelmed by the thought of all of this. How can I possibly do anything to help this situation? I’m not much of an activist. I don’t feel that going out and getting arrested is helping stop anything, although I have the greatest of respect for those brave souls who do. There has to be another way. That’s when what the angels told me floored me. They said, love them. Send them love. Send all of those hiding in dark places committing unthinkable acts, love. It’s the equivalent to shining a bright light on them. It’s only while they’re in the light of love that they can see the horrors they commit. When they can see it, they can choose to stop. Then I heard the angels say “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” I’m not religious, but I do know that’s what Jesus said when he was being nailed to a cross.

The angels then told me that what I can do is to help bring awareness. They told me that I can envision a world of peace where all beings coexist peaceably; a world of safety; prosperity for all with clean air, clean water, fresh healthy food and plenty of love. They showed me a world where there was more than enough for everyone; where we only took what we needed of our resources and no more. They showed me a beautiful world, our beautiful blue planet, sparkling like the gem it is in our galaxy. The angels told me the way to achieve that vision is to see it as reality now. I know it sounds far fetched. But maybe if enough of us were to try this little experiment we could actually achieve it. I’d like to close with a quote that my coach recently re-introduced me to:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic in it. Begin it now! - Goethe