It’s been a powerful past few weeks. The outcome of the U.S. presidential election stunned the world, with shock waves still rippling. The brightest, closest “super moon” since 1948 illuminated the night sky, wielding its lunar magic. And for me, a lifetime dream came true: I experienced swimming with wild dolphins.
Legend has it that Apollo, god of music, medicine and knowledge, appeared at Delphi – the ancient Greek religious sanctuary – in the form of a dolphin. I now understand why.
On the night of the recent super moon’s apex, my husband, Ken, and I arrived after dark at an unassuming little rental cottage I’d just “happened” to find on the Internet. By the intense light of the unusually huge nocturnal orb, we headed down to the nearby beach and stumbled upon what we later learned is one of the most significant heiau (“hey-ow” – ancient temples or sacred sites) on the Big Island.. We wandered, entranced, through the adjacent lava rock fields, then sat at water’s edge for quite a while. Infused by the power of the moon and lulled by the gentle rhythm of the waves, we intoned prayers of peace and gratitude, I felt… like I’d come Home.
A mostly sleepless night followed as I watched and felt the moon traverse its path across the sky before it finally sank into the ocean a good several hours after night had morphed into day.
As the morning light revealed our surroundings, we saw that we were overlooking a lovely little bay, and within that bay we began to see…Wait! Were those dolphin fins?!!
We set speed records donning our bathing suits and snorkel gear, and within moments were submerged in the tranquil waters.
I could feel my heart beating with excitement, and consciously willed myself to calm and slow my breathing, which was quite audible through my snorkel tube. I began to intone an invitation (okay, a plea!) for any willing dolphins to come join me.
Within a moment or two, I began to hear their unmistakable, high-pitched staccato call. I was giddy. And then I saw them – first half a dozen or so, swimming together toward me. And then another eight to ten of them. Two mamas and their babies. Several flipping over as they swam to playfully bump bellies with their buddies. More than three dozen in all came to welcome me.
Within a few moments of being in their presence, I felt myself shift from rapid-breathing excitement and swirling thoughts (“Where’s Ken? I hope he’s nearby and seeing this! I hope he gets some good photos. We’re so fortunate no one else is here…”) to effortlessly releasing all thoughts – completely letting go.
It was as if, within moments, all the personal and global stress I’d been carrying of late was somehow transformed. Poof! Gone! I was elated and utterly peaceful. I literally felt my heart chakra burst open, and I began to laugh and cry simultaneously. For the next ten to fifteen minutes or so, I was totally immersed in what I later described to family members as a “cosmic bliss meltdown.”
While I laughed and cried with pure abandon (which gets a little messy in a snorkel mask!), they kept swimming alongside me, slowing down so I could keep up with them, then swimming ahead. They’d circle back and make eye contact as they swam toward and past me again, before looping back around, multiple times. The compassion and sense of connection they conveyed, individually and collectively, was astounding.
What words can describe the transcendent love I felt for and from them?
I have rarely felt so humbled and heart-burstingly grateful. The birth of my children comes to mind. A few other peak spiritual experiences in my past have had this level of transcendence. This one, however, was certainly one of the highest peaks.
Apollo was wise, indeed, adopting the dolphin form to represent his powers of Music, Medicine and Knowledge. In the hour or so we shared that morning, these beautiful cetaceous creatures were, and remain, some of my most powerful teachers.
As a sound healer, I thrill to the memory of their musical language; I take solace in the exquisite healing power of the unconditional love that is the essence of their being; I am in awe of the wisdom so apparent in their joyful presence.
Now, when I feel myself getting too sucked into the drama of this human life, when I buy into the angst and suffering of the maya, the illusion, we co-create, I now have an aquatic touchstone to help me remember.
I remember with visceral detail my visit to my Dolphin Delphi. I re-experience the playful, peaceful essence of their being. I remember that is my true essence, as well. I release fear. I choose Love. I come back Home.
And for this, and so much more, I AM grateful.
Namaste. (Please read notes and see final photo below!)
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NOTE: My delightful husband was indeed nearby and managed to capture these amazing images. (Way to go, Sweetie!)
ONE MORE IMPORTANT NOTE: We are so blessed to have had this precious alone time with the dolphins – quite a birthday gift! On two other mornings, however, when the dolphins again graced us with their presence in our little bay, up to several dozen other snorkelers and kayakers were also in the water. Some were respectful and a joy to share the experience with. Others were not. Some were so focused on trying to engage the dolphins or to get a good picture (including by thrusting cameras extended on long poles towards them as they swam by) that the sacred experience of our previous encounter was sadly lacking.
It’s exciting to be in the dolphins’ presence, and it can be tempting to want to control the experience by chasing, rather than inviting them. I had to remind myself sternly of this at the time. But it’s that kind of aggressive, disruptive behavior – including non-native guides bringing in boatloads of folks promising “dolphin encounters” – that has caused Hawaiian officials to recently introduce bills that would prohibit swimming with dolphins in the wild, in order to protect them from such behavior.
I find this heartbreaking. Native Hawaiians have lived in harmony with the dolphins for centuries. This is a sad example of how quickly human ignorance and greed can change things for all beings. So please, if you are fortunate enough to be in the water with wild dolphins, invite them, don’t chase them. And please, please, choose not to support organizations who are profiting from dolphins in captivity.
These beautiful creatures have so much to teach us. I pray we may preserve the privilege of connecting with these wise, playful beings in their natural habitats for many generations to come. I want my children and grandchildren to be able to have the kind of life-changing experience I was recently blessed with. I don’t want them to be legally obliged to get out of the water if dolphins are near, due to the prior ignorance of a relative few.
We are all in this together. Let’s choose wisely. Let’s choose Love.