The Freedom of Being: Tails of a Loving Dolphin Encounter by Christine Wushke
Ever since childhood I had dreamed of swimming with dolphins, so it was no wonder when I heard someone shout “there are dolphins in the bay!” I dropped everything and ran to the beach. This was my first up close glimpse of wild dolphins. I was on day one of my first Retreat on the magical big Island of Hawaii, and seeing wild dolphins was a life long dream finally fulfilled.
Without thinking (which turned out to be a good thing) I put on my snorkel gear and started to head out in their general direction with a friend. Having been previously advised by a few friends experienced in the area of swimming with wild dolphins, I was told to not approach the dolphins, but to swim out and “mind your own business”. Or just hang out in their general vicinity, and maybe, just maybe, they would come over and check you out.
I was normally pretty terrified of swimming in the ocean, and phobic of sharks, but on this day I felt completely safe, as if the aura of the dolphins were saying “it’s OK we will protect you”. At some point when I was swimming out I could hear the chirps and whistles under the water, and the feeling of safety and calm strengthened. I looked up and could see the fins off in the distance, and decided I was close enough. Not wanting to disturb their personal space, I just floated where I was, waiting. My friend had asked me to stay close by, as he wasn’t a very strong swimmer, so I was keeping my eye on him. At some point we decided to float and meditate, in hopes that the dolphins would get curious and come over to see what we were doing. I started to enter a meditative state, and let my inner heart open, as if sending a message to the dolphins that I was happy to see them, and could almost immediately feel a deep love and joy come back to me.
About ten minutes passed, and I was starting to feel cold, I thought to myself, ‘maybe I will just swim back, I got to hear them, and feel their love, that is enough for me.’ I was secretly wishing for a really close encounter though, hoping to get to see one up close.
When I looked up, getting ready to swim back, I realized my friend had drifted off somewhere, and I could no longer see him. I had a moment of sudden worry that he was in trouble, and I started to look all around to find him, I had the thought ‘how will I ever find him in this huge ocean?’ Almost as soon as the feeling of distress entered my mind, I heard a loud dolphin whistle; I looked down into the water and saw a dolphin right below me. Immediately my heart opened, and I felt a joy rush through my body like I had never experienced before. As it came up to the surface for a breath the dolphin moved right alongside me, and looked me in the eye. For a moment the entire world stopped, everything became still and calm. It was as if he was telling me, ‘it’s OK, it will be all right, I am here’. Instinctively I followed the dolphin, it was moving very slowly, and I was surprised how I could keep up with it.
After a while of following the dolphin I could hear more chirps and whistles off in the distance, before I knew it the dolphin I was following was joining up with an entire pod. I stopped swimming for a while and just floated in one spot watching them all circle under me. After a few minutes I looked up, and was happy to see my friends head bobbing in the distance. Swimming over to him I noticed that he had made a few friends, and was alright. I was so relived that I hadn’t lost him to the vast expanse of the ocean, that I didn’t even realized that the dolphin had lead me right to him. I had a moment of second guessing the experience, wondering if it was a happy coincidence or if that dolphin had really come to me because of my distress.
After some more time in the water and the wonderful experience of feeling this dolphin joy, I decided that I had had enough, and wanted to head back to shore. My friend reassured me that he was OK now, and so I headed back on my own. After a few moments of swimming back I looked up to the shore and realized just how far out I had gotten. Again a moment of panic entered my inner space, and I thought, ‘how am I ever going to make it back there?’ Again, as if on cue, I heard that now familiar sound of a dolphin whistle in my ears. As I looked down into the water just ahead of me, I saw the single dolphin that had lead me to the pod earlier that day. I felt such deep gratitude and joy to see him, and felt my heart open wide. He was swimming towards me face to face, and as he came close to me I saw his mouth open as he said something to me. This time, instead of hearing the sound with my ears, I felt the sound vibration resonate through my whole body. Almost instantly I had a sense of renewed strength and stamina, and I felt like I could more easily make it back to shore. About thirty seconds later I realized that he had actually turned around and was now swimming right below me. It was as if I had my own personal escort, as he stayed with me for several hundred meters. Once I felt really comfortable with my distance to shore, I silently thanked him, and gave him an inner hug. He turned again and headed back the other way. This was the first of many beautiful dolphin encounters that were yet to come, and many more were also shared by the friends who also got to know the local pod.
After some time passed I realized just how beautiful and touching the experience was for me, not only to fulfil a life long dream, but to experience first hand the simple and humble presence of such an amazing being. To see and feel the compassion and care of an entirely different species was very inspiring for me. What I took back with me was the realization that this love and compassion is always enough, in every moment. The dolphins own nothing, they are whole and complete just in and of themselves, having no possessions, or sense of ownership, they simply exist in an inner freedom and peace, that very few humans can relate to. I was deeply touched and inspired by this experience to realize the inner freedom of having nothing but the presence that you are. It was as if the dolphins wanted to teach me that in truth there is really nothing to own, and no possessions to acquire. To own something you would need a container to hold it in, and what really matters, what is all encompassing, has no walls, no limits, and no end. The presence that we are can never really be held in one place as it is free flowing like a dolphin, and rests in vast open space like the ocean. In this space of free flowing openness there is an ease and a trust that makes it clear that this moment is enough, just as it is.
* After returning home from my retreat I wanted to make sure I found a way to give back what I was grateful for; 15% of the Hawaii retreat proceeds have been donated to the World Wildlife Federation, as well as the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
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Christine Wushke is a certified yoga and meditation teacher with over 15 years of experience. Her aim is to create a sacred space for students to effortlessly find the presence of stillness and an inner silence. Christine’s mission is to raise consciousness on the planet by empowering people to realize their own Divinity and to uncover a deep peace within. Christine is committed to assisting you in your journey, and helping you to realize directly for yourself the truth of what you are, and the stillness of truth within. In addition to her yoga and meditation training, Christine is also a registered massage therapist. In the past two years she has studied extensively in the spiritual tradition of Advaita Vedanta. Her teaching style is largely influenced by Iyengar yoga, and the nondual tradition of Advaita.
© Written by Christine Wushke, underwater dolphin Photo’s by Matisha songofhome.com, “dolphin sparkles” photo by Irene Kerr