Category: Eco-Spirituality

Meditating with Whales–Humpback Adventure Part II

Meditating with Whales–Humpback Adventure Part II

Each of us gets lost in our own inner process as we prepare to enter the water.
Each of us gets lost in our own inner process as we prepare to enter the water.

Monday--I walked up from my cabin below deck to the dive deck and then climbed the set of stairs to the sundeck at 5am. The nearly-full moon surprised me and stars overhead sparkled their good light on me as I stepped onto my mat to begin my yoga practice. It felt as if my entire being opened to the moon and stars and sea. So open and at-one was I that there was no noticeable difference between ‘me’ and the elements.

_TSL1694After breakfast and loading our tender (small boat), our group of ten and crew of three left the mother ship. After a short distance we did a practice entry and direction-following session for when we would actually see a whale and have an in-water experience. We got back on board our small boat and immediately the tour operator said, “Okay, get ready. There’s a mother and baby in the area. She hasn’t really settled but you might get lucky and get a fly-by.” In what reality does this happen? Usually it takes hours of riding the bumpy waves to get such an opportunity.

_TSL1689I left my camera on the boat and must say…’oh, well’ because on the last of many fly-bys, the mother and baby came within 10 to 15 feet of our group. Mom was surfacing slowly and baby was riding on mom’s head. The youngster’s eyes were closed in pure and perfect whale bliss. The absolute bliss filled me with profound and uncontainable joy. Had I been holding my heavy camera in front of my face concentrating on framing a shot, I would have missed the moment. Sometimes it’s really okay to miss a photograph. Truly okay. I now have the imprint, the pattern of what baby humpback bliss is and wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I close my eyes now, as I write this, I feel the perfection of peace and contentment and total trust.

Such sweetness I have never experienced before…ever.

Mother humpback fin slapping...part of educating and training her youngster.
Mother humpback fin slapping…part of educating and training her youngster.

As I sat on the flying bridge writing this after lunch, humpbacks on either side of our large boat are fin slapping. A gentle tap on my shoulder pointed it out…the engineer of the boat who rarely says anything wanted me to see the whales. Mama seemed to be encouraging a baby to fin slap…one way the mothers help babies build strength for their long migration back north to feeding waters.

Mother and sweet is the relationship between them.
Mother and baby…so sweet is the relationship between them.

There is nothing more sacred than a mother humpback’s love for her baby. It makes my heart so wide open I feel as if it contains the Universe. These beings are as aware and sentient as any human. They are loving and tactile and teach their babies with such care. Humans are only one species, in many, that are consciously aware and mindful.

For the past year I have been meditating envisioning a grandmother humpback. The potency of this journey, this trip to see them, is amplified by many months of preparation….to learn, to grow, to heal on a deeper level.

The willingness to expand into our own potential is magnified by the effort we put into it.

My camera wouldn't focus on the whales due to cloudy I focused on my fins and like the outcome of the shot.
My camera wouldn’t focus on the whales due to cloudy water…so I focused on my fins and like the outcome of the shot.

After lunch and the restful time on the top deck, it was time for whale searching once more in the tenders. It didn’t take long and we were in the water with two sleeping whales for about an hour. They surfaced twice to breathe but gently sank below us to ‘sleep’ after breathing. The male and female appeared to be sleeping but when I hovered over them and went into meditation, I sensed that whales don’t sleep as we know it but rather enter a dream-state, the dreamtime. Somehow their presence and their dreaming seems vital to the balance of the Ocean, the planet. Scientists would laugh at this, but I’m no scientist. What am I then? A sea priestess? Mermaid? One who listens on a deep level…no doubt.

Meditating with whales today may be the most profoundly moving experience I’ve ever had. It will most likely takes months to understand everything I learned during the experience. I managed to take photographs when I finished the more important task of connecting with them on a deeper level.

_TSL1636Meditating with whales….a continuation of last year’s trip and the many months of meditation at home. I felt a real connection, a real solidifying of the work we’ve been doing together in a formless realm. Today’s experience was a mind connection on a deeply spiritual level. It felt like a working relationship that was strengthened by physical proximity.

There is no doubt that I will continue dreaming with whales…here and when I return to that place I live. Home, however, is here with the humpbacks…where I feel most alive and in-tune with life.


Part I

Begin at the Beginning–Humpback Whale Journey Part I

Begin at the Beginning–Humpback Whale Journey Part I

Humpback mothers and babies, dreaming whale couples, a mama and baby and male, a singer, rowdy groups of humpbacks, meditating in the water with humpbacks, yoga under a full moon on deck….nice people, good food….a wrecked sailboat. So many stories to share, so many experiences to treasure. The best place to begin to share my journey with humpback whales is at the beginning.

_TSL1508Saturday, February 20th–After arriving early and having an afternoon and all day the next day to explore around the marina, I boarded our vessel. The 124 foot boat was designed as a live-aboard dive boat so its not roughing it but it’s not fancy either. So bare feet, shorts and tee shirts when not in wetsuits is the norm. The weather had been producing very high winds and I was dreading the 92 mile crossing to the offshore reef, the Silver Bank. Between the reef and the north shore of the Dominican Republic is open ocean and with 20 knot winds that’s no joke, even in a stable craft like the Turks & Caicos Explorer II.

_TSL1512Thankfully the captain and trip leader decided not to leave port and put us through a rough night of ten foot seas. At almost 10pm, our usual departure time, I felt only relief that we would wait until morning to leave the marina. Being a light sleeper doesn’t help when it’s rough enough to throw me off the bunk. Nobody complained about the decision to wait.

_TSL1503Sunday, February 21st–Last ties to land cast off and steadily we moved through choppy waters toward the Silver Bank. As we pulled out of the harbor early in the morning, the silver sunrise glistened on the white surf that was breaking onto a lush, green shore. The beauty of the mist-covered shoreline aglow with soft, quicksilver star fire wrapped me in a loving embrace.

Slowly moving through green water toward the indigo blue–that purple blue that calls to my depths–we made our way onward. Out, out to sea. To freedom. To humpback whales.

I sat perched on the flying bridge gazing into clouds and sea, surrounded by elements of water and wind. Occasionally beams of light would pierce the heavy clouds and illuminate distant water…golden fingers of heaven reaching down to connect with the sea. Such divinity in that moment. Sea touched by sky. Sacred touch. Sacred connection.

While all around is cloudy with a gray blue sea, the moment light touches the surface it glows indigo and silver and gold. Our hearts are like that…when we allow the light of our own being to shine through, it changes everything.

As we were traversing the crossing, I connected deeply with the Ocean and wrote the following:

_TSL1594Love Song for the Ocean

Gazing into your deep, blue depths I feel my heart open with wild abandon.

Beloved, your beauty fills my life with joy and light like no other.

Your Mysteries invite me deeper into my own depths until I find myself at the quiet stillness of perfect center.

Your salty tears move through my being and we weep together at needless loss and destruction.

Your varying shades of blues–turquoise, indigo, light blue, green-blue–fill my veins and my blood runs hot and salty in rhythm to you.

Your power fills me with courage as I journey through this life to love you more, to surrender more to your immense, all-enfolding, raw, elemental power.

I can scarcely contain my emotions and find this body challenged to hold the love as it courses through my being. Divine Madness.

You whisper, Don’t hold it in, child. Express your love for me daughter. Let yourself be free. Open to love….open…be free.

But what will they say, Dear Mother? When I dance in wild spirals screaming your name, singing your name, whispering your name. What will they say?

Will they shun me or lock me up or call me crazy? But in truth, I am crazy with Divine Madness for you, Ocean Mother.

I want to dive into your salty waters and never rinse the dried, healing minerals from my body.

In gazing at the horizon where your Body meets Sky, it appears to be a line of separation but no matter how far I journey, it is a never-ending relationship, a dance that continues and continues…forever….endless.

My Child, you whisper through the wind. My Child! you shout on the spray carried by the wind. My Child of love, never apologize for loving me and for opening your heart. Rejoice in your ability to feel! Rejoice!

Rejoice! Rejoice! In your own salty, juiciness.

_TSL2553We began seeing whales long before we reached our mooring. Breaching, tail lobbing, fin-slapping humpback whales. Their white-hot breath led us forward in our journey, our crossing from one reality to the magical realm of the Silver Bank.

_TSL1663I fell asleep knowing that humpback whales swam beneath the boat dreaming strange whale dreams. I surrendered to their call and joined them in the dreamtime.


Part II….In the water with whales….stay tuned.





Easing into Whale Time

Easing into Whale Time

_TSL1514After sleeping on and off over 11 hours and spending the morning relaxing, I am slowly slipping into that timeless dimension of whale. I’ve sat and read as the ocean breeze tussled my hair, walked around photographing points of interest at the marina and contemplated a few thoughts but mostly haven’t thought of much.

Slowing….slowing…slowing down.

How does one prepare to open to the magnificent humpback whale mind? In reality, there’s probably nothing that can be done except to enter into the sacred realm with gratitude and a spirit of willingness to learn whatever they have to teach.

In a few hours the journey to the whales begins….but truly it started long ago. This is simply the next step in the unfolding path which is my life and for which I am deeply grateful.

Let the adventure begin.




SimoneLipscomb copyWe find magnificent patterns in nature…sand ripples, turtle shells, leaf structure, rock formations…an endless list. There are the patterns of global wind and ocean currents, weather, movement of stars through the vast, velvet sky as well as river’s pathways and crystalline formations. Amazing, magnificent patterns abound and give us structure, things on which we can depend.

SimoneLipscomb (10)With one of the last iPhone updates, my phone automatically gives me estimated time of travel to various locations based on patterns in my life. It’s a little freaky that my phone can guess my travel based on regular moments. 29 minutes to Fairhope it tells me when I start the car at 7am. Or 25 minutes to home from cycling or walking Buddy in the state park. When it doesn’t predict my destination correctly I taunt it. Ha, you are wrong! That’s not where I’m headed. It’s a bit strange to be so predictable that my phone can usually guess where I’m headed.

SimoneLipscomb (1)Sometimes patterns are wonderful…yoga, cycling, walking the dog, meditation, nourishing meals. All healthy. But what about those other less-than-healthy patterns?

On my way to yoga this morning I was enjoying the beautiful back-country roads and contemplating stuff….you know stuff. I saw how behaviors and choices in our lives become habits or patterns. Chemical grooves are literally worn into our brains like the grooves on vinyl albums. Inner patterns can be beautiful or can be self-destructive.

SimoneLipscomb (9)The vision came of standing in the eye of a cyclone and experiencing the calm at the very center of life. Fears swirl around inviting me to grab hold and collapse into that old way of being. The familiar, the practiced behaviors can entice us so temptingly but the moment we step out of the calm center and grasp the old fear pattern, we are jerked into a chaotic cyclone. This is one example but the possibilities are truly as endless as the patterns we find in nature.

SimoneLipscomb (2)The beginning of true personal power comes with the realization that we have choice. So often we simply choose the familiar reactions, practice the same behaviors and we stay stuck in our lives. The moment we pause and listen before leaping into old, reactive behaviors of action and speech is the moment we begin to see there is no prison except the one we create for ourselves. As surely as we build our inner jail cell, we have the key to exit it at any moment and create a life without in-prisoning behaviors and actions.

SimoneLipscombWhile this certainly applies on a personal level, it also applies on a community level or global level. What are the choices we make each day that keeps us stuck or frees us? Imagine a planet where we collectively pause and reflect upon our actions…our reactions. The potential for peace and love grows with every one of us that pauses before reacting, before practicing old behaviors and patterns of speech and being.

SimoneLipscomb (3)I celebrate beautiful patterns in life….those that enhance beauty and peace, love and compassion….those that keep us in the sacred, calm center.





_TSL0997The clock proclaimed sunrise but heavy clouds hung close so dawn’s light was slow to brighten the day. Silently I slipped into the water, wrapped in my dry suit and holding my heavy, underwater camera equipment. With a slow and quiet frog kick I moved toward the narrow opening of the spring.

A manatee exiting the clear water paused in passing, watched me for a few moments and then moved forward in her glacial, flowing pace. Low light and particulate matter in the open water made a shot impossible but communion was exchanged and was sweet.

As I approached the spring, a manatee laid sleeping on the white, sandy bottom. I carefully avoided splashing and went around him and into the clear water of the freshwater spring.

_TSL1000Ten manatees of various sizes lay asleep on the bottom, huddled together in a common area. I glided away from them toward the back of the small spring and turned to face them from a distance. I took a few photographs as the light increased and then felt drawn into their meditation, into their group mind of stillness and dreaming warm, saltwater dreams.

_TSL1057In the quiet, peaceful water temple I closed my eyes and floated effortlessly with heart and mind open. The beauty of their being touched my core. No thoughts, just sensations enveloped me. Cool water on my face and neck; gravity-free except for the heavy camera rig in my hands; muscles relaxed; gentle floating….total surrender and release of all stress, tension…of everything except that moment of manatee mind.

_TSL1041One woman, ten sirens of the sea communing in perfect harmony caused time to disappear. We joined in that glorious, timeless dimension of stillness and quiet.

The moments of harmony with my sisters and brothers were some of the sweetest I have ever experienced.

_TSL1061After several minutes I opened my eyes and noticed my open heart and calm mind. I said a silent prayer of gratitude for the gift of this encounter then took several photographs, hoping to be able to translate, through art, the experience that so powerfully touched my core.

Slowly, quietly I moved around the side of the rock wall toward the exit. I turned before leaving to offer my thanks to the manatees and witnessed several slowly rise from their resting place on the bottom to the surface to take a deep, full breath. So in-tune in their sleep, their meditation they breathed in unison. Humans have much to learn from these gentle beings.


_TSL1092Throughout King’s Bay and Crystal River there are official sanctuaries or areas set aside where manatees can rest without human interference. Heavy fines and penalties are imposed on anyone entering these designated safe-zones. Today in the small, clear spring, I found my own place of peace, my own sanctuary.

Image of a juvenile taken yesterday in Three Sister's Springs
Image of a juvenile taken the day before in Three Sister’s Springs