Tag: Eco-Spirituality

Soul Cycling

Soul Cycling

IMG_5022At 5.15am it was still dark outside but it was also cooler with lower humidity than we’ve had lately so the little LED light on the handlebar would have to do. My tactical, super-charged headlamp I usually wear on my helmet was missing in action.

It’s not that I was afraid of the dark. I just didn’t want to run over any snakes that might be warming their beautiful, slithery bodies on the paved trail.

I hadn’t been pedaling for more than a few minutes when a large shape swooped over my head…then another. Large birds but not owls. Perhaps a pair of nighthawks but there was no eerie vocalization. Just two large shapes disturbed by my passing. Sorry to wake you.

IMG_5029During the past couple of weeks after returning from the dolphin adventure I had not cycled. First, a nasty blister on my foot from a fin rubbing…even while wearing my super-cool scuba socks…kept me out of shoes. So no cleats. Then it was hot and so humid in the mornings I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But I missed the woods, the trails…the wildlife.

IMG_5031Terry Tempest Williams said, “My spiritual life is found in the heart of the wild.” In The Hour of Land she writes of her personal journey with some of our national parks. Her writing resonates with my own journey in nature and especially the state park in which I ride.

During summer breaks from high school and college I worked at Gulf State Park. After earning a degree in Outdoor Recreation and Resource Management, I returned to work there as a state park naturalist.

IMG_5039The 6000 acres of nature are especially important in our area as they contain some of the last undeveloped coastal forests and beaches in the area. But politicians continue to chip away at what’s left of its wildness.

When I cycle there my soul is given opportunity to relax and connect with friends there…bobcats, pine trees, water snakes, alligators, live oak trees, gopher tortoises, egrets, eagles, hawks, osprey, cottontail rabbits, wild hibiscus, morning glories….a seemingly endless gathering of friends.

IMG_5037As I was riding through a pine forest there this morning I thought about how the trees take root, deep into the sandy soil and remain there throughout their lives. I found myself uncomfortable with the idea of being that grounded, that rooted into one place. But then I had an image of the trees being connected to each other and communicating with other pine trees all over the planet.

Not long ago I read an article about how trees not only communicate but send extra nutrients to those in their area that are not well. This was a scientific study, not a new age article. Trees cooperate with each other and send information back and forth, at least in their own forest. I got the impression this morning they ‘chat’ more long distance than we can imagine.

IMG_5025Each time I ride there some aspect of nature teaches me, gives me ideas to ponder. The physical exercise is great; however, it’s the spiritual expansion that keeps me returning even with summer weather that brings humidity, warmer temperatures and potential thunderstorms. Soul cycling is a necessary part of my spiritual practice. I find my truest self in the wilds of this amazing planet.

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Another World

Another World

_TSL5589When I attempt to write about the experience of being surrounded by thirty-three dolphins, it feels as if it’s contained in a bubble of reality outside mainstream reality. It’s the same way when I visit humpback whales in their realm. A big part of me enters into a world, a dreamtime, of magic and wonder that feels more real than the materialistic shadow world in which most people live.

_TSL1759Each time I return from a journey like this it’s more difficult to force myself to fit back into a reality I want little part of….mainstream news, reality shows, materialistic focus, greed, ego, selfishness, more-more-more mentality. Perhaps the reason it’s difficult is that I simply don’t want to return to that world.

_TSL5812Yet I function in the ‘Matrix’ and hopefully bring some of the reality of joy and Oneness into it, rather than completely cut myself off from it. It’s challenging.

_TSL1861It is my sincere intention to unleash the wild, nearly unimaginable beauty of Oneness into this heavy, dark time in which we find ourselves. Profound beauty is available, not just in dolphin pods or humpback whale gatherings, in everyday reality; however, something has to inspire us to change and move toward a lighter reality.

_TSL5674We can move beyond consumer mentality as we begin to realize the hell it is.When we dare taste the sweetness that is possible when our focus changes from more-more-more to Oneness, a new Earth can be birthed.

 

 

Blissed Out

Blissed Out

_TSL5687I felt a nudge against my arm as I slowly swam with a group of spotted dolphins. I glanced to my right to see which one of my buddies was getting my attention. It was a buddy alright but not a human friend. It was large, female spotted dolphin buddy.

_TSL5674I was in a large group of dolphins and was already quite over-the-top in feeling joy and was laughing profusely as thirty-three spotted dolphins surrounded us. I was right in the middle of the pod and was photographing, laughing and in such a state of bliss I wasn’t sure it was even real.

_TSL5656The nudge on my arm reminded me…IT IS REAL!

There’s no way I can write about this day’s amazing experiences in a short blog entry so I will take copious notes in preparation for it becoming a chapter in my new book, Cosmic Whale: Mystical Stories from the Sea.

_TSL5591As I processed images from the day the laughter returned and so did tears of joy that opened me to realms I only dreamed existed. I have such profound gratitude for everything and everyone who helps me on my path. These special beings have given me a gift that will continue to expand in my heart and mind long after I have left Bimini.

_TSL5653At one point only three of us floated among the pod of mothers, calves, adolescents and other females. Susan, Sarah and I were accepted as part of the gathering of females and their calves and teens. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We were trusted with precious babies as the females slowly swam around us and circled us in a most amazing dance of connection, of Oneness.

_TSL5865Blessings to these amazing sisters and brothers. May they be protected, happy and have bountiful lives.

Mandala of the Heart

Mandala of the Heart

We were heading out to visit the dolphins and I found a quiet place at the front of the boat. I went within myself and opened my mind to dolphins.

After a while I began getting a visual image of two pink hearts that were intertwined. Then the two hearts expanded into an entire mandala of pink hearts. It was beautiful and it felt as if the dolphins gave me this image. I felt my heart open as I concentrated on it.

After the meditation ended I rejoined the group and we continued on and on….no dolphins for a very long time. And when we found them, they were in very murky, green water.

After easing into the water I noticed my mask was leaking profusely…to the point where it was filling completely with water even though I cleared it. I couldn’t see my camera readouts so I exited the water.

The camera went to a safe place, the mask got fixed and I entered the water again with the only intention of opening to an encounter with dolphins…nothing more. No photographs, no swimming hard to keep up. I simply invited the dolphins to join me and asked if I could join them and kept the image of the pink heart mandala in my mind.

I swam away from the main group of humans and found myself suddenly surrounded by mother spotted dolphins and their babies. One mom and calf…another mom and calf…another mom and calf. I had three mothers and their babies surrounding me, more beneath me and when I glanced back still more were coming. There was a minimum of 16 spotted dolphins surrounding me and possibly as many as 20.

As I gently swam side-by-side with the dolphins I was overcome with emotion….I could scarcely believe I was welcomed into the pod of dolphins who glided beside me as if I was one them. I wept profusely as I gently swam within arm’s reach of the largest female and her calf. And all the while the mandala of pink hearts remained in my mind.

I became one of the pod today as I surrendered to the gentle flow of love permeating everything around me….and within me. I felt welcomed back into my family, a lineage of wisdom that is indescribable.

It was as if I was welcomed home. Not in a geographical sense but rather a home within my heart and mind.

Lately I have had the feeling of coming full circle in my life, as if I’ve completed a very long and arduous journey to reach a place of completion that will give rise to a new beginning. Many years ago dolphins called me into this life and now they have helped me find a new beginning point.

Call me crazy, it doesn’t matter. I am home within myself and all is well. Oh, yes……all is well.

Later I got out my camera and captured one photo from the day...and it was enough.
Later I got out my camera and captured one photo from the day…and it was enough.

 

Lessons from a Sting Ray

Lessons from a Sting Ray

_TSL5291Taking underwater photographs in bad viz is not something I’d normally attempt. Murky water and strobes yield backscatter. But when there’s opportunity to play with stingrays….

_TSL5301The challenge brought by unclear water is to make the subject appear clear when everything around it is filled with particles of sand and grass and anything else stirred into the soupy mix. In the creative process of underwater photography, you have to be willing to use your skills or learn new ones to achieve the desired results.

_TSL5322Life is like that. We want it to be obstacle-free. And yet, it’s the obstacles that hone our skills and help us develop into well-balanced individuals. If it was easy we’d never feel our strength. A diamond doesn’t become a precious gem without immense pressure. It’s the pressure that turns a lump of carbon into a valuable stone.

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