Swim with Dolphins
Wilderness Tours, Spiritual Awakening, Emotional Healing

Playfully Pregnant

This is a chapter from my up and coming book that i want to share with you because it involves two pregnant ladies, their partners and a friend.

DOLPHIN BOYS

Bums bundle without elegance over the side of the rubber duck. We have pushed through the lapping waves to get the boat off the beach and en route to find the dolphins who frolic behind the bigger waves breaking further out to sea.

 

Settled on the soft, bloated flanks of the boat we capture shocked breaths of inhalation. We are still recovering from the initial coldness of the water we have just escaped from and we squash squealed breaths outwards with exhilarated excitement, we are on our way. The pregnant ladies were first on board heaving their protruding bellies onto the launch with their backs slipping over the side, Moses, the launch assistant, helps them over the sides of the rubber duck with his strong, brown grip, so that the new lives growing inside are not hurt in any way.

 

It takes skill to read the seas and race through the foamy space left by the last set of breaking waves. Mitch, our skipper, circles the Ponto Bay to find a gap between the bigger waves breaking off shore. They chuckle their frothing challenge and skip either side of the rubber duck, whose human cargo are feeling a little vulnerable. We face the rubber duck straight into the mounting hill of water ahead, she punches through and flops flat on her belly down into the trough on the other side. We are through the first wave. Everyone is still on board.

 

We wildly bounce through another three breakers riding the rubber duck like a bucking bronco and then Mitch says, ‘Ok you can take off your life jackets and pass them to the front.’ We settle down in the stiller waters beyond the breakers. ‘You can leave them on of course if you like’ Mitch volunteers as he looks at the bulging belly of Sandy sitting next to the sleeker, goddess-like figure of Mel. It is difficult to notice that Mel is even pregnant, the foetus growing inside her stretches upward in her length compared to the child growing in Sandy’s tummy that seems to summersault forward into a big bulge giving Sandy a squatter shape.

 

Mel looks distant, cut off. She was quiet last evening during our intial group meeting, while the rest of the group: her partner, Wolf, Sandy, Sandy’s husband, Mike, and their single friend, Shane, chatted exuberantly asking many questions. Shane said he did not want the dolphins to come too close. Wolf, who is quite spiritual, is looking forward to an intuitive connection with the dolphins. Mike pretends to be laid back and says, ‘whatever happens will be ok’. Only Mel is quiet. ‘You seem a little down’ I query? ‘Just tired’, Mel responds. I push a little, ‘You’re sure just tired’? She gives me a small smile realizing I know deeper things are stirring within and she can’t hide her state of mind completely. She admits, ‘You’re right I am a bit down, but not ready to talk about it yet’.

 

In the early morning before our first launch to find the dolphins, I watch the sunrise spread over the ocean expanse ahead of me. The sun’s warm fingertips stride towards the beach as if to wake up the sand. In response the sand begins to smile in lightening shades of beige-blonde. Most mornings, when I can, I love to greet the Creator of the sun and read about His presence on earth in human form in His Word. This morning I read about Jesus initially ignoring a worried mother with a sick daughter. She was trying to get His attention, begging: ‘Please make my daughter well again’. It isn’t that He does not care, but right then He has a different agenda: other people to listen to, many who are sick, some lame and some blind – physically and emotionally. The whole day He heals with His wise words and gentle touch. The mother does not give up and she spends the entire day not far from Jesus’s side. Like an anxious lioness she asks again and again for her daughter to be healed. Finally, at the end of the day Jesus turns to her, admiring her perseverance, and says, ‘Woman, because of your faith, your daughter is well’. She believes and celebrates. I start thinking, ‘I wish I had the same kind of faith and perseverance that mother had so that I can also ask Jesus to bring wellness into the lives of the people I care about.’ I raise Mel’s name skyward and pray for the new life in her belly.

 

All the life jackets are stored away and we start scanning the watery expanse for the ‘dollies’. We look to the horizon where the sea meets the sky and then in the opposite direction towards the waves that pound onto the shore. Nothing. The nose of the rubber duck moves forward and bobs up and down skimming the undulating watery landscape. Still nothing. I am starting to feel a little anxious and disappointed, we have been looking for twenty minutes already. I ask under my breath, ‘where are you?’Then I remember, they are wild and entitled to be busy with their own lives: fishing, resting, taking care of the ‘kids’, and then a little more humbly I talk to them again – in my mind, ‘We would like to come and join you in your world, is that ok. I know you have something to teach us?

 

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When you compare brain to body size, dolphins are only second to man. They have complex folds of neocortex the same as humans, elephants and primates. This is an indication of self-awareness, transient thinking and the ability to problem solve. I read in a book called ‘Dolphin Mysteries’, which is written by two women who have spent twenty years each observing dolphin behaviour – in captivity and in the wild. One of the authors, Toni Frohoff, sites an incident about a baby dolphin, no more than six months old, who mimicked a human smoking. The dolphin and its mother lived in Bay World, an oceanarium on the shores of Algoa Bay in South Africa. The researcher was sitting outside the dolphins’ glass doomed enclosure observing mother-calf interactions.

 

The calf left its mother and swam towards the researcher, watching him carefully. She then returned to the safety of her mother. This curious human-calf interchange happened three times, on the fourth occasion the calf swum back to its mother, suckled at her breast, returned to the glass where the human researcher was still smoking and released the milk from her mouth so that it trailed in a swirling spiral towards the surface of the pool. The calf, at only six months of age had watched this human smoke, and then taken something from her own environment to mimic his action. How intelligent is that? In fact dolphins exhibit more ‘silent areas’ in the neocortical area of their brain compared to humans. These are the areas where transient thinking and decision making can take place without needing the stimulation of any external influence.

 

Dolphins have an ability to scan their environment with their echolocation capabilities. They can read the human body like an x-ray and know when everything is functioning as it should or when there are ‘abnormalities’ or deviances from the norm. Through these sound vibrations they communicate in pictures. Research has shown that humans in the presence of dolphins experience euphoric states of acceptance and joie de vivre not only because these mammals exhibit wellbeing and healthy adaptation to their environment, but because of the level at which they communicate.

 

Dolphins communicate with sound waves between 100HZ and 150,000HZ as opposed to human communication which happens between 20 and 20,000HZ. Sound can have a dramatic impact on our senses – some sounds can be positive and uplifting, others draining. Dolphin communication can create a meditative Alpha state around our bodies. They can use their echolocation capabilities to change cancerous tumours or unblock arteries. Overall their close presence does not heal us, but on a physical level incites an electromagnetic response within our own internal energy levels so that personal immune systems are fine tuned into appropriate, healing processes. On an emotional level, it is because we are relating to a mammal so full of health, and feel chosen and special in their presence, that we are motivated into better self-care and the belief that we can be well again.

 

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Sorry the dollies have not put in an appearance yet’, Angie says. She is the researcher who has spent the last fifteen years observing these beautiful creatures that swim freely in the bay of Ponto D’Ouro. ‘Why don’t you put on your snorkels and flippers and take a swim, the reef below us is teeming with exotic fish.’ A little sad we start to adorn our diving equipment. ‘There they are!,’ Michael shouts. He is right sleek, grey bodies with recognizable pectoral fins are gliding periodically above the water as they move towards us. ‘Ok Sandy you and Mel get in first with Wolf and Michael’, Angie suggests. The rest of us wait a while and then we slip down the sides of the rubber duck into the water to join them.

 

Bo brings her new calf to show me the latest addition to her family. She is accompanied by her daughter, Joey who mischievously carries a half-eaten fish past my nose. Bo and I have had several swims together, she is recognizable by the three notches half way up her sickle-moon shaped pectoral fin. Her little calf must be barely three months old. I think I will call her Beauty. Beauty breaks away from her mother and swims squealing towards me, she somersaults below my belly and is enticing me to play, but I can’t keep up. I notice bubbles escape from my mask, I am laughing at her playfulness. Life feels warm and worthwhile. As Beauty swims back to Bo, Bo seems to send a ‘see you next time’ smile and undulates with Beauty in tow toward Mel. Bo is accompanied by another dolphin mother and her calf. Gently they travel alongside Mel. They move in unison. Mel is a good swimmer. Fifteen minutes later the whole pod moves off.

 

When a dolphin calf is first born the first action his or her mother teaches it is to breath. The whole pod breath in unison. Mel, helped by Moses flops over the side again, tears streaming down her salty cheeks. These are tears of happiness.

 

In our reflective group discussion that afternoon Mel is in tears again, truly crocodile tears, because they fall in wet lines across a broad, teethy smile. ‘Ok I am ready to explain why I was so anxious and sad yesterday’, Mel splutters through intermittent sobs. ‘Eighteen months ago I was pregnant for the first time’. It was obvious from the silence no-one knew this except Wolf. ‘At three-and-a-half months I miscarried’, she continues, ‘I did not know the emptiness and grief inside would be so devastating, it seemed so disproportionate to the tiny little body that was lost amidst all the blood. It felt like I had know this little being that died for a lot longer than three and a bit months’. She started sobbing this time, but it sounded like there was much relief in her crying.

 

Wolf interjected, ‘it was bad, Mel would not get out of bed for days, she just lay in this endless blackness’. Mel adds: ‘At the beginning of this trip I was amazed at how big Sandy’s tummy is, she has only been pregnant two months longer than me!’ ‘I am a different shape to you Mel, much shorter’, Sandy explains. ‘I know, but it is that three-and-a-half-month critical time period again and it looks like I am not even pregnant’, Mel whines. Moving things along, I reflect, ‘it seems like something special happened with the dolphins this morning?”

 

It was amazing’, Mel splurted, ‘as the two mothers and their calves swum on each side of me it felt like my whole body was being scanned. I was buzzing, but more than that, I felt this incredible peace, as if all is fine and the baby is growing well. I am so relieved and even excited, that I can be excited’, she shouts and starts bouncing around the room. Everyone laughs.

 

We spent five days swimming with the dolphins, chatting about our experiences, bathing in the sun, eating mounds of prawns and the men even tried wind-surfing.

 

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The aborigines do not have a name for life, they describe who they are at the time by what they call themselves. I tried this. My birth name is ‘Mandy’, which means ‘loveable or worthy to be loved’. I like that, but when I first learnt of this aborigine practise I chose the name ‘Wildtree’: ‘Wild’ because I had begun spending many engaging hours watching wild dog packs and, just divorced, I acted out a teenage rebelliousness that was long overdue. ‘Tree’ because I wanted to move through this transition period, where everything seemed to have changed, and re-establish roots. The name combined well the current conflicted rebel within, the ‘goodie goodie’ of the past, and promise for a more balanced future where I would once again provide a place of healing for those who sat under ‘my branches’. During our reflective group discussion times after dolphin swims I encouraged the others to chose a name they could identify with right now.

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Mel chose ‘River-that-Returns-to-the-Sea’. She had been a dried-out, disconnected water source after the loss of her little one, but was now returning to a place of vibrant, watery abundance. Sandy called herself ‘Whale Song’ and wrote:

 

It has been a beautiful few days arriving, connecting, unfolding – non-resistant flowing – into our new beginnings.

 

Thank you so much for your gentle, sensitive facilitation. It is such a blessing as different journeys meet – as paths collide, in this case at a particularly luxurious resting place.

 

Tartaruga has been a safe haven, as has the space we have shared as we pause to view the sun setting on the past and turn to look towards the sun rising on the, as yet, un-manifest.

 

And this ever present moment is starlit and calm like the underwater haven of dolphin life. The difficulties we face are not obstacles, they are rungs on the endless ladder of light that we climb, and it’s been awesome to do a little climbing together, sharing our loads and lighting each other’s paths. Thanks again for reminding us that we can facilitate this kind of processing collectively – we are all one at the end of the day.

 

And special thanks to the dolphins for their skilful and intuitive facilitation, guiding each of us on our journey of discovery in more ways than we can imagine – in the safety of unconditional love, infinite compassion and divine wisdom.

 

Michael called himself ‘Infinite Light Spiral’ and described his experience in this way:

 

Our time at Tartaruga and Ponto D’Ouro has been an amazing time of self-inquiry, reflection, frivolous laughter, tears and a deepening of connection to our essential selves, friends & the deep wisdom of nature & the dolphins.

 

We’re midway through our dolphin encounters and it feels like the beginning of an exciting new journey. My heart is feeling tender and open from the dolphins & our sessions together. I believe that what has taken place will continue to evolve back in the city.

 

Thanks Mandy for your gentle yet solid and stabilizing presence throughout and for enabling us to meet with these incredible beings, the Dolphins, re-connecting us to love, joyous spontaneity and play.’

 

Shane assessed his life and took the risk of pursuing a dream. He lived out his newly chosen name – ‘Wild & Free’ and sold a successful catering business to set up a Backpackers called Terra- Khaya in Hog’s Back where the streams, forests and waterfalls of the Eastern Cape of South Africa meander together through valleys and mountain passes. If you visit him today you will no longer find him adorning a white apron and chef’s hat but you will find a long haired, barefooted cowboy riding his horse bareback through his land. He has arrived at a new beginning with flair and fortune after a few days of dolphins, sun, friends, reflective facilitation and after a time of both adventure and relaxation.

 

This is not the end of the story of the five friends who enjoyed a wilderness experience with the dolphins, because three months later….

 

Mel and Wolf were enjoying lunch at a pavement restaurant at Camps Bay in Cape Town. The mountainous Twelve Apostles watched over them and they enjoyed the sun saturating their skin as they looked across the busy road to the beach and expansive sea on the other side. Mel’s tummy is rounded and she looks obviously pregnant and happy. ‘Dolphins’ she shouts. Other restaurant patrons look in the direction she is pointing and get excited too, but they do not leap from their table and race across the road to the sea, as Mel does. She moves with long-legged agility, despite her new shape. Wolf soon abandons his napkin and a few coins to pay for a light lunch and follows. The patrons look on with amused admiration as Mel and Wolf shed excess clothes to their costumes underneath and splash, knees up, into the icy, cold water of the Atlantic ocean.

 

As I mentioned before, Mel is a good swimmer. She reaches the dolphins first. They greet the new arrivals and invite them to join the pod. They frolic together for what seems to be an endless period of time for Wolf and Mel, but for the dolphins it is a brief encounter before they move on. Mel lingers longer, but Wolf is numb with coldness and swims for the warmth of the sea shore. A dolphin leaves the departing pod to return to Mel. There is a circling exchange before Mel too swims back. She arrives at the beach and runs out of the water, there are tears flowing down her cheeks and a distressed look on her face. Wolf had not expected this reaction, Mel had been deeply joyful just a few minutes ago. ‘What’s wrong?’ he frowns. ‘We have to get to the doctor’, Mel sobs, ‘the dolphin told me the baby is at risk’. Wolf, felt like his heart had stopped, but nevertheless burst into action. They left discarded clothes on the beach and ran to their parked car where they wrapped warm, comforting towels around them, put on flashing lights and raced for the nearest hospital.

 

Wolf screeched into the Emergency Entrance of the Somerset Hospital and a doctor examined Mel immediately. Wolf arrived at her side to hear him say, ‘You have just made it, you have a clot in your artery, if you had arrived just a few minutes later the baby would not have survived.’ Mel sobbed uncontrollably with relief and with shock from the trauma. The doctors administered the necessary procedures and another three months later Ethan was born. Sandy had already given birth to Damion and I was at their first christening. Even though Mel, Wolf, Ethan and Timothy live three hundred and fifty kilometres away from Sandy, Mike, Damion and their latest born, Sula, when the boys meet there is an inseperable bond between them, they are known as the ‘Dolphin Boys’,