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Sibis swims with the dolphins

Swimming with the dolphins - transformation lessons from an unforgettable trip

Sibis Mouton

One of my all- time favourite novels is Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. There was a movie made of this book and in a scene near the beginning, Zorba looks at his 'BOSS' and says: "What kind of a man are you, that you don't get excited when seeing a pair of dolphins?"

My excitement at the thought of having the privilege of swimming with the dolphins led me in a completely new direction on my life's journey. In April 2001 I went to the Art of Living Festival in Cape Town. One of the lectures I attended was by Sue Myers - spiritual healer, behavioural kinesiologist and founder of the Breakthru Institute in Florida, USA. During the course of her lecture she mentioned that swimming with dolphins was a part of the FREEDOM course offered at the Institute. Were it not for my fascination with this dolphin swim, I might well have left after the lecture. Instead I decided to set up a private appointment with Sue. So I really have to thank the dolphins for all the richness, happiness and new purpose and direction that has subsequently come my way.

My appointment with Sue led to me doing the DISCOVERY course, offered by the Breakthru Institute, here in Cape Town in May 2001. It was then that I committed to doing the FREEDOM course in Florida in January 2002. This course is a prerequisite on the road to qualification as a Behavioural Kinesiologist and then to learn how to facilitate the NEW BEGINNINGS workshop, a one day transformational course offered by the Institute. Suffice to say, I have never learnt so much about my own behaviour and about living a victorious and powerful life as through the processes offered during this FREEDOM course. On the last day of the six day course our group of ten (five South Africans and five Americans) set off in convoy for the four hour drive to the Keys to join the dolphins at the 'Theatre of the Sea' in Islamarada.

My first observation was that these dolphins are inquisitive; they came really close to the rim of the lake to look at our group of ten people. They lay skew in the water and stared curiously at us with the one eye and we all immediately felt an affinity with them. I think many of us during the course of our lives lose our natural inquisitiveness - Business Week reported that an adult of 40 has approximately 2% of the creativity that is found in a child of five. Maybe many of us no longer look for the surprises in life; we let the wounds of life get us down. The result of this is that we start accepting a life inferior to one where we can have all the good that life has to offer without limitation, which is our birthright. Often this acceptance of less is driven by fear.

Our life can only be a masterpiece of joy when we are so aligned with what God wants us to do that there is no place for fear-based emotions like anger, hate, blame and guilt. Joy is only possible where there is no fear (F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real); where there is a safe inner sanctuary. If one waters the seeds of these negative emotions too much , one suffers and gets caught in habits which take us away from peace and love. The dolphins on the other hand only came from love, they were completely accepting of us and only wanted to bring us happiness.

The two dolphins assigned to our group were Twister and Sherman. Their understanding of fear can be illustrated in their treatment of one of the group, Sharon from Colorado. One of the great moments of the afternoon was to swim over the lake to the other side and then to wait with hands and arms stretched out for the two dolphins to come from behind, then to grab onto their dorsal fins on the top so that they could pull us through the water for a true joyride. Sharon was very hesitant because she was a bit afraid as she was not a particularly strong swimmer. Here is where the intuition of the dolphins was so graphically demonstrated. They came behind Sharon and just gently pulled her through the water. It was incredible to see their empathy and how they tuned in to her feelings. They immediately made her feel safe and she knew she could trust them - they respected her fear and gave her the assurance that she needed.

My turn was after Sharon. Let me put you, the reader, in the picture. I am a triathlete, a scubadiver and I love the water! I was inwardly hoping that they would pull me really fast! They didn't disappoint me: my hands barely touched their fins when they shot away like two bullets and they pulled me through the water like a speed boat - it was the most exhilarating feeling! Big waves splashed onto the jetty when they dropped me off - so much so that the man taking the video for our group drawled (in typical American fashion): "Whaooo, thaaaat is pretty special!" What a lesson in the art of understanding these creatures showed and how they use this gift to make people happy! The dolphins showed such respect for each one of us. Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist monk and Nobel Peace Prize nominee) shows real comprehension of this philosophy when he writes: "Respect is the foundation of [all] true love".

It is only when we are happy with ourselves, that we are able to do and behave as the dolphins did. A statistical survey in the United States revealed that 80% of people want to be somebody else! One of the greatest lessons I learnt during the course was that we must get back to our original self; the one without the wounds and affected behaviour; the real person - the one God created and wants us to be. Our life's journey is to get our core values back: to love ourselves, to respect ourselves, to honour ourselves and then, of course, to love others, to honour others and to respect others. And how can we not love ourselves? Each one of us is a magnificent creature with the Spirit of God dynamically alive and throbbing within us. Like the dolphins, we should be bursting with the song of life.

The dolphins and their way of being playful and powerful in the water reminded me of the old Zulu fable about the eagle and the crow. This fable illustrates very clearly the power of a positive attitude. When Umdali (the Creator) made the birds, He decided to give them these heavy burdens on their backs almost like two bricks. So the crow sat under the tree in the heat and said: Now why did Umdali give me these heavy things on my back, I can hardly walk. And he squeaked and moaned the whole day, sitting in the shade of the tree. The eagle said: I wonder why Umdali gave me these heavy things on my back, maybe I can learn how to use them. And every morning he tried to run and use these heavy things to balance him. On the 14th day the crow was still sitting in the shade of the tree and moaning about these two heavy burdens, when the eagle felt that he could flap his two burdens and he could actually stretch them out and then suddenly he soared up into the air and flew up up into the cool blue sky, playing and floating on the west wind. Today the crow still has this squeaky and moaning voice, moaning about his lot but the eagle is king of the sky, the strongest and freest bird of all. The dolphins epitomised that feeling of freedom; just like Zorba,who said: "Man needs a little madness or else he never dares cut the rope and be free". Centuries ago, the French Revolutionist Jean - Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778) was saying much the same thing: "L'homme est ne' libre, et partout il est dans les fers" - Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Five hundred years later, most of us still run after what the material world is dictating to us to the detriment of our personal freedom, our self expression and our natural state of happiness.

In 1994, the artist Jenny Holtzer exhibited in the famous Guggenheim Museum in New York. This modern art gallery housed her exhibition which consisted entirely of quotes, some written on white canvas, others using light bulbs to form the words. The huge centre piece following the beautiful spiral lines of the central dome of the Guggenheim read: "You are the victim of the rules you live by". The dolphins teach that coming from love is the only "rule" worth "obeying" : love for God, love for self, love for others. Then there are no "victims", only "victories"; no suffering, only serenity.

On this trip, I was also so privileged to hear Don Miguel Ruiz (author of the best seller 'The Four Agreements' and 'The Mastery of Love') speak at the Unity Church in Naples on the Gulf of Mexico. (Incidentally, Anthony Quinn who played the part of the unforgettable Zorba in the 1964 movie, had a house and a little art studio in Naples before he died in his eighties). The church was packed for his evening talk. Miguel Ruiz believes that we are artists,we can each create our own dream, we are the painters who choose our own colours, who paint a world of paradise or a world of darkness. It is simply a matter of interpretation and attitude.

My swim with the dolphins made an indelible impression on me. Now that I am running my own workshops, helping in the healing and guiding of people, I often think of the dolphins and of their incredible intuition and joie de vivre. Once we realise that something is possible, it will manifest itself. Humans are blessed with the same powers of intuition, the same capacity for the enjoyment of life. We must start believing we have intuition, we must start believing that we too can play in the waves like the dolphins, we too can soar up into the sky like an eagle and so bring honour to God for all the blessings we have.

"New Waves of Learning". Published in 2002 in the Odyssey Magazine, Volume 26 no 5, October/November, 24 - 25.