After our recent trip to Zanzibar… one thing is obvious. There is so much to be learned from the ocean and its shore. Every time I visit one, some lesson seems to find me.
If I put my ear against a seashell what do I hear? The sound of the waves, the spirit of the sea… a sense of calm. I hesitate to breath; I want complete silence in order to uncover the mysteries within. When a simple moment is taken to be present with the ocean, the feeling is electric. Once I try to contemplate the vastness, the BIG-ness of the ocean I almost get caught up in the same sensations I might feel when trying to comprehend the hugeness of the universe. So. Big. So. Strong. So. Peaceful. For me it is by far one of the easiest places to learn more about myself and my spirit as I put the ramblings of my mind aside and pay attention to the calmness and the vastness of my “Creator”.
As a Colorado girl, (a landlocked state in the middle of the US) my first trip to the ocean was when at 12 years old, my family took a road trip to La Jolla, California. I was smitten, but not fully present, thus incapable of connecting fully to my higher power. When my parents bought a place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I had my first exposure to the world outside of the US. I visited many times while growing up however it wasn’t until I was older, 22, that the ocean had a profound effect on me. One night while standing on our balcony at 2 in the morning, sober, I really saw for the first time how magnificant the ocean is. With the moonlight reflecting off of the bay… I felt a huge sense of calmness and magic. So incredible was my feeling that I recalled I would always consider it to be my first spiritual experience. I remember standing there on the edge of the sea and feeling a “woooooowwwwww” sensation deep in my bones.
Since 2007, the year I voyaged to the other side of the planet I have had the pleasure of exploring the globe…beaches, beaches, and more beaches… The initial “wooowww” sensation is no longer an immediate reaction. I need to take a moment to really get present and pay attention. Then the “wooowwwww” effect takes place naturally and I start to see things differently. I start to learn anew.
Last month a website that I write for, Cohabitaire, had an ocean theme. I hesitated to write immediately because I had a trip planned to Zanzibar. I wanted to wait and discover what lesson was waiting for me off of the Tanzanian mainland. The lessons are always found in the spiritual experiences I have while visiting a particular coast, while being present.
Some of the lessons I have learned from beaches I have been to…
I took a trip to Hai Shang, a small coastal town a few hours outside of Beijing by train. Here I learned that there are always interesting characters found on the coast (including camels), and also, not all coasts are created equal. Some have been destroyed by human development… In Shanghai, the human development is astonishing but it is so shiny and beautiful, it almost hides the blemishes created by the growth.
Wow. I have been to Hong Kong many times for meditation retreats with some of my dearest girlfriends from Beijing. There is something magical about this place. Yes, you can see the amazing sky line and feel the incredible ambition of the human spirit for material growth, while at the same time, on the other side of the island lays a world of spiritual giants trying to get quiet and centered while in one of the worlds most bustling places. Lesson learned here, ask and you shall receive…
Fun. I have been to Thailand a number of times and this past summer Ross and I went with two of my sisters and we played, played and played. The lesson I learned here is that islands are a huge gift from God, to bounce around them is a joy, and to do so with people you love makes it all the better.Even if it rains…
Ahhhh, how cute! The lesson I learned here about the ocean is that quite often the coast matches the attitude of the people living there. Quaint, adventurous and lovely.
History, color, and zest. I learned that Europe has a spirit of its own.
Serious spiritual lessons were learned in Bali. While at a yoga teacher training my best friend died. The ocean was there with me and I learned that there is huge relief in talking to it out loud.. this is when my relationship with it really started to blossom. At this difficult time I found support in a handful of people who would love me and forever be my brothers and sisters… I learned that strangers can easily turn into our soul mates. Later, I pulled a meditation card here that read,
“The only God you will find at the top of a mountain is the God that you bring there.”
This hit me hard and has since been a concept I am constantly trying to remember.
In Australia I saw that the ocean was highly loved and respected by its inhabitants. I saw a beautiful coast the likes of which I had never seen. So well taken care of and used for such important purposes like surfing, playing and praying. Here I saw that the human potential for maintaining its resources is higher then we give it credit for.
Sitting at the most southern tip of India where three oceans meet… watching the sun rise up out of the water. Every cell in my body awakened and it was here I really felt the effect the energy of the sun has on our souls. I discovered why yogis get up with the sun. Additionally, it was while we were in India that my Grandfather came to me in my dreams the morning he passed away to say goodbye. We had a memorial service for him on the ocean and I learned that all things live and then return to the sea…
I moved to Mexico at 18 and partied, partied, partied. I hardly saw the ocean, which is part of the reason why at 22 everything changed. Since this time I have had a special connection with the Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta (in fact this is where we are getting married). For the last couple of years I have spent a few months here with Ross. When teaching yoga on the beach, having breakfast on the beach, and walking on the beach… life just seems to take on new form. We breath deeply and take it all in every morning. We watch the sun set into the bay every night. The lessons I have learned here recently are two fold 1) everyday is a new beginning and 2) the sun always sets and rises again.
Sand like none I have ever experienced…In the morning it is like flour and at night after the tide retreats it is like marshmallow cream. White sandy beaches that stretch on forever with teal blue water. I got into the ocean here and spontaneously sang my heart out. I felt soooo happy! The lesson I learned here is that this happiness is already withen me, no matter where I am in the world, whether it’s on the beach or on a mountain top. An advanced version of the lessons learned from Bali.
There are so many spiritual lessons I have learned while visiting the ocean… is it possible to narrow them all down into one? I suppose it would be accurate to say that the one thing I constantly discover is more about who I am and my relationship to the world around me. What continues to blow my mind is that the lessons are never ending, thus, I will constantly be able to discover more about myself. Of course this can be done anywhere, including my own living room (although I don’t have one just yet). It is just easier to see the power of the “Creator” when standing on the shore of a massive ocean or listening to the mysteries within a sea shell.