Dolphin Dance

A magical and lasting experience

By Peter Russell

Originally published in Skin Deep, March/April 2009.

Some years ago, I was conducting a “Wisdom of the Dolphins” workshop in Hawaii, where we swam with wild dolphins off the Kona coast each day.

One day, I suddenly realized I was a long, long way from the boat. I felt myself moving into a slight panicky mode because I’m not a strong swimmer. I had been caught in Hawaiian currents before and nearly drowned, so I’m very respectful of them. Trying not to panic, I started swimming back in the direction of the boat, which was now just a tiny speck on the water. I was thinking, “I’ve got to get back toward safety, toward the boat.” Suddenly, the dolphins appeared beneath me.

I was amazed to find all sense of fear and anxiety in me evaporated instantly. Often, when I’m recovering from that kind of fearful reaction, the anxiety gradually dies away. But in this instance, as soon as I saw the dolphins, the anxiety just switched off. One moment it was there, the next it was gone.

I found myself turning around and swimming back out to sea, away from the boat, following the dolphins beneath me. The voice in my head was saying, “You’re crazy. You’re a long way from the boat and security and you know how dangerous these currents are. What are you doing swimming out to sea with the dolphins, away from safety?” But I knew deep inside that I was totally safe, that everything was absolutely OK. I found that instant shift in consciousness quite fascinating. I swam with the dolphins a while longer, and needless to say, I did make it back safely.

When it was time to leave, we all climbed back into the boat and started it up. The dolphins stopped what they were doing, swam over to the boat, leapt around it and then followed us back a bit before swimming off. They had welcomed us and now acknowledged our departure. It was a magical experience and one that had a deep impact on me afterward.

I’ve swam with wild dolphins a number of times, and I’ve noticed in the days afterward, I’m changed. This time, two days later, I was giving a lecture, and I noticed myself feeling a different sense of freedom as I spoke. In fact, I gave four lectures over the next week that all had a different feel to them. I felt spontaneous, alive, and supported in some way. I had this sense that the peace and sacredness of my time with the dolphins had stayed with me.