Today I have something a bit different to share with you beauties ~
My friend Melissa Flagg recently returned from Tonga where she participated in workshop in Somatic Movement taught in part by her human teacher, and in part by the Humpback whales they swam with every day. Melissa is a phenomenal storyteller and one who experiences life deeply.
As she recounted her experiences with the whales to me over the phone recently, I felt so moved by what she shared that I wanted you to hear her story too, so I asked her to write a guest blog post for Revive Radiant Health.
And she said, “YES!”
Here it is:
As days pass, and I move further away from my time in Tonga, I realize that I can’t hold on to these experiences. They move like sand through my fingers, catching the sunlight for a moment before disappearing into the landscape of memory.
I can feel their imprint on me; and they continue to move me, shaping me now from the inside out. It is this internal shaping that I notice in the quiet moments when I am writing or when I find myself sharing some new facet of my story face to face with another.
Experience becomes memory entwined with insight and then is shared: this is the alchemy of storytelling, and it is truly magic.
As I connect on a deeper level to the experiences that hold meaning for me and turn them into story I hear the voice of my heart.
Every time I dip into the well of story I wonder what could possibly emerge, and as it slowly takes form, I hear my heart clear and bright, and feel its resonance.
I am reminded of why I became a filmmaker: I fell in love with stories.
I felt their power, how they can connect us, and carry us backward and forward through time. Stories ask us to listen, to pause and reflect, and dive deeper in our own experiencing and understanding of the world. Sharing our stories makes us strong, and it allows us to remember things that we might have forgotten.
It seems we live in a time of forgetting, a time of lost stories, where everything must move fast, or get out of the way. Attention spans are shrinking, and the volume of persistent and constant distraction is growing. Our lives are busy, our energy is dispersed in many directions all at once, and we effort to be productive and successful.
To keep up we must sacrifice sleep, relationships, and our health. We also end up sacrificing play, dreaming… and deep listening. We condition and pattern our bodies to be like machines. But we are not machines. We are living, breathing, organic, fluid organisms, and we have forgotten the value of rest, and of slowing down.
Swimming in the ocean with baby humpback whales in Tonga taught me something about curiosity and playfulness. It allowed me to remember a time when I met the world with a child’s wonder and pleasure – and it awoke that openness in me again.
But there was another presence in the cerulean blue depths, a presence so big I struggle continually to find the words expansive enough to touch it. Mother humpback whales. Weighing up to 40 tons, often resting just below the surface; being near these awe-inspiring animals gave me an experience of loving presence that I will never forget. As we human swimmers kicked our legs, and maneuvered our small buoyant bodies and dangly appendages through the water, bobbing and swaying with the waves on the surface, beside and below us, in the calm depths, a giantess slept. It was like being in the water with a living mountain – she was that immense, that still. And yet in a moment, she would emerge from the shadowy depths, moving as if she was water herself; embodying the deepest presence I have ever known.
“For me the mama whale seemed to be the antithesis to the busy, disconnected, and disembodied modern world where so many of us live. She called my attention to another way of being, asking me to slow down, to find rest, to move with my whole body… to be with my whole experience.”
I have thought a lot about my powerful experiences of swimming next to mother humpbacks – trying to understand what I felt in the company of these extraordinary animals.
One minute I would be swimming, looking around, eager to see her, and then a mother would rise up and move toward her baby, and “I” would all but disappear in to fullness of experiencing and being.
When she moved, the water changed, my body changed… it was as if she emanated a field of loving presence and everything became that. No separation. This is the best that I can describe it. I use the word loving because love was always present.
This is how I remember the mother humpbacks: Deep Presence. Big-Hearted Intelligence. And Resting.
For me the mama whale seemed to be the antithesis to the busy, disconnected, and disembodied modern world where so many of us live. She called my attention to another way of being, asking me to slow down, to find rest, to move with my whole body… to be with my whole experience.
If you have ever come across any of the emerging science about heart intelligence, or spent some time on the Heart Math Institute’s website you might have read about how the heart produces the largest electromagnetic field of all the organs in the body… and that this field can be detected several feet away in humans. How big do you think the heart of 40 ton Mother whale is? And how far do you think that electromagnetic field might extend?
My sense of these whale encounters is that I was literally swimming in the field produced by these huge intelligent beating hearts – the water carried the waves of movement and energy, right through me, my own fluid body pulsing with the mother whales heart.
Heart to heart communication… a natural and fluid form of connection. I think we humans could learn a lot from whales.
We may not have hearts as big, but we certainly have the capacity to see, hear, and speak with our hearts. We have the capacity to use the intelligence of our hearts to be more compassionate with ourselves, with others, and with the world we live in.
There is so much to learn from just loving presence, from slowing down, from remembering how to rest.
Why do we need to rest? Maybe it is to allow our heart to speak. To allow the natural intelligence in our bodies the time and energy required to heal, to integrate, to evolve and communicate.
“Nothing evolves us like Love,’ wrote the great Sufi mystic, Hafiz.
To be sure, nothing moves us like love, and what else is evolution, but movement through time. Let us agree to be moved more by love.
Melissa Flagg is an independent filmmaker, writer, movement artist and somatic movement facilitator woh works across multiple disciplines with diverse populations. Melissa’s recent projects include working for the Tŝilhqot’in National Government on the Reviving Traditional Dance Project and The Physical Intersections Digital Collaborations (PIDC Project) based in Victoria.
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