Buddha Nature: Wisdom from Whales

The whales have returned! Each year between April and November, on the East coast we are blessed with the sight of humpback whales. They migrate north each winter from their Southern Ocean feeding grounds to warmer waters to mate, calve and return. As we observe them what can from these magnificient creatures we learn?

1. Remember to breathe: whales are considered conscious breathers as they need to remember to return to the surface, to breathe.

Conscious breathing describes a soft awareness of your breath as it moves in and out of your body. This practice can help you achieve a state of calm and presence so you can engage more deeply with life.

2. Show compassion: In the last 60 years, there have been 115 cases recorded of humpback whales defending other species against killer whale attacks. It has been argued that the humpbacks do this out of compassion and empathy for other creatures.

There are numerous proven benefits of both self-compassion and compassion toward others, such as increased happiness, improved medical outcomes, reduced stress, and increased social connectedness.

3. Sing your own song: Male humpback whales have complex and ever-evolving songs that can last for up to 30 minutes. Each year a new song is produced.

Your voice is important, unique, and ever changing. Your words reflect this moment and your unique personality.

4. Relationships are important: tests have shown that whales have spindles in their brain, like we do, and that they have the capacity to communicate, form alliances and relationships, and cooperate with one another.

Humans are social beings – and the quality of our relationships affects our mental, emotional, and physical health.

5. Stay playful and curious: Whales are known to enjoy a splash they are playful and curious creatures. We are delighted to witness them breaching and jumping, slapping their tails. Whales congregate in groups and often play with other animals.

The brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us learn and retain information that might not interest us at all. Adult play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, and stimulate creativity. Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates growth of the brain.

Buddha Nature: Ocean waves

  1. Everything changes

 The constant nature of change exhibits itself more profoundly in the ocean. While storms may visit, they never last, and calm waters will triumph once more.

“No man can ever step in the same river twice for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man.” ~ Heraclitus

  1. Living fully means taking risks; but choose wisely

If you choose to enter the ocean you take a risk. Surfers strategically pick and choose the best waves. Swimmers chose the calmest beaches. If you don’t take risks, you will never get the ride of your life. Staying safe on the shore may feel comfortable, but you’ll miss out on the fun.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

  1. Patience and persistence

Water flows and because it is persistent in its efforts over time, it can cut through the strongest of rocks, smoothing their hard surfaces. Water does not apply force; it applies persistence over time.

“A river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins

  1. Calmness brings clarity

When ocean waves are churning up the sand and debris it’s hard to see anything. On a calm day the waters are crystal clear. Your mind is like this water when it is agitated it becomes difficult to see. If you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” Tao Te Ching

  1. We are all connected

The vast ocean can’t exist without each particle of water. Rain falls and flows into streams and rivers which flow into the ocean. Each wave emerges from the ocean and retreats into the ocean. Each of us are part of humanity. We are all one small part of the greater whole.

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”― Brené Brown

What wisdom do you receive from the ocean?