Blessed Baja… Terrain of Joy
Its hard to find anything more sublime than Baja’s dawn skies and sunrises that last for long dreamy hours. Every morning, as we meditated together on remote island beaches on this silent kayaking retreat we were filled with wonder. Crimson, gold and scarlet would light up morning clouds as still calm waters reflected the canopy with its own colorful greeting.
This joy filled group of twelve meditators plus our trusty guides paddled out to protected islands near Loreto on the Sea of Cortez, and camped for a week in serene solitude. Everyone was in awe of the rugged wild beauty of the desert, and the distant jagged spine of the Las Gigantes mountain range, whose colors and shapes shifted with changing light.
The retreat was blessed by a pod of bottle nosed dolphins escorting us as we left the mainland. And throughout the week dolphins graced us with their playful presence daily, teaching us about spontaneous joy and innocent delight.
One day while we were floating in the open sea a fin back whale surfaced barely 20 feet from our kayaks. She played around our tiny boats for about twenty minutes, with her huge body surfacing, blowing and diving all around us. It was a moment of grace.
What was particularly satisfying for me in my role as meditation teacher was watching people get the power and significance of entering the natural world in silence, with meditative awareness. They discovered how much deeper their connection and receptivity to nature became, and how much more is felt, seen and understood.
With this meditative attitude, everyone also increased their capacity for joy. At times it broke out into spontaneous laughter and celebration! I noticed how the sensitivity that comes from mindfulness practice opened people more easily to appreciation and astonishment. In quieter moments there was simply a quiet devotion and reverence for this beautiful earth we have the pleasure of living on.
One particular highlight for me was hopping on a paddle board at night with my good friend and co-guide Bob Licht. There was no moon and the stars which we slept out under were dazzling. We had noticed that the bioluminescence was strong that night and wanted see it from the vantage point of a paddle board. What we saw almost blew us out of the water.
Each time we moved our paddles in the water the myriad of fish would dart in all directions and because of the bio-luminescence, it looked like trails of white fireworks exploding in all directions. Wherever we paddled, streaks of lightening fanned out below us. Later that night, sleeping out under the stars we were woken by the sound of dolphins. They were just off shore playing and jumping, their bodies and movements lit up by the white phosphorescent lights. It was a magical display.
It always a good reminder for me when I do these nature retreats, how powerful this combination of nature and meditation really is. This retreat has given me renewed inspiration to keep finding wild places and offering the chance for people to be in community in the wilderness yet with profound silence and contemplation. Then the magic begins.