Vail Natural Path: Learning whale-sized lessons in Baja
Vail, CO Colorado
Over spring break, my husband and I had the opportunity to go to the San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja to visit the gray whales. The gray whales are migratory mammals that make their way to the same lagoon every year to mate and have their babies. While they are there, free of predators, they hang out and teach their babies the skills required to make the long migration north.
From our isolated desert island camp, we embarked on little fishing boats that took us far out into the lagoon. On the boats, the phenomenon of the “friendlies” became apparent to us. Enormous, 35-ton whales, swimming with their two ton babies in tow, approached the boats and allowed us to touch them, pet them, kiss them and even feel the insides on their mouths. The moms would often push their babies toward the boat to be caressed by us while she would move herself under our boats and slightly pick us up.
The amount of trust exhibited by these intelligent animals is astonishing. Especially when you consider that these animals ancestors were aggressively hunted just three decades ago. We too felt vulnerable as we sat at the mercy of the whales. But the mutual trust and affection between human and whale brought a peace to us that is simply indescribable.
This peace was within and among all of us on this trip partially because we had nothing to fret over or think about, except the whales and each other.
The trick is taking this feeling and implementing it back in the “real” world, which is, in reality, more artificial than anything about our whale experience.
My lesson comes in remembering what is important and what really doesn’t matter. When you are reflecting on your life, will it really matter how much work you got done? How clean your house was? How much money you made or clothes you had or what kind of car you drove? Will it matter if you were on time or if you made your deadline? Will it matter if your child didn’t bathe for a week or if she wore that outfit in public?
No, it won’t. The simple fact is that it is our connections with others that matter in life. It is our relationships with other people and other creatures and our natural environment that invigorate and teach us and make us better people.
When we take a step back, we may notice that the things we consider stressful aren’t actually worth the worry ” we have everything that we truly need in our families, our friendships and our environment. If we can just remember to connect and pay attention to what is really important in life, we will be healthier.
There is a strong mind-body connection. The more you worry, the more stress you have, the more sick you are. Recent research shows that 90 percent of all visits to primary care doctors are for some stress-related issue.
Because my office is not in the whale lagoon of Baja, I need other tools to help my patients. My favorite way to help patients relieve stress and tension is with acupuncture. Acupuncture stimulates the release of certain “feel good” chemicals called endorphins, which can help eliminate pain and relieve tension. Acupuncture can work at the emotional level to actually break barriers and affect coping mechanisms. Patients get the opportunity to see their problems in a different light, which helps them deal differently and reframe their thinking about their challenges.
Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating stress and stress-related illnesses. Unique in its ability to release the emotions by treating the physical body, acupuncture can help people change their response to stress and heal on a mind-body level.
This process of healing and releasing the stress that is so common for all of us is the best thing you can do for yourself and your health. If you can’t go be one with the whales, take the lesson I learned on my amazing trip. Remember that which is truly important in life and hold it close. Put in perspective all the rest, let go of what doesn’t really matter, and have faith that you will have a healthier and much happier life.