There are multiple springs around the National Forest area in north-central Florida. They are all fed by the same aquifer deep underground, and the spring fed water is crystal clear and about 72 degrees. As you read the blog, I think you will be amazed at the clarity of the water in the 2 videos …. you can see as well or better than a swimming pool.
Manatees are huge, herbivorous creatures that just sort of float around in the water. They like to come up into the “warmer” spring fed waters on occasion. We had the fortune to be able to swim and dive around with these massive creatures multiple times. Check out the underwater videos in the blog below, they are stunning!
Silver Glen Springs
I was amazed at just how clear the springs are in this part of Florida. My friend Cameron and myself took off from the Yoga Ashram and went the 7 miles or so to the springs. We are excited for this adventure.
Manatees are huge but peaceful creatures. They do have to come up every 5 minutes or so to breathe, but mostly they just lounge around feeding on the plants at the bottom of the Springs. In the picture below, Cameron is swimming right next to one of the young ones. That day there were 4 manatees, complete with a very playful baby and then much more slow moving but massive adults.
The large gray creature (the baby) right in front of Cam is the manatee!
I figured out my iPhone 8 is actually safe to put in the water! I had my fear at first, but Google assured me mine would be waterproof up to 3ft or 1 meter. So with Google’s reassurance (we’ve come a long way in this world, trusting Google as the source!!) I carefully lower the iPhone into the water. It worked! Everything still functioned.
That first leap of faith, lowering the phone into the water, is so similar to my spiritual growth. Whenever I completely trust in Spirit, and make the leap to head in the direction I’ve been guided, amazing starts to happen. Its hard to make that leap, but so often the rewards come that far outweigh the momentary discomfort I had to experience. How often in life have I failed to do something because fear cropped up, and instead I played small and didn’t go for it?!??!
So I’m diving down with my iPhone, and decide to video one of the smaller manatees. Ok take a deep breath, and down we go. Enjoy! The sun sparkles on the water’s surface creating a tranquilizing and mesmerizing pattern on the manatee’s back.
Video with manatee sparkling in the sunshine!
And speaking of yoga, the manatee appears to do a “downward dog” yoga asana movement while it is eating in the spring waters.
Swimming with the manatees!
I tend to come alive when I get immersed in nature. So I thought it would be fun to porpoise along with the manatee. We are supposed to stay 20 ft away from them, so I gave the young manatee some space but swam along with it. The video below shows some clips of that adventure. Truly amazing to swim along side of these gentle giants … and that one is a small one.
Bobby swimming with the manatees
Needless to say, that was a spiritual adventure! I was in the moment dolphining around the manatee, and all my fears, worries and anxieties disappeared for awhile. Peace within.
So many of the manatees that we see have propeller blade markings on their backs where boats have run over them. It is a big problem in Florida as these massive creatures come up for air and hang right at the surface. I was grateful that I just had my paddle board so as not to effect them. We as humans must be cautious so that these endangered animals keep flourishing … once they get large, humans are their only “predators”, as even the largest alligators and crocodiles cannot eat these massive, gentle giants.
I find it important and healing to connect with nature. When I do, these spiritual adventures remove all the stress in my life and I come out whole. I go into them with the intention of being in the moment, enjoying all that nature has to offer me. It’s a delight in that space, and then I can bring some of that into my life.
In nature I let go of my stress, and then come out a bit more whole. Very similar to meditating … moving meditation in nature!
Manatees teach us to be peaceful, to just enjoy the crystal waters, float around, eat ….. and let go of all those worries and stress and fears about the future. They rarely are in a hurry to get anywhere, and generally just go with the flow.
Nature brings me alive. Moving meditations in nature bring me that peace within.
Try it for yourself, get out there … No matter the venue, from running in the mountains, swimming with manatees or just at the beach, hiking, rafting, canoeing, playing ball outside in the sun, snowshoeing/skiiing/snowboarding in the colder country … make adventures in your life and find that peace within. Nature will heal, calm and uplift you. Make your outings spiritual adventures.
I plan to open numerous Spiritual Fitness Adventure Centers that allow for people to focus on spirituality while connecting with nature. Ever since I was a little boy, I found it quite difficult to sit at service in a church or temple and find some spirituality. Its not natural, especially for young people, to sit still, listen and become whole. I’ve found that getting out in nature, making that connection, enjoying and making an adventure out of life is the ticket to my spirituality and growth.
Be the “manatee”. Be in the moment. Meditations bring me there too.
Be sure to comment below and let me know how you embrace your “inner manatee”!
All the best
Please add your thoughts, questions, insights and how this blog spoke to you in the comments below. My goal is to be a driver for a spiritual fitness global movement, and I need your help. Your comments inspire that journey!!