Note: The following blog has been rated the most favorite by those who have read it. I was able to capture some video footage at Lake Kerr where the adventure occurred, and it enables you to see the same view as I did. I put it at the end so as not to spoil the story for those who may not have read it yet. You’ll go underwater, see the spectacular sun rays piercing the crystal clear water, and then see something dark ….. enjoy!
It’s a warm, sunny day in Florida, so I planned to swim across Lake Kerr and back where the Yoga ashram is located. Many years ago when I came here the bus driver stated “don’t swim in the morning or evening, especially dusk, as that is when the alligators are actively hunting; only swim in the middle of the day”!
Yes there are alligators in this water. They typically like to hide in the large overgrowth, bushes and shrubs in the feeder streams, but do occasionally go out to the main lake. I didn’t want to engage with these amazing reptiles, so I swim in the wide open water and only at mid day.
Alligators and crocodiles (shown above) crossing the road in Florida have been seen on occasion, and the above photo shows one of them. So I have swum many times in the middle of the day here at Lake Kerr in the backyard of the yoga ashram and haven’t seen an alligator …. yet!
“Lunch” Time Swim
OK, the sun is high overhead, and I’m off on an adventure. I’m going to swim most of the way to the other shore, but avoid the far side with the deep brush and shrubs. I’ll turn around a few hundred yards out from the far shore and come back. The whole journey will take about 45 minutes. I swam in college so this will require a bit of effort yet I intend to relax and enjoy the moments, and just have a good, solid swim workout.
It’s roughly a mile to mile 1/4 across, so it will be an exciting adventure. I plan to relax into the water, get lost in a deep meditative space, and enjoy the journey within and across the lake.
At the side of the dock, there is a “welcoming” sign telling me to swim at my own risk. OK … the stage is set, onward to the other shore and inward on my own journey.
The journey begins. When I start there are a few clouds in the sky, and the lake is calm. About 10 minutes or half a mile out, the sun comes out. Wow, there are streaks of beautiful golden rays piercing the water, and I can see them all the way down for 20 feet or so. In Colorado, the lakes tend to be quite murky and your lucky if you can see your hand in front of you as you swim along. Here, the spring fed lake has utter clarity and beauty as the sun rays brighten up the water.
I’m into my relaxed zone now, with a steady rhythm to my arms, nice breathing pattern, and feeling energized. The golden rays light up the water. I am deeply relaxed and go to that deep peace within. Yes! These are the moments when I most connect with Spirit/Source/God/Higher Power. I’m one with the water and sun rays.
Dark shadow stalking me below!
That pure bliss is suddenly broken!! Whoa … there is a dark, 6 foot long figure swimming below me about 20 feet down. It is slightly behind me and going at my pace. Yikes, what is it?!?! Do alligators swim that far under the water? Is it a shark? How about a manatee? Now I’m good with a manatee, but it looked ominous down there.
OK so I speed up my nice comfortable pace, and I want to see if I can drop this monster … nope, it sped up and kept relatively the same spot 20 feet underneath me. OK, slow down …. it slowed down and kept right with me. Am I being stalked by an alligator? I went from deep peace to stunned mind in a few seconds. Well … if this is the end, hopefully it won’t last long! I have not been afraid to die, rather I want to truly “live” life, and if this is it, then I went out living life today!
Embracing the Dark side
Then I realized, that is my shadow! Wow what a relief!!! I stopped. It stopped. Hurrah, that is my shadow!
I continue swimming, and way down at the 20-foot level the sun’s rays stop and the shadow begins. I start to enjoy my shadow, as it is like a swimming companion in the middle of the lake. The beautiful sun rays and my dark shadow below travel across the lake to the far side. I’m at peace again. How stunningly beautiful this place is.
I turn around to head back to the yoga ashram. The shadow has moved slightly behind me now, as the sun is to the south shore where I am heading. So me, my shadow, and the sun rays once again swim back across the lake. I fell back into that deep place of peace within. My arms are a little tired but doing well and I will have no problems getting back.
The thought occurred to me as I swam back that in order for me to become happy in life, I must embrace my shadow side, that dark side I try to hide from everyone. We humans like to present the good side of ourselves, and keep the shadow hidden away. Any of those negative, angry, fearful thoughts and actions get buried somewhere in the past. I like to pretend all is well. Yes a very calm, placid surface like the one below.
However, lurking underneath that placid calm surface can be a crazed, chaotic, depressed, angry inner self. I can be miserable inside. When I make peace and accept these emotions that surface, I then return back to the calm. When I pretend all is well, that is when I need alcohol, drugs or some other form of escape. Yes inner peace only comes with acceptance of our shadow side!
Swimming back across the lake, I’m at peace with my shadow trailing along 20 feet down. The golden rays light the way. This has been an epic journey, both without and within.
Coming near the shore, a cloud comes over. I lose the shadow. I miss that 6 foot monster stalking me below now! My swimming companions, the shadow and the golden rays, have gone. Its just me .
The last hundred yards, the sun came out again. What a journey. The golden rays are back, and the swim is over.
Added Underwater Video
I was able to go to the lake and shoot some underwater video. I start out right off the pier, and its about 4 feet of water. You can see the bottom clearly and my reflection off the bottom. The sun rays are truly captured throughout the video.
I then go out to 8 to 10 feet in depth, just off the end of the pier. The sun rays are spectacular, and the dark shadow starts to become more of a dark blob like is experienced in the middle of the lake. Out in the middle, one cannot see the bottom, the sun rays converge 15 feet down or so, and the dark shadow is with you all the way! Enjoy the new video. I added some “shark” movie audio segments to heighten the dark shadow experience!
Conclusion – Peace within comes after peace with my shadow
My swim was just an analogy for life. We all have our shadow sides, that dark side, where we hide the things we don’t want others to see. Many people pretend the shadow doesn’t exist at all, and I was certainly one of them! I would only see the golden sun rays and never, ever, ever look down deep inside to see the shadow. What shadow?!?
That need for perfection, the need for all of you to see only my good side led me to escape with alcohol and drugs. We humans can find all sorts of addictions, whether it be alcohol and drugs like mine, or controlling, fear, anxiety, depression, sadness, and many other ways we try to escape the life we live. We direct the “play” of our lives, and try to arrange all of the people, scenery, lights and action to be just right. We pretend we have no shadow or dark side. We become miserable.
The key is to embrace that 6 foot shadow, accept it, and realize it is a part of our lives. Sweeping it under the carpet or away just causes fear of it being discovered or resurfacing. Fear takes away the inner peace. Only by fully embracing our dark side do we bring light to the darkness, and then the dark no longer has any power.
Embrace your shadow alligator!! Shine the light on it and live with a deep peace within.
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!!