DOLPHIN ASSISTED INTENSIVE THERAPY AUGUST 26- 29, 2004
By Elizabeth Pasquale, LMT, CST
DAY 1, WEDNESDAY
Freeport, Grand Bahaman Island.
There were 6 clients and 13 therapists. The 6 clients were (names changed for privacy) Jeff, a young man of 15 with Cerebral Palsey; Nickey, a woman 69 years old who’s husband had died that spring of heart attack; Roger, middle aged, from Alaska, recovering from a stroke; Ann, from Scotland and Donna, from Indiana both middle aged and suffering rheumatoid arthritis; and Leslie, from California with m.s. We were 13 CranioSacral Therapists including Chas, the Upledger Foundation instructor directing this Intensive Program; Cat, therapist and assistant director; Suzie, another seasoned Upledger instuctor; Sally, the PT from Texas who’s highest profile clients were the Egyptian conjoined twins (They’re doing great after their separation and are now walking!); Karen, Raji, Tom, Marie, Mary, Cindy, Jim, Kelly and myself. Meredith, a therapist herself, facilitated the program.
We started by introducing ourselves and the clients said what they hoped to gain from the week.
Jeff’s mom, Nancy, spoke for Jeff. First, just a little description of Jeff so you can get some idea of the initial visual impact he made. Though he was 15 years old & had a slight mustache, his physical stature was more like a 3 year old. He weighed only about 30 pounds, down from 60, his mom said. He had no speech and his body was contorted in such a way that it looked as if it was collapsing in on itself. He looked and felt very rigid. He gave me the impression he was in pain.
Nancy was in tears as she described that Jeff had spent the weekend with his dad and he wasn’t fed properly (he is tube fed) and that he was all blocked up. She hoped he would get some relief. They had been to the Intensive Program at The Upledger Clinic at West Palm several times and they had been looking forward to the Dolphin Intensive for years, ever since they heard about its possibility.
Roger had suffered a stroke alone and was found unconscious at home 3 days later. He’d made an amazing come back, getting most of his speech back, and could walk but it was halting and unsteady. He wanted to improve his walking.
Leslie’s m.s. had progressed so now she was wheelchair bound. She was a professional and independent and she resented being out of control. She spoke about her spirituality and how she was trying to heal herself.
Donna was in pain and had come at her husband’s insistence. She didn’t know what to expect.
Ann was a CranioSacral Therapist with a practice in Scotland. They both hoped to find relief for their arthritis.
Nickey was the last one to speak and most of us joined her in her tears as she described her grief at her husband’s sudden death. “I am lost,” she said. “I am blind. I want to find peace.”
We all piled into two mini-vans and headed for Sanctuary Bay, the Dolphin’s home. We were to go every morning and interact with the Dolphin’s from 11 to 12 noon. We met them in a large sectioned off pool area that was open at the bottom and continuous with Sanctuary Bay. The two Dolphins were free to come and go. They were accompanied by a trainer.
The pool was about 40 feet wide by 60 feet long. There was a 10 foot wide platform running the width of the pool where the water was about 3 feet deep. The clients were to stay at that end, each with the two therapists assigned to them, while the Dolphins freely interacted with them. The clients lay back on the water, floating, with their therapists minimally supporting them and doing CST. Chas instructed us to treat the Dolphins as the lead therapists. As the Dolphins swam by, we were to present the client and try to stay out of the Dolphins way. We were to trust that the Dolphin would be aware of the client’s needs and would treat the client in various ways. The Dolphin might touch the client and we were to keep track and record these touches in the client’s record. The Dolphin might use their melon (head) area and direct sonar to the client or emit sounds and treat the client with sound or vibrational energy.
We arrived early the first day and stood on the observation deck while another group was in the water having a Dolphin Experience. The working Dolphin performed tricks for this group under the trainer’s commands and allowed the group to touch the Dolphin. While this was going on, I stood looking off in the direction of the nearest pen where two dolphins were swimming. I felt these were our therapists and I naturally began to brief them on this mornings meeting.
I had just read “Animal Talk” by Penelope Smith, an excellent book on animal communication. Ms. Smith instructs very clearly how to converse with animals. I decided to practice. I just focused on them with a clear mind until I felt I had their attention. I then simply related what the clients had said about themselves that morning. For instance, with Nickey, I told them she had “lost her mate” with his death. I felt they understood that perfectly. But when I came to Ann, I added something. I told them about the arthritis (They seemed to have no difficulty with the medical terms m.s. and arthritis which I could explain simply) but I also told them something Ann hadn’t told the group that morning. I told them what she had told me at the beach the day before.
The 2 of us had arrived before the others and we had spent the day at the beach. It was a long day and we had plenty of time to talk. Ann told me that the day before she had left home for the Bahamas Intensive, her husband of 20 years had told her he was having an affair. She arrived completely distraught over it. This was not an easy thing to explain to the Dolphins. They didn’t understand about “affairs” and family disharmony. The best I could do was to tell them it was as if she had “lost” her husband, too, but she hadn’t “lost” him at the same time. He hadn’t died but she had still “lost” him.
Chas instructed us that we were to be in the water in 2 groups. First, little Jeff, Roger and Leslie; then Nickey, Ann, and Donna. Each group had an hour.
Let me explain to you something about Dolphin time. One hour doesn’t seem like much, but something happens to time when you are with the Dolphins. It seems to stand still. A second seems like a very long time. So when I describe to you that a Dolphin touched a person’s head for 3 seconds, you may think, “Oh, what a very short time!” You must understand that I have just described to you an eternity.
The Dolphins that treated us that first day were the Dolphins I had been conversing with in the closest pen. Their names were Coral and Exuma. Coral was to be our therapeutic Dolphin on all of the 4 days and we had Exuma one day, Abico one day and Tano two days. Coral was without a doubt the Lead Therapist Dolphin and it was obvious that she was training the other Dolphins. The trainers later agreed with my intuition.
I watched the first group because I was in the second group as Nickey’s therapist. I saw Coral and Exuma treat each person differently. Leslie was afraid and clutched her therapists. As the Dolphins approached, she became nervous and they moved away. Roger was a large man and relaxed in the water. They hit his head pretty hard with their rostroms. Later Roger was to say, “They hit the right side of my head hard, like being hit by a football. After they did that a few times, they hit the left side, but much softer. It was like they were trying to balance it out. I just thanked them. I relaxed and it didn’t hurt. I trusted them. I didn’t think anything negative because I felt, if I did, they would go away. I didn’t want them to go away.”
They were totally gentle with little Jeff, who was between Roger and Leslie. They would stop a few feet in front of him and just look at him. They would swim underneath all 3 of them. Jeff began to elongate.Then it was our turn. Donna was at one end, Ann in the middle, and Nickey at the other end. Each woman was held by 2 therapists and I was with Nickey. I began to talk to Coral as she swam by. I treated her much the same as when I worked with Dr. Upledger. I asked, “Where would you like to be on Nickey? Where would you like me to be?”, and I tried to clear my mind and listen for her answer. Coral immediately came over, touched Nickey’s feet, made clicking sounds and blew forcefully out her blow hole. She left and returned, and this time she draped her entire body over Nickey’s thighs and Exuma lined her body up parallel, touching both of Nickey’s feet with her body. They stayed that way a full 2 seconds and then left, swam once around the pool and returned to that exact position and stayed for another few seconds.
Coral returned many times after that, while Exuma was primarily busy at the other end of the pool with Donna. I addressed Coral, talking silently, “Coral, what would you like me to do? How can I assist you?”
I heard clearly, “The left side. I want the left side.” Nickey turned in the water, her left side to Coral, and Coral worked what appeared to me to be the heart meridian up the left arm. She touched several places, left, then paralleled her body to Nickey’s, the length of Coral’s body touching Nickey. Coral left again and returned, asked me for the right side. She went back and forth between Nickey and Ann. Then Coral asked me to line Nickey and Ann up head to head, with the tops of their heads touching.
“Am I really hearing this?” I thought. Coral popped out of the water in front of me, looked me straight in the eye and shook her head at me, as if telling me to get with it, laterally bobbing her head to indicate the direction I was to move Nickey. I did as she asked and when Nickey and Ann were positioned so that the top of their heads touched, Coral put her rostrum in the middle, touching both women’s heads simultaneously at the exact place where they touched each other.
I don’t know why, but I began to cry as I watched. Then the women floated apart slightly (or is Coral moving them?). The left side of Nickey’s head touched the left side of Ann’s head and Coral was touching the right side of Ann’s head. It appeared that Coral was treating Ann through Nickey and they stayed in this position for several seconds.
At the same time, Exuma was working with Donna. It was hard because Donna was unable to relax in the water and was very tense, trying to keep her head up. Donna said later, “It was really neat when they went towards my feet because I was born crippled.”
Later, when we therapists talked about how Coral treated Nickey and Ann, Chas, who had directed all the previous 3 Dolphin Intensives, said he had never seen anything like it. He had never seen the Dolphins lay across someone’s body the way Coral lay across Nickey’s body with Exuma at the feet. He hadn’t seen Coral treat 2 people at once. Suzie said it looked as if Coral was lining up Nickey and Ann’s sphenoid and limbic systems. We called it creating a limbic loop. Many of us felt Coral was creating some sort of shared communication between Nickey and Ann.
Later Nickey was to say about the experience, “I felt the dolphins against my legs. But I was especially taken with the sounds. It was like a concert with sounds in harmony. It seemed like a minute in the water. Everything came out, everything I knew but didn’t know I knew.”
Ann said, “It was a very sacred space for me. The sounds were going through my body, through my shoulder blades and head. Releases were happening in my spine.”
DAY 2, THURSDAY
Nancy, Jeff’s mom, reported that she’d been up all night with Jeff. He relieved himself all night long of stuff that was clogging his digestive system. “I’m not complaining,” she said. “It’s great he got rid of all that stuff. He looks like he’s feeling much better today. And he doesn’t want to be sitting in his wheel chair. (Jeff was in his mom’s lap.) He wants to see what’s going on.”
I worked with Donna. As we walked to the minivan she told me again what she had told the group the day before. “I saw my father get killed when I was five years old. He was killed in a motorboat accident. I was on the dock when it happened and I saw the boat spin around. He probably was dead, killed by the propellor and didn’t drown. But I just keep seeing that and I’m afraid of the water. I’m afraid of drowning. I don’t want to get water up my nose or get my head under water. I’m afraid I won’t float.”
So I said to her, “Here’s a little exercise that you might want to try. Maybe it will be helpful. You can imagine a trunk. It’s a solid trunk and you can put things in it and they will be safe there. They can stay in it until you want them back later and no one else can get to them. Can you imagine such a trunk? Well, if you want to, you can put all those things into the trunk that keep you from benefiting fully from this time with the Dolphins. All the fears or feelings or whatever. You can get them back after. See if maybe that feels like something that will work for you.”
When our turn came in the water, Tom offered to hold Donna’s head out of the water. She said, “No, its OK. I’m going to let my head in the water.” And she lay down perfectly relaxed. The Dolphins came and touched her several times, swam under her and chattered.
In the afternoon, the clients have the option for therapy in the pool or on a table inside. Donna chose the pool. She kept flipping over and diving underwater. Then she would come up sputtering and telling us she didn’t want to go under water. I said, “You tell us you don’t want to go underwater and then you dive underwater. I want to speak to that part of you that wants to dive underwater.” She didn’t answer, but dove back under the water. Later, she was able to tell us it was the 8 year old Donna that wanted to play and dive in the water. She also was able to tell us about how awful her childhood was after her dad died. She had gone to live with a very cruel woman who would beat them and put her and her brothers in a closet.
She told me she had put all these things in her trunk so she could relax in the water and enjoy her Dolphin time. Over the next 3 days, she took them out one by one and worked with them. She told us the next day that she went for a swim that night and another one in the morning. She was turning into a real water baby.
She said, “I felt the Dolphins at my sides. I felt like I became one of them. I felt I could swim with them. I didn’t know I could float so much. I don’t want to get rid of little Donna. I need to learn how to keep her. How do I put the past behind me? I can’t float at home, so what do I do when I leave here? I need direction on that.”
Chas told her, “There is something in you that knows that direction, something in you knows that space because now you’ve been there. We help you so it becomes a familiar place, you can go to whenever you want. You can revisit the traumatic events from the sacred place rather than the little girls perspective.”
Donna said, “I could see better when I came out of the Dolphins. I have fought and I have survived.”
DAY 3, SATURDAY
Donna was floating relaxed when Coral came by and splashed her. Donna stood up coughing up water. She then lay back down and relaxed again. This time when Coral swam by, she stopped at Donna and put her entire head on Donna’s face and forcefully dunked her under the water. I could see Suzie trying to pull Donna in. Donna came up sputtering and coughing, saying she was afraid of drowning. Coral and Tano didn’t swim away. They stayed there and watched as Suzie comforted and worked with Donna. Then Donna turned to look at the waiting Dolphins. She lay in the water and relaxed again. They touched her gently on the top of the head.
Ann: “At the end, one Dolphin came up and stayed at my side. (Crying) It was very comforting. It was like she was giving me the hug I needed. It was beautiful. Feeling a lot of feelings, but not words.”
Suzie: “I want to remind you the session was about finding the flow, not about finding words.”
Radje: “The Dolphin carressed Ann four or five times.”
Ann: “I felt the sounds go into my bone marrow and dural tube.”
Leslie: “The Dolphins were doing a lot of clicking, heavy breathing in my right ear. I felt they were saying “breathing is part of your healing.”
Today we put everyone in the water at once, 6 clients and 13 therapists and Nancy, Jeff’s mom, and his sister, Tara. Nancy and Tara have been Jeff’s support team all week and attending every therapy. They stood behind as Jeff was in the pool with the Dolphins. We talked the next day about it being very peaceful, like a group “Still point.” Nancy said, “Jeff’s stomach is nothing like it was. Everything seems to be working. Everybody was peaceful (in the Dolphin pool that morning). I felt Jesus was present. The Dolphin is a symbol of Christ rising. I could see Jesus in the Dolphin’s eyes. He was there healing everyone of you.”
All week, Jeff seemed to be getting longer. I happened to be standing next to him in the pool (I was working with Nickey). We were in the pool before the Dolphins and as the Dolphins swam in, I saw him lift his little arms wide open and kick his feet. It was the first time I had ever seen him move. When we talked about it later, the other therapists also saw him move his arms and legs.
Nickey was lying in the water and I was holding her head in the way Jeanne Pierre Barral teaches in Advanced Visceral Manipulation. You hold one hand over the crown of the head, covering the sagittal suture with the length of your middle finger. The other hand supports the occiput. The therapist then feels a time line along the length of the sagittal suture, the posterior end representing the client’s birth and the anterior end represents the present. The therapist then feels for disrupted energy along that line and judges from the placement of the line disruption, at what age the trauma happened. I felt trauma very young in Nickey’s life.
At that moment, Coral came and positioned herself along the length of Nickey’s left side. She just lay there and didn’t move.
In the afternoon table session, I asked Nickey about that moment. I told her I was feeling a trauma very early in her life and did she have any feelings about. She said while she was in the Dolphin pool, she saw an image of herself wrapped up in cotton. She was wrapped up and being prepared for burial, but she was not dead. Just then Chas touched her and asked her if she was OK. She heard herself say she was “Fine.” “That’s funny,” she thought. “I’m being buried alive yet it is fine.” Then she heard breathing. She thought she was hearing her own breathing but then she thought it might be the Dolphin. She imagined the Dolphin lying next to her, but it seemed so real. So she opened her eyes to look and she was looking directly into the eye of the Dolphin who was lying next to her. And she thought, “I am unique, but I am not alone.” Immediately she felt she was not dead, but resurrected.
She then told me when her mother was pregnant with her, her mom tried to abort her with a knitting needle. When she was 2, her dad molested her and the maid walked in on him. He said to the maid, “If you talk, I’ll kill you.” She thought he was talking to her and from then on she could not speak her mind. She saw herself as a young wife of 30 on the operating table having breast augmentation surgery. The doctor stood beside her with a knife in her left breast. He told her, “This is not going to hurt” but it was very painful. He gave her more anesthesia but it was still painful. But she couldn’t tell him to stop. She was having the surgery to please her husband.
We imagine the husband comes to her side and tells her she doesn’t need to have the surgery. He says he loves her just the way she is. He loves her personality. Nickey then tells the doctor to stop. She will not have the surgery. It’s not necessary.
We go back in time and visit Nickey’s Mom. She is sad. She tells Nickey she loves her. Nickey visits with her dad. She sees he was abused and her ancestors before him were abused and abusers. She listens as her 2 year old self is able to confide in her that their father has abused her. Adult Nickey assures her 2 year old she is safe now and Nickey will take care of her. We confront the father with what he has done and insist he get therapy and not be alone with little Nickey again.
I am amazed that so much can be done in one 2 hour session. We are moving at Dolphin speed.
DAY 4, SUNDAY
Nickey tells the group, “When I came the first day, I was so mixed up and now its completely clear. Everyday was different. I’ve been through my whole life. I don’t have any doubt about healing anymore.” She also described me as the fisherman who won’t let the fish off the hook.
Again we all were in the Dolphin pool together. This time I worked with Jeff. His mom, Nancy, and sister, Tara, were in the pool and they took turns holding Jeff. While one held Jeff, the other floated next to him and was also treated. Tara lay floating in the water first while Nancy held Jeff. Immediately Coral swam up to Tara and lay across her lap, looking her in the eye. Tara was looking straight at Coral, too.
Later, when Tara was holding Jeff and Nancy was floating beside them, I found myself between them. I put one hand on Nancy’s left foot and the other on Jeff’s right foot. Coral appeared at Nancy’s head. Coral touched her rostrum to the top of Nancy’s head. At that moment, I felt a rush of electricity enter my hand that contacted Nancy’s foot, move up that arm to my spine about T4, burn momentarily, then move down my other arm to Jeff’s right foot. The electricity continued while Coral held her rostrum to Nancy’s head, several seconds. Then, Coral swam away and the electricity suddenly stopped.
Donna was floating way out in the pool and Cat was straining to keep one finger in touch with Donna. Ann was turning round and round. Nickey was floating out near them and Jeff was making clicking sounds to the Dolphins and they were answering him. Leslie said, “They were sweet to me. This was the first time. They nibbled at my fingers and kissed me. They talked to me. They told me “No surprises” and then they flipped me!”
Sally said “You carry that Dolphin energy with you. It sounds like so much less than it is. You carry it and everybody is a part of that.”
Suzie: “I was enormously moved by the Dolphin session this morning. I’ve always felt I’m a citizen of the world, but this morning, I felt an interspecies connection. It was a Sunday morning interspecies ceremony. It’s not enough to be a citizen of the world. We’re citizens of an interspecies globe.”
Ann: “The clicking sounds came straight down the middle, in the center of the top of my head, and straight down to my ancient brain. And I remembered. I saw the shore where we first came out of the water. Land animals separated from water. We have a knowing within us and we have to trust it. Not deny it. Not try and walk around it. I feel at ease and peace that I haven’t felt for a long, long time.”
Roger: “They were working harder on me the first two days, banging things where they wanted it to be. Then yesterday they got my body lined up. I felt one with them, like I’m part of the family, in thought. It was so much fun. I don’t know how to describe it.”
Nancy: “It was a beautiful experience, huh, Jeff. What do you think?”
Donna: “They were communicating with me. I felt I could talk with them. It was awesome.”
Ann: “I certainly felt a connection with before there was form. Energy. A deep stillness. I’m a big barrier person. A bubble. I’m better at receiving now.”