Many ancient cultures use the seal as a symbol of transition between two worlds- the world of the conscious mind and the constructs of human thinking and the sub- conscious world and the limitless essence of spirit without boundary or form.
This contrast was brought home to me when I was SCUBA diving on a particularly windy day in rough seas. The dive started from a rocky out- crop. The plan was to enter the water and drop below the turbulent waves as quickly as possible to avoid being tossed onto the sharp volcanic rock. Traditionally you do this by dumping the air in your stab- jacket through a valve. Alas, on this occasion the valve did not work all that well. As I desperately tried to become less buoyant the waves threw me against the rocks, cutting me and my equipment to shreds. My stress and anxiety mounted, my breathing rate soared, and my enjoyment plummeted as my ability to deal with the situation effectively, dropped.
Somehow I managed to get the air out of my stab- jacket and I descended from the stormy environment above into a tranquil haven below. My breathing slowed, serenity returned, calmness reigned and as the beauty of my surroundings overwhelmed me a seal swam by up- side- down in effortless ease as if to say “this is how it is meant to be- this is yours to enjoy if only you would come below the waves.”
The Ocean is a wonderful metaphor to explain the working of energy in Nature. The sub- conscious depths support the conscious surface layer. We are part of a whole- mostly we stay on the surface, living at the whim of external forces. The surface is calm only because there is no wind. The job is going well, we are enjoying good health, and we are surrounded by loved ones who love us in return. Once the wind blows the waves gather and toss us around. We are threatened with redundancy or financial insecurity; our relationships go through stresses and strains. We do what we can to stay afloat, to cope with the pressure of daily living, but we are at the mercy of events- we may think we are in control of our lives as we experience happiness during good times, but the anxiety and discontent we feel in choppy seas shows us we are not in control of things at the surface.
Only below the waves is there consistent calm and tranquillity. Only here can the constancy of the water offer us support throughout our lives regardless of events and circumstances.
Meditation can offer us a gateway into this sub- conscious realm. If we learn to enter this world a little we can enjoy its benefits and bring its wisdom to the surface as our awareness expands further into the truth. As we practise meditation more we may stay there longer if we wish and explore more fully the depths of the Ocean.
The wonder of SCUBA diving is the contrast between these two worlds. Enjoy both- the experience of one is made more profound and meaningful by the knowledge of the other. The conscious mind is most effective when it is calm- it provides an analytical and organisational quality to living that is effective only with clarity and understanding. The wisdom of the sub- conscious is always there- sometimes it bursts through into the consciousness in inspiration like a whale or seal breaking the water surface, but we can also delve into the depths and find answers. The more we practise the more easily we access the wisdom deep within us.