I love the beach. Born and raised on Cape Cod, I can’t recall a time in my life when the ocean didn’t represent complete bliss for me. You know that tranquil, blessed feeling of peace that we find in sivasana or in meditation or in church? A reflective place where the world falls away and everything makes sense? It’s the moment where song lyrics are written, life decisions made, and sorrows dissolved. For me, more often than not, this moment has an ocean view.
Not too long ago (about three weeks and 20 degrees ago, to be exact), I spent a weekend at the beach, where I tried to surf for the first time. It just might be my new favorite activity! I also enjoyed one of my oldest, favorite activities: disappearing down a stretch of sand and walking until fellow beach goers transform from people, to specks, to solitude.
I walked for a long time, knowing that this makeshift pilgrimage would serve as the day’s yoga practice, and I relished every sandy step, snapping imaginary photos in my mind in attempts to preserve the perfection of each moment lapping right up against the next. I think my gait even acquired a skip at one point. Turning my face skyward, like a lizard seeking warmth, I thought "I don’t want to be anywhere else than where I am, right now." Then, rather abruptly, I realized I wasn’t alone.
Two massive dogs were playing in the ocean just a few yards away; maybe there were three. As I approached, I quickly realized that these were the largest black Labs I’d ever seen; then, just as quickly, I realized they weren’t dogs at all, but massive sea lions. At this, my jaunty, silly walk froze to a standstill. My jaw dropped, and I think I omitted some sort of noise, one of shock and excitement, tinged with a hint of fear. These sea lions were HUGE. And, seemingly multiplying…
When I counted seven, I thought, "An auspicious number for a magical event" but soon, there were nine. As I counted up to ten, I think I laughed out loud, looked around, and wondered where everyone was. How could they all be missing this? Why was this natural wonder happening to me, alone? Prior to that day, I’d never seen one sea lion, let alone a gaggle of them. Giddily, I counted the bellies of two more creatures, until finally topping the count at lucky number 13. Surely, it was a sign. Of what, I don’t know… Should I play the lottery? Heck, I felt like I had just won the lottery! I hoped the mental snapshots that I took would last forever.
So far, they’ve served me well. In the past two days, I’ve experienced several blessings so powerful that they brought my movements to a standstill and dropped my jaw in amazement. Some of these moments occurred at Global Mala on Sunday in recognition of the U.N. International Peace Day and in the presence of like-minded yogis and esteemed meditation teachers like Ek Ong Kar Singh and Lama Surya Das. Others happened today at a local hospital where I greeted a relative after she’d awaken from a long, complicated rest.
Somehow, the sea lions keep surfacing in my mind, as massive, playful blessings that I am thrilled to uncover. Only the sea lions numbered 13, and my blessings, I am still counting.