adventure begins in Denver - his anticipation about swimming with
dolphins so high, his body wouldn’t be still. But then, Jeremy
is never still, his body and his mind always racing, always in motion.
Jeremy is bipolar, autistic and has multiple learning disabilities,
but ultimately, the names of his challenges don’t matter.
The effects of his disabilities matter constantly.
Jeremy’s first glimpse of the world was before his head fully
emerged from the birth canal. Only part of his face exposed, he
opened his eyes and began to look around the room – something
the nurse midwives exclaimed they had never witnessed before. Jeremy
definitely entered the world in his own unique way and his presence
would change many lives forever.
Rebecca and Brian knew something was different about their son
by the time he was one and a half years old. The constant nonsense
noises and incoherent speech, mood swings, and constant motion made
them aware something was not quite right. So their lives began an
unexpected path of doctors, appointments, therapy sessions, multiple
drugs in different combinations, trying new treatments – all
with hopes and prayers to find answers and help to cope with the
daily activities of life.
From that point until age 11, Jeremy, Rebecca, and Brian lived
day to day, sometimes hour to hour, in as normal a way as they could
imagine. Jeremy’s mother knew of my trips to Mexico taking
groups of people to swim with dolphins. And she had heard that autistic
children often experience changes after swimming with dolphins.
The universe was listening as in one conversation with Macy Jozsef,
founder of Living From the Heart; the decision was made to sponsor
a trip for Jeremy in June 2003.
New experiences and transitions are very difficult for kids like
Jeremy, and two new things needed to happen for Jeremy to swim with
dolphins in Mexico. He needed to get on an airplane and he needed
to learn how to swim. With multiple sensory hypersensitivities,
Jeremy had never liked the water. The feel of it on his face overloaded
his sensory system, and simple activities like taking a bath were
usually a major ordeal. Rebecca signed Jeremy up for swim lessons
at the Mapleton Rehabilitation Center. Voluntarily getting into
a swimming pool was not an easy challenge for Jeremy, but one that
he accepted as he understood the reward of being with a dolphin.
Multiple times in those months, he did not want to get into the
water, but he did it anyway, and he learned to swim.
June 10, 2003 finally came, and Jeremy was filled with many emotions,
not the least of which was fear. He got onto an airplane with a
large group of people, knowing he would get off that airplane in
a different country. But he always enjoyed learning about different
cultures and language, and he thought about experiencing those things
in real life instead of just looking at pictures in books.
There were seven others in the group – two chiropractors,
two retired schoolteachers, a reflexologist and her daughter, and
Macy Jozsef. June 12 was the day of our first dolphin swim. The
group was up early with anticipation of the day. After breakfast,
we did a healing circle in the pool – a practice session for
Jeremy before going to Dolphin Adventure. We took turns being in
the middle of the circle, then Jeremy took his place. In the hands
of mom and dad, and both chiropractors, we all supported him and
loved him. He generally did not like to be touched or be the center
of attention, but he was able to allow a small amount of craniosacral
work. We finished with a prayer circle. The feeling of love and
connection was powerful among the ten of us.
Before entering the dolphin pool, Jeremy asked the trainer, Ricky,
how deep the water was. Ricky answered, “about 18 feet.”
With complete trust, Jeremy said, “Okay,” and slowly
entered the cold, deep water. We were with three dolphins: Amiscle,
Tinda, and Aclina. Amiscle is a 600-pound male dolphin, and Jeremy
had an instant sense of trust with him. This instant connection
seemed to calm Jeremy and help him ease into the entire experience.
Dolphins respond to each person in a different way. With some,
they are playful and powerful—moving quickly through the water.
With those people who they sense are afraid or anxious, they move
very slowly and purposefully. Especially children. Dolphins know
how enormous they are, and are extra gentle and slow with kids.
They roll over onto their backs, flap their pectoral fins lightly
as if to say “come play with me.” Around kids with challenges
(physical and mental), there is an entirely different kind of connection
between them. And there was no exception with Jeremy. It didn’t
take long for Jeremy to have a huge smile on his face, and the magic
began. He played with the dolphins, stroked them, fed Amiscle large
handfuls of squid, laughed out loud, and when it was time, he held
on to their pec fins and went for a ride. The Mapleton Rehab pool
already seemed to be in the distant past.
Immediately following that first swim, Jeremy was much calmer,
spoke more softly, didn’t chew his fingers, and had relatively
normal conversations with the other people in the group. His physiology
even shifted. Normally, he would go into a “blood sugar crash”
every two hours if he did not eat. When lunch was delayed unexpectedly,
Jeremy continued to sit calmly, talk with people, and play games.
Rebecca and Brian expressed their amazement at the difference in
That night, and each night thereafter, Jeremy began to journal
with the help of one of the schoolteachers. Normal writing for Jeremy
up to that point was a “scrawl” that neither of his
parents could decipher, and the content challenging to understand.
He began to write complete sentences. His penmanship improved dramatically.
By the end of the week, he had composed an entire page, complete
with pictures, that was legible and understandable! Rebecca has
a word for this transformation, and that word is miracle. We all
witnessed something Jeremy had never achieved in his life up to
We had a total of three days of dolphin swims and special encounters
which involved therapists working on Jeremy in the water with one
dolphin. It didn’t take long for Jeremy to feel totally comfortable
in the dolphins’ world – swimming, playing, and riding
on them. In the encounter pool, Jeremy would lie back in the arms
of the chiropractors and therapists, and allow the dolphin to touch
him and swim around him. It has been documented that being in the
water with dolphins changes brain wave levels from a beta state
to an alpha state, which promotes a deep state of relaxation. Jeremy’s
original neurofeedback studies showed that he functioned in a “high
beta” state, keeping him constantly in motion and thought.
It was apparent from his first encounter that his brain wave levels
had changed. He was able to feel his mind literally relax. All watched
in amazement as his behavior shifted throughout each day.
Jeremy’s incredible dolphin adventure encompassed so much
more – a boat journey out into the ocean, meeting many new
friends, boisterous singing and laughing, swimming in the ocean
and getting smacked in the face by waves (and loving it!). And most
of all, there was love, connection, and respect from each person
in the group, bonded by a caring to help and support this amazing,
courageous young man as he continues on his journey in life.
And to begin the next chapter in Jeremy’s life, mom Rebecca
writes: “I am amazed, grateful, and speechless. This is the
best Jeremy has ever been in his short life. A calmness, more clear
focus, better insight. The magic of the dolphins is still with him,
thus with us. I feel like a miracle has happened for us….and
boy did we need one. I was truly at my wits end. So partially due
to your help and love, our family is healing and getting better
and better. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but
I trust the right thing will happen for us. So again, deepfelt thanks
to all the many loving people who made this trip possible, thank
you from the bottom of our hearts for helping with all our different
levels of healing. Your generosity and compassion and love are truly
As of this writing (in May 2004), Jeremy has continued to improve
in many functional aspects of his life. He is able to get himself
up and organized in the morning, bathe without fight and distress,
have a pleasant breakfast, and leave for school. His family has
gained at least an hour back each day, and time together that is
peaceful and loving. His teachers are amazed at his progress. For
the first time ever, he has started to work at his grade level,
improving from a second grade reading level to sixth! He has appropriate
organizational skills, and there are seldom outbursts or self-destructive
His neurofeedback studies show that he is functioning more consistently
in an alpha brainwave state, which enables him to stay more relaxed,
calm, and focused. Jeremy continues to have a unique way of seeing
and understanding the world, and his being more functional has allowed
his special qualities to shine through. All who knew Jeremy before
and know him now, agree that truly a miracle occurred.
||Mary G. Elsea, author
of this article, practices chiropractic at South Boulder Chiropractic
in Boulder, Colo. (www.southboulderchiropractic.com).
She takes part in healing journeys to swim with the dolphins
each year at Dolphin Adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mary
has been fascinated with dolphins since her childhood summers
in Virginia Beach, Va., where she searched the Atlantic for
fins from dawn to dusk. She swam out into the sea, but never
got close to a dolphin until a 1990 trip to Hawaii. Not long
after that, synchronicity connected her with Macy Jozsef of
Living From the Heart (www.livingfromtheheart.org),
a non-profit organization co-founded by Macy and her late husband,
Dr. Stephen Jozsef, pioneers in dolphin-assisted therapy.
Dr. Elsea discussed for this article how dolphins help not only
Jeremy, but also heal many people suffering chronic illness
or injury. In 1985, a Chinese study of chi kung masters and
ordinary people found that the chi kung healers emitted alpha
frequencies of 8 to 14 hertz. When dolphins scan people swimming
with them, their sonar emits the same alpha bandwidth of frequencies,
which, according to the Chinese study, actually vibrates the
cells of the body. This rapid cellular vibration helps reduce
inflammation and stimulates the release of endorphins and other
painkilling substances. Dolphins are living wonders in their
ability to love and heal people who are open enough to receive
their healing energies.
|Mary Elsea met her first
dolphin in Hawaii a decade ago.