Practicing Ease: The Great Heart of a Whale
Everyone seems to be racing around these days. We rush to work, to class, to rehearsal, to stores, to worship, to attend meetings, to take our kids or grandkids here, there--maybe everywhere?
"What's the rush?"asks my husband. "Where are they going that one or two minutes will make that much difference?" For ultimately, that's about all the time we are saving.
Perhaps we are still trying to make up for the slower pace many of us were forced to keep during the pandemic? Maybe we are trying to do more than ever before? Here's an idea: maybe the planet has clandestinely sped up its rotation, or its revolution around the sun, and we're subconsciously trying to catch up? Fat chance.
Maybe the whales can help us slow down. Blue whales, specifically. The largest animals that have ever lived. Bigger even than the biggest dinosaurs. With a huge heart, weighing over 1,000 pounds. A great heart. A slow heart.
Some of the tinier animals in our world seem to have outrageously fast heartbeats: up to 1200 beats/minute for a hummingbird and 1500 beats/minute for the miniscule Etrucsan shrew. That's 20 and 25 beats per second, respectively. Hard to imagine.
The human heart at rest averages 60 - 100 beats/minute, though the average heart rate for a healthy baby in utero can run as high as 170 beats/minute by the 9th week of gestation, after which it begins to slow down.
But a blue whale? While they are on the surface they will average 30 - 37 beats/minute. But when they dive deep? It can slow down to 2 - 4 beats. Per minute. A.........whole.........different.........mode.........of.........being.
Imagine just for a moment slowing down to that pace. Perhaps you can let yourself drift with the whales into those slower depths.
Here's a Blue Whale heart rate audio from YouTube that might help you find that slower sense of ease.
"This heart rate sound profile during a dive was constructed using data from the first electrocardiogram recordings of a blue whale in the wild" by Jessica Kendall-Bar © 2022 This gives the range, from slowest to fastest during a dive.
If you want more info here's an interesting article about how they tapped in to the rhythm of these remarkable creatures.
And speaking of the power of slow beauty, here's a link to some recorded songs of the blue whale, from a Paul Winter Consort audio file.
And a video of these graceful giants swimming.
The name for this post came from a poem:
loosen your death grip on this very day.
Open to the atmosphere of open,
drink in large draughts of clear.
Hear the rain linger freely on your blessed face.
Breathe in the wreathes of a hero’s laughter,
for life is an enormous,
and very tender,
That dark cellar,
those cruel rememberings,
can be at rest for the day.
Rivers bubble gradually from springs
long before they go swaying through the wilderness.
Mountains green softly into hills over eons,
These are the rhythms of the great heart of a whale
were she to become a world.
This is the unheralded music, the slow rhyme,
waiting to be savored and held
in your loose and local fingers
this very day.
Dawn Elizabeth Hunt
Let us remember these majestic, deep-diving whales
as we make decisions about our oceans and our planet.
Until next time,
Blue whale, unknown
Hummingbird, Zdenek Machacek, unSplash
Blue whale tail, BlueWhaleStudy.com