"Dolphins have a universal appeal, symbolizing freedom, joy, grace and serenity , uplifting the spirits of many people all around the world"
For the last decade dolphin therapy has been largely publicized by the media, who reported several successful case stories. Dolphin therapy was started in the early seventies by Dr Betsy Smith, an educational anthropologist who noticed the therapeutical effects of dolphins on her disabled brother. A few years later dolphin therapy was developed by Dr Nathanson at the Dolphin Human Therapy centre in Florida, America. Dr Nathanson studied the interaction between dolphins and children with Down's syndrome and as he obtained good results more centres opened world wide.
The aim of the therapy is to increase sensory activities, programmes take place in a pool with captive or semi-captive dolphins and therapists who assist the children, children are asked to swim, touch, feed or pat the animals. Therapists work on specific areas such as speech, behaviors and motor skills, they customize programmes to the needs of the children.
Dolphin therapy is not a cure but it can help alleviate some symptoms associated with children conditions by enhancing their healing process. Samples of blood were analyzed before and after the therapy, results showed that after swimming with dolphins there is a change of hormones, endorphins and enzymes as well as T-cells, how this is possible is still not well understood. There is ongoing research in universities and dolphin research centres but the evidence that dolphin therapy works remains anecdotal. Several theories have been hypothesized:
Therapy in a pleasant environment:
Encounters with dolphins evoke a deep emotional response and trigger the release of deep feelings and emotions. It is believed that children are more responsive to the therapy because they play in a pleasant environment, they are motivated to complete the tasks, they are happy and therefore they pay greater attention to the therapists' work. It has also been suggested that dolphins can sense areas of disability and physical trauma in the human body, they motivate children to use these parts.
For others, the healing principle is similar to that of sound therapy: rhythm and vibrational sound facilitate an altered mood. According to Dr Cole, Chairman of the Aquathought Foundation, swimming with dolphins can create physiological cell and tissue change in the body, he explains that dolphins have a natural sonar, they emit ultrasound waves to localize things and to communicate, this process is called "echolocation". Sounds emitted by the dolphins are so intense that that they can cause "cavitations": they create holes in the molecular structure of fluids and soft tissues. Cole believes that the dolphins' signal frequencies can have a profound effect on the human brain by modifying the brainwave activity. Results of EEG tests carried out on people who experienced the echolocation showed that the dominant human brain frequency drops from beta to alpha.
It was also noted that both sides of the brain enter into synchronization which means there is a far better communication between the left and right sides of the brain, this is an uncommon neurological state, which is typically associated with heightened awareness and increased learning ability.
Dolphins appear to facilitate healing through mechanisms not readily reconciled with modern medical precepts. People frequently report that they become euphoric after swimming with these loving, graceful, and joyous creatures. In turn, an uplifted spirit seems to infuse beneficial healing effects into the mind and body. Numerous people who have serious illnesses and depression have reported dramatic, long-term, favorable changes in their emotional state.
Scientists now know that these emotional changes (which last much longer than the "high" experienced from the release of endorphins, the body's natural opiates) can initiate a cascade of health-enhancing hormonal and physiological changes. Children with a variety of developmental disabilities have shown remarkable improvements after dolphin-assisted therapy. Learning, cognitive abilities, concentration, communication, and ability to relate to others all improve.
In addition to possessing a direct therapeutic effect, dolphins appear to enhance other therapies. For example, the Upledger Institute recently treated individuals with a variety of disorders with dolphin-assisted, craniosacral therapy. The therapy was completed in the water with, and in near proximity to, the dolphins. Many beneficial effects were observed beyond levels normally realized, including pain reduction, increased ease in breathing, muscle relaxation, enhanced strength and flexibility, increased appetite, and better sleep.
Furthermore, the dolphin's sonar echolocation apparently reduced various tissue restrictions, including adhesions resulting from past surgeries, scarring, or trauma. Based on these positive results, the Upledger Institute is in the process of establishing an ongoing dolphin-assisted, craniosacral therapy program.
How Dolphins Heal:
Although no one really knows how and to what degree dolphins heal, a number of both scientific and intuitive speculations have been put forth.
Sound and Vibration: Scientists believe that the dolphins ultrasound emissions have considerable healing potential from an energy and informational perspective. Clinically, ultrasound has been used to promote healing, for diagnostic imaging, and to destroy cataracts and kidney and gallstones. Throughout history, sound - such as music, drumming and chanting - has been used to promote health. Physiologically, we now know that these sounds can influence heart rate, breathing, muscle contractions, memory, and immune function. In terms of energy, the dolphins ultrasound blast is four times stronger than therapeutically used in hospitals.
Furthermore, this blast is delivered through water, which is 60 times more efficient than air for sound transference, to a body that is three-quarters fluid. It is believed that ultrasound resonance within the cerebrospinal fluid is especially important due to the fluids key influence on the brain and spinal cord.
Brain Waves: Dr. David Cole of the Aquathought Foundation has shown that human brain waves shift from high-frequency beta to low-frequency theta waves after a dolphin encounter. Beta waves are associated with increased concentration, alertness, and enhanced memory function. In contrast, theta waves are associated with enhanced creativity, sensory integration, and altered states of consciousness. For the sake of reference, people exhibit theta waves in the fleeting moments when they drift from consciousness into sleep.
Scientists believe that a brain-wave shift of this nature strengthens the human immune system. Furthermore, after a dolphin encounter, research has shown a synchronization of brain-wave activity between the logical, analytical left brain and the intuitive, imaginative right brain. These brain-wave alterations may explain why people view swimming with the dolphins as a transcendental experience.
Dr. Cole speculates that these brain-wave alterations are facilitated by sonar-induced cavitation. Basically, the dolphins intense sound waves create alternating regions of compression and expansion that form small bubbles in the cell membrane. In turn, these bubbles facilitate the transport of key neurological molecules from outside to inside neurons.
Human Energy Fields: Scientists also speculate that the dolphins therapeutic energy is mediated through human energy fields. According to human energy field theory (see Infinite Mind, Dr.. Valerie Hunt, Malibu Publishing Co, 1996), disease has its origins in the energy field at an atomic level, which then progressively manifests in the molecular, cellular and body-system levels. Conversely, if the energy field is fixed, healing will progress to the physical body. The human energy field responds to stimulus, such as sound, even when the person experiences no conscious awareness of the stimulus and before changes are noted in physiological parameters such as brain waves, blood pressure, etc. Because it is theorized that the effects of spinal cord injury are stored in these energy fields, mending the human energy field first will promote the bodies healing.
According to speculation, dolphins can sense human-energy-field imbalances and adjust their ultrasonic emanations. &The dolphins powerful energy may initiate an appropriate alteration in the human electromagnetic field, which, in turn, will facilitate healing.
Intuitive Perspective: Elan O'Brien, who became a spiritual healer after a transformational experience with the dolphins, says these animals energy represents an alignment with a greater consciousness. According to O'Brien, the human nervous system programming usually prevents us from realizing that alignment and expressing the natural order. Dolphins, through their sonar and mudra-like movements, can shift our programming patterns by changing the body's electromagnetic fields. As a result, the body's limited belief structures are opened and changed.
In conclusion, in spite of these speculations, no one truly knows how dolphins mediate their healing. Is it merely a psychosomatic, feel-good effect? Or does it represent some unknown healing mechanism that is beyond our traditional perspectives of medicine? Clearly, enough evidence suggests it is worthy of further investigation. However, it remains to be seen whether mankind can set aside biases of superiority to co-create new knowledge with the dolphins.
In alternative medicine circles, dolphins have been cited as having special capabilities that enhance healing potential in people with a physical disability, including spinal cord injury and dysfunction.
Throughout the ages, man has had a special fascination with dolphins. This relationship continues to be acknowledged today by many diverse sources. Dr. John Lilly determined in his studies of the human brain and interspecies communication possibilities that man may rank behind the dolphin in terms of cerebral development as measurable in mammals. The U.S. Navy has also recognized the dolphins intelligence capabilities and has been using them for highly specialized missions for over 20 years.
Even ancient cultures speak of connective links to the dolphins. One such culture existing to this day is an Australian aborigine tribe known as the Dolphin People. They believe their ancestors were the souls of dolphins who were slaughtered by sharks and then reborn as the first humans.
Science's challenge is to view all information from all sources - not as an obscuring veil - but as insights pointing to truths.
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