My Sacrificial Cenote (Near) Death Dive (And The Power of “Intentional Peace”) by Val Jon Farris


The dive team carefully reviews the diagram of the cenote’s complex interior. We’re about to embark on deadly dive into a myriad of caves and black water chambers, where sacrificial bones of the ancient Mayans lay undisturbed for centuries. Little do I realize that within a few moments I would be facing a similar sacrificial fate.

. . . The last of the submerged tunnels open into a massive circular pool of pitch-black water, and just as we are about to descend together, my buoyancy compensator fails and fills with water. Unable to compensate, I begin free-falling into the blackness below. I try to slow my descent by removing my weight belt but keep falling. Looking up, the flashlights of my fellow divers fade to black. The extreme pressure of dropping rapidly nearly sucks my eyeballs out of their sockets, and I desperately try to equalize my mask, but the intense blast of incoming water dislodges it from my face and knocks the regulator out of my mouth.

Groping for air, first my fins, then my knees slam into the cenote floor, the resting place where the bones of the dead lay. The lack of oxygen now burning my chest compels me to heave and panic. My mind races. . . “Maybe I can make it to the surface if I dump my tanks . . . not a chance VJ, it’s over a hundred feet above and you’ll drown before you even reach the tunnels.” Time stops and my life flashes before my eyes . . . and what I see stuns me to the core. The images are not of all my wild adventures, the wealth of my life experiences, or the lessons I’ve learned or taught. Rather, they are of everyone I’ve ever loved or been loved by, a deeply moving mosaic of the tenderness and kindness we shared. They are not images of those who’ve wronged or hurt me, or of the hardships I’ve overcome. Rather, they are of those I’ve forgiven, those I’ve humbled myself before and shared my vulnerability with. And they are not images of what I’ve accomplished, attained, or gained. Rather, of what I have given, shared, and contributed.

In a paradoxical moment of unconditional fulfillment and uncontrolled terror, I choose to relax my body and surrender to my fate. If I am to survive, I must set my energy-draining panic aside and conserve whatever oxygen is left in my body until I can find my regulator and/or the dive team comes to my rescue. In perhaps the longest minute of my life, both happened. Giving myself just a few moments of intentional peace, I bought myself enough time to escape a sacrificial end. The moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of surrender as it’s by far your truest inner savior. ~

[This scuba dive was videotaped! Watch it unfold here:]

Val Jon Farris is an award-winning author and leadership consultant to Fortune 100 companies around the world. For over thirty years he has championed large-scale workforce transformations as well as delivered keynote addresses and personal growth programs to over forty thousand people globally. Val Jon is well-known for his warm anecdotal style and deep insight into the nature of the human psyche and its higher faculties of self-awareness and consciousness. His second book, Travelers Within: Journeys Into Being Human And Beyond is now available on
He can also be reached at: and by email at

One Comment on “My Sacrificial Cenote (Near) Death Dive (And The Power of “Intentional Peace”) by Val Jon Farris

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