The divine healer Writer Christine Yeung
Whenever I need peace, I return to the sea. I have a deep connection with remote islands, as if I have lived underwater for millions of years. Its mysterious aura heals me, like a gentle breeze passing over my over-analytical mind. I become still. In difficult times, I realise our life flows like water. If you ease into it, the journey can be as smooth as a flowing river.
Perhaps we feel nostalgic by the sea because 70 per cent of our bodies are comprised of it. How we look, touch and consume water can affect our well-being. People recognised its spiritual power long ago, worshipping it in ancient India, where they consider rivers to be a mother figure.
Dr Masaru Emoto of Japan discovered that the crystalline structure of water changes when exposed to different prayers, words, music and environments. When the music of Beethoven and Mozart was played, water responded to the vibration by transforming its crystals into the shape of flowers or diamonds. If we think of ourselves as water, or energy, it can have a powerful impact on our thinking and emotions. “When we see water in anger, it becomes poisonous. When we are happy, it tastes better,” says Naveen Meghwel, yoga teacher, counsellor, therapist and director of Ananda Yoga.
“Water is a living computer – a liquid gadget, which carries our memories and emotions. That’s why it has been used for spiritual healing.” Water has been treated as holy in many ancient rituals. In Hindu temples, people offer water with herbs in a small copper pot and chant mantras towards the deity. When they divert positive vibrations in the name of Buddha, Jesus or Krishna with mantras, it becomes ‘healing’ water. In India, some keep water in copper pots and project positive vibrations on it to enhance spiritual growth. They leave water overnight, so that it becomes energised, and consumed the next morning to purify the body.
The nature of water is cooling, used in yogic cleansing techniques to prepare the body for spiritual practices. “Clean the body before yoga,” says Meghwel. When we adopt yogic cleansing techniques like Jala neti (nasal cleansing), Vaman dhauti (stomach cleansing), Basti (colon cleansing) and Shankhaprakshalana (digestive track cleansing), we remove the toxins to prepare for asana, pranayamas, chanting and meditation.
People observed the power of water in ancient times through various rituals. Water removes parts that do not belong to us and allow us to meditate more deeply. Even the simple act of sipping can be healing if we are present. “When you drink the water, you should be very mindful. It helps you to become more healthy and spiritual. If you are very calm when consuming water, it starts healing your body,” says Meghwal.
“Water is a living computer – a liquid gadget which carries our memories and emotions. That’s why it has been used for spiritual healing ”
~ Naveen Meghwel
Water is always around. I don’t have to fly to Mauritius to see the azure blue sea. The tea I drank this morning contains rain that nourishes green fields; the sky there is filled with evaporated particles from the sea; even the air I breathe contains some of its vapour. I am connected with my origin again.
As one of the five elements of Ayurveda, apa, the Sanskrit word for water, cleanses body, mind and soul. When the water element in our body is balanced, our lives are enhanced. The main purpose of water is transportation, its fluidity carries us to a better state of mind. I let the river flow smoothly within me by practising water meditation: I close my eyes and visualise a balmy beach, or diving underwater with a deep relaxed breath.
Looking at water can be calming. A study by Dr Dominic Fernandez and Professor Arnold Wilkins at the University of Essex reveals that aquatic environments like rivers, lakes and coasts, and even manmade environments are good for our well-being because of its aesthetic: water reflects light in lines and patterns that are restorative.
Close your eyes. Let your mind be quiet. Imagine yourself sitting by the sea at dusk. Feel the waves curling and lapping at the shore. Water sounds change the energy vibration in our body and settle us. They lower our brainwaves frequencies, taking us to a meditative state. When we sit in front of the sea, the sounds around us allow creativity to flow, bringing us into the theta brain state.
The soothing ocean is often used in therapy for its incomplete waveform. Rivers, streams and waterfalls are sounds that can break up stuck energy and emotions, which are frequencies looping in the brain, according to David Gibson, founder and director of the Global Sound and Consciousness Institute and author of the Complete Guide to Sound Healing.
Due to its frequency, rhythm and chi, the sound of water transforms us in positive ways. “Randomness of the beat of waves helps activate our mind and body by creating new information and neural pathways, whereas water sounds help remove emotional blockages,” says Gibson. If you are not close to the sea, try listening through headphones, or simply imagine standing under a waterfall and feeling its power.
“Slowing down the breath equates to slowing down thoughts. The spaces in the cycle of breath equate to having time to solve problems we may have in life”
~ Camella Nair
The healing power of water was discovered in the Victorian-era when cold baths were used to treat depression. They are a great medium for restorative practices like pranayama and energy control. “Water helps to neutralise our emotions so that we don’t react to life and circumstances. It becomes a ritual as old as time, whether one is taking a bath or soaking in the Ganges, and has a deep spiritual connection to enlightenment,” says Camella Nair, swami, yoga teacher and the author of Aqua Kriya Yoga.
Aqua yoga is ideal for finding balance on physiological, psychological and emotional levels. The properties of water can deepen our practice, its buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure lengthening our spine and taking stress away from bones and joints. Practitioners reveal that water helps refine their postures. “Students can gain benefits over shorter periods of time in the water than on land. Ease of movement and a medium to slow down erroneous breathing patterns is what yoga offers those who love water,” says Nair.
I remember my first scuba diving experience in the Indian Ocean. As I breathed through the regulator in the deep blue sea, the sound of my breath was clear and powerful. My body and mind relaxed. I was like a happy fish in a gigantic aquarium.
Breathing practice in the water, like snorkelling, can benefit those with respiratory issues and anxiety. “Slowing down the breath equates to slowing down thoughts. The spaces in the cycle of breath equate to having time to solve problems we may have in life. My guru taught me that a problem is only the inability to think of the solution,” says Nair.
Every time we are in touch with water, it is a new opportunity to practise. Let water heal you and the rhythm of its waves guide you. You are water: you can change your form in different circumstances. Return to the river flowing within and peace will come back to you. May we find solace in water.