Special Feature The Liquid Body Body of Life: water is our great sustainer
The nature of Water WATER, the transparent fluid that consists of hydrogen and oxygen, is the liquid state of matter whose characteristic attribute is flux; it is matter seething with creative energy and vitality. Water is motion; it epitomises movement, it is made to move and change like energy to assist the soul in continually evolving and growing. Water flows the path of least resistance, gathering power and momentum as it flows. A key property of water is its formlessness and ability to provide cohesion for other elements. It can shape dry, dusty earth to become a pliable form and is receptive, adopting the shapes of that which it encounters. It absorbs and dissolves, to become a vehicle for transportation, the carrier of matter and life force. In the liquid state it fills the rivers, lakes, brooks and seas of the world, in solid form it freezes to ice and when heated water changes to steam.
Water as the Great Beginning Water is the source of life and the fundamental element of everything on the earth. Water as the great purifier has played a central role in spiritual belief systems throughout the world. A Hopi creation myth start: “In the beginning, the earth was nothing but water.” Water symbolises the spiritual rebirth; consider baptism, holy water and other ritual uses of water to wash away our sins and cleanse our wounds. Jesus said: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Human life begins in water and the movement of the child in the amniotic fluid has stamped itself in the human subconsciousness. Within and without our body is a river of change to which human consciousness must learn to surrender. In the dream world, water is a symbol of the unconscious psychic energy and has more meanings than any other symbol.
We are water – the essence of all forms yet formless Second to oxygen, water is essential for our survival. Think about it, we are mostly made up of liquids; blood, (arterial and venous), lymph fluid, interstitial fluid, synovial fluid, cellular fluid, and not to exclude the specific periorgan and cerebrospinal fluid. When we were born our bodies are composed of up to 70 per cent fluid. Unsurprisingly, considering the primordial sea from which we have ascended, the waters that still persist within our physical body have a composition not dissimilar to salty oceanic water. With the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, we too are pulled by moon in its to and fro dance of dark and light, in a dualistic rhythmic motion.
The body’s oceanic source The interstitial fluid is the wellspring source for all the other bodily fluids. This primary liquid is a matrix of water with collagen fibre bundles, which are tiny proteoglycan filaments that suspends and surrounds every cell to provide tissue with firmness and strength. The gel-like interstitial fluid is capable of transporting oxygen with nutrients very quickly like water. It gushes, streams, pulses and trickles through the body, transversing thin membranes to transform into blood, lymph, cellular and other fluids. Water is the central source of our beings, a part of every cell and fibre in us; it is our very essence. The same amount of water that has been on the earth for millions of years is the great connector, weaving us all (earth, animal, human, and plant) together as one. It carries with it so many entrained messages, from nature and our ancestors.
The fluids that ooze inside you Basically the human body is a vessel for the copious specific liquids to sustain its life. Blood vessels, the hollow tubes that circulate your blood, can reach 161km long in an adult. Found in every part of the body (except the central nervous system) are the lymph vessels, an extensive drainage system that shifts waste; returning water and proteins from various tissues back to the bloodstream. This is a slower moving stream reliant on breath and contraction of skeletal muscle, while peristalsis moves the digestive juices through spaghetti of lengthy tubes. Other liquid waste from the body includes urine, sweat, spit, mucous. Let us not forget sexual ejaculatory juices such as semen and the two female liquids, milk and menstrual fluid that both define a woman’s intrinsic creativity and arises from the sacral Chakra, which is definitely yin. Then there are the lesser-known liquids such as: serum (The blood plasma without the clotting agents), saliva, a digestive antibacterial which is 99.5 per cent water, carries chemical enzymes to taste receptor cells. Remember bitter bile, secreted by the liver, to aid digestion and emulsify fats and aqueous humour that brings nutrients to the eye lens. What about vitreous humour the gelatinous goop in the eyeball and endolymph, the fluid in your inner ear for balance or cerumen that is earwax and sebum secreted by sebaceous glands?
The rivers of life An aerial earth landscape of the river systems with its streams and pools is not unlike an anatomical view of the human body’s circulatory and drainage network. All of embodied life is a matter of flow. Life is only possible when substances and energies can continually and adroitly find their way into and out of living organisms. When the flow is impeded or blocked, the being/environment becomes ill. All aspects of being from the individual to the families, societies and cultures, rely on healthy flow being well channelled for vitality. From inner to outer and outer to inner, the path between the worlds is woven through us.
The flow of Prana – our life force Nature has created canal systems within the body to route our intakes and outputs on every level of existence. As a vessel for spirit you carry the precious flow within you; 72,000 nadis or channels carry Prana or vital force within the body. All flows in all parts of the body interact with and influence one another. Whenever the mind flows, there will be Prana (life force) directing prana to the limbs, or organs, you will find your mind there too. Mind is subtler than prana, and its influence on prana is significant.
Stop the stagnation When our fluids stop flowing, from which our dreams and fantasies are born, we lose fluidity and become rigid in body and mind, our creativity dries up and our inner landscape becomes barren. If we are too fluid, with no restraint we might descend too deeply into the world of fantasy that is never brought into the light of this world. When we retain our feelings, water is also retained in the body, creating puffiness and oedema. The last century has seen massive pollution if not desecration of the earth’s water sources, from our own hand. It is our spiritual obligation to be water's caretaker and bring it back into balance.
Sustaining the juiciness In order to lead the juicy life, whereby we are established in our selves, we must become aware and cultivate our sense of life flow. If we can maintain healthy free circulation of fluid in our body, we can maintain more of the juiciness of youth as we age. Once you have felt a sense of your fluid body, the grounded skeletal scaffolding of the bones can learn to be less mechanical and dry in its movements and enjoy its soft sweet suspension within the fluids. We are fluid and must see and feel ourselves to be the moist, pliable mediums that we are, rather than solid unchangeable statues that will inevitably become hardened and rigid with a fixed identity. Float on the stream of breath, just flow where the current carries you.
-Cassandra Menard (Tinderbox founder)
Resisting rigidity We should not believe it is a foregone conclusion to lose our fluidity as we age; even if we do actually lose some fluid content. We can choose to live in the watery element of ourselves to prevent our movement becoming dry, brittle, disconnected and fragmented. Premature stiffness and immobility may be witnessed amongst the young in modern culture, which could be seen as a denial of our fluidic support system within. It is important to support the fluids in action to move with grace into smooth, seamless transitions. How liberating it is to move without rigidity, flowing, undulating and gliding with each movement connected to the next.
Channelling your inner fish It is an interesting meditation to tune into the fluid body and become aware of how all the water systems within can flow unobstructed and rhythmically to nature’s tune. Imagine yourself as a body of water encapsulated by your skin. Feel the buoyant softness of this internal ocean with its intrinsic tides. Each type of liquid flows differently, to perform its own function, expressing consciousness within the body. Arterial blood pumps and pulses with vibrant earthiness, cerebrospinal fluid persistently and subtly floods around the brain and spinal cord, lubricating and protecting. Slippery synovial fluid oozes between the joints, sustaining their mobility. Periorgan fluid sloshes in the abdominal cavity, keeping our organs afloat and suspended without sticking to intestinal walls, while silent cellular fluid pools serenely within the cells, maintaining a deep inner calm.
Svadisthana – abode of the vital force The second chakra of the human energetic system is Svadisthana, the representative of the fluid body. This energy centre, located at the lumbosacral junction, behind the base of the spine is governed by the element of water and it is the dwelling of our emotional world, creativity and sexuality. When we activate this chakra we increase flow, ease and circulation to enhance smooth transitions, lubrication, buoyancy and fun. Yes, this is the sweet abode of the vital-force, where our emotions are stirred in ways that have physical expression, opening us to sensations of pleasure and physical control. This is the centre of physical procreation and the chakra directly affecting sexual maturation. It controls our appetites for food, sex and pleasure.
The mobilising vital force A plant starts as a seed embedded within the stable solidity of earth; dormant, waiting for water to mobilise its vital force. This is the creative, procreative water energy we are talking about, the potent power of change - enough to burst through the earth structure to grow before the next alchemical stage of evolution when the nutrients must then be assimilated. Movement is necessary to get the process of transformation started, from solid earth (holding on and structure) to infinite consciousness. For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river, unbearable pain becomes its own cure.
Let go and create flow to stay whole The ability to change and adapt is a quality of fluid embodiment; a person with a fluid nature can adapt to change or unfamiliar, unexpected situations with ease. If we expect life to turn out a certain way, and are met by the inevitable delays and changes of plan, we too often react by fixing, defining and defending our version of reality. This lack of adaptability creates unease within and amongst those around us, whereby our health and relationship suffers. The less boundaries that exist within us, the more freely will our consciousness, our mind, our prana and the substances within the body be able to flow. The better we can awaken our awareness, the better we will flow through life and the more health will accrue to us.
Our Watery Emotions We are emotional beings and it is in the fluid body that our emotions live, washing through us expressing our deepest fears, desires and motives, heaving and swelling with an oceanic force of their own. We can drown in our emotions or become consciously aware of their watery presence, and just allow them to flow through us, without letting them engulf us in their torrent. Our tears taste of the sea, salty and primordial and their release can free us of considerable emotional burden because they are our body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration. Emotional tears’ heal the heart There is sacredness in tears and it is wise to let them flow to purify stress and negativity. Emotional tears have special health benefits, as biochemist and ‘tear expert’ Dr William Frey, from Minneapolis, discovered. Interestingly, reflex tears, which are protective and lubricating, are 98 per cent water, whereas emotional tears are more complex containing stress hormones that get excreted from the body through crying. Research has shown how emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins, which accumulate during stress and that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and ‘feel-good’ hormones. Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem persists. Travel far enough into sorrow, tears turning to sighing, in this way we learn how water can die into air.
The juicy life of sensual pleasure Pleasure and sensation are essential features of the sacral chakra, which functions best when there are optimal conditions for joy and relaxation. Sweetness is the emotion that everyone pursues, whether they are aware of it or not. When your internal space is filled with sweet juice, it attracts external sweetness to it and life’s harmonies multiply. Sexuality is a resolution and celebration of our humanity; we wouldn’t be here without it. A wholesome, active sexual life keeps the second chakra open with a healthy flow of energy though the whole body and mind. This means that both sexual repression and sexual excess do not serve us well; abuse of our life force depletes our vital energy and leaves us open to disease and emotional unbalance.
No one is an island The first chakra grounds us in the earth element with a consciousness of unity, but when we rise to the second chakra we move from the feeling of unity to the realisation of difference. The understanding of self now includes an awareness of the other. To grow and overcome our separateness, we seek union with another whereupon desire arises and with it our emotions and sexuality. We learn to enjoy the simple flow and cohesive flavour of the water element through relationship, connecting with others without losing our identity. Life is all about relationship; all humans are dependant on food, light, sound, love and other ‘nutrients’ that flow into them from external sources. We have many relationships, not just the inter-personal, but also with the environment, on the mental and emotional level to society and on the spiritual level, where our soul relates to nature and reality.
Become a master plumber to the body’s water works Judicious use of herbs, essential oils, yoga and other wholesome living practices can make us master plumbers to improve the irrigation of our water works to keep our body healthy: • Cultivate a respectful awareness and gratitude for water • Meditate on the sacral centre of the body, imagining a sense of spaciousness and openness in this region. Let the flow of breath flood the area with love and light, releasing all tension and unease. Feel that you have sufficient vitality to move forward in life, doing what you love and enjoying the unfolding process. • Immerse yourself in nature’s water: sea, rivers, lakes - swim, surf and play • Enjoy therapeutic baths regularly • Hydrate by drinking more pure water, imbuing it with gratitude and love to cleanse your system • Eat juicy foods and sip warm water after meals to aid digestion • Do hip-opening yoga postures such as baddha konasana (bound angle) to bring fresh blood supply to the sacral region • Cultivate authentic loving relationships • Dance fluidly whenever possible – becoming a conscious conduit of the forces of nature • Learn about imbuing water with spirit and Hado. Herbs to balance the fluid body: Coriander, fennel, nettle, chamomile, aniseed, damiana, shepherds purse, burdock, ladies mantle, black cohosh, calendula, dong quai, horsetail, marshmallow, epilobium, uva ursi, buchu, corn silk, dandelion, clove.
Oils to balance water works: Jasmine, ylang ylang, vanilla, tangerine, cypress, juniper, geranium, sandalwood, rosemary, lemon-grass, cacao, fennel, cajeput, neroli, sage, tea tree