Think about some of the qualities of water. It is always wanting to move – rivers flow, oceans swirl with waves. If you drop a glass on the floor its contents will spill, spreading out as far as possible over your beautiful new carpet. If you were to drop a huge rock into a river, it would not stop flowing for a second, the water would simply swirl effortlessly around it and continue on its way.
Water And Movement
Water does not like to be stagnant, it will lose its freshness and eventually become toxic. Many problems in the mind and body come as a result of stagnation. In traditional eastern approaches to medicine, the bladder and kidneys are associated with the correct flow of fluids in the body. Problems with the digestive system or reproductive system are seen as imbalances of water. Mentally, stubbornness and fear of change are associated with blockage in the flow of our thinking. Fear of change is a huge issue for anybody embarking on the spiritual journey inwards. In Buddhism, our attempts to cling to the ever-changing is what causes suffering. The process of “letting go” can be thought of in watery terms – removing any blockages that prevent our stream of consciousness from flowing.
The way in which water navigates obstacles can inspire us to work this way with our own challenges. Water will not force its way through an obstacle, it will effortlessly find another way to get around it. The current way may not be working, but there IS always another option. Likewise water is associated with creativity – whether you are an artist, writer, musician or anybody engaging in creative thinking – the process it at its most powerful and enjoyable when ideas flow naturally without having to force them.
Water And Non-Violence
Water is also associated with the quality of softness and yielding. Sometimes we may wish to confront our problems by attacking them head on, but this may not always be the best approach. Adopting a rigid approach in an argument will often result in it going round in circles with everybody getting increasingly offended. To get the conversation flowing toward somewhere productive, a more flexible approach is needed. Ghandi was famed for achieving massive social change using a non-violent approach to activism. He was once in a situation where the police were coming to break up his protest camp. His followers suggested setting up barriers to stop them, but Ghandi adopted for a different approach – inviting them in for tea and biscuits!
Anybody taking the inward journey will have come across aspects of themselves which are difficult to confront. We all have demons lurking in the shadows, and often ignoring them or trying to fight them will only increase their strength. A non-violent approach would be one of gentle acceptance and non-judgement, inviting the demons in for tea and biscuits to hear what they have to say. In order to know your-self intimately, a gentle, flexible, but unstoppable, water-inspired approach is needed. People who judge themselves negatively, or perhaps have body-image issues, may be experiencing a water imbalance.
Yielding is sometimes seen as a weakness, but in many cases it brings greater strength: a live twig is much harder to snap then a dead, dry one.
Water And Sexuality
The water element is often associated with sexuality. As our creative force, sexuality is the most powerful energy we have: it can literally bring new life into existence. Many spiritual teachings recognise the power of this force, and some of the risks associated with it.
Sexuality is like a rushing torrent which can wash us away if we are not careful. The ego has tendency to twist sexual desire into a means of self-validation, this is compounded by the fact we live in a society where we are relentlessly pounded with sexual imagery in order to sell us products. The resulting imbalance in sexuality (water) can lead to feelings of insecurity or an addiction that can never be satisfied.
On the other hand, we should not try to repress our sexuality, this will cause stagnation, or worse a build-up of pressure leading to a potential explosion! This powerful energy is one of life’s great pleasures and if we channel it correctly we can use it to great advantage. As with everything in the spiritual path, balance is the key.
Yoga Poses For Balancing The Water Element
Water poses often focus on the pelvic area and sacrum – bringing relaxation to these areas to facilitate inner flow and fluidity of the reproductive system. This area can hold a lot of emotional tension and it is one we often neglect to work with. We can practice Yoga in a yielding rather than over-straining manner when working with the water element to mirror the attributes of water. Some poses to try are:
- Half Moon pose
- Cow face pose
- Triangle pose
- Stretches with legs to the side
- Gentle twists on the floor
- Working with and opening hips