Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Water Calms the Soul

Last night we went out on the lake in our canoe. We have a square-back canoe, with an electric motor, so minimal work is required. One ‘finger’ of the lake is five minutes from our cabin, and we have plenty of no-wake zone (areas where boats are not allowed to go fast enough to produce a wake, or turbulence, behind them). We like to pack a picnic dinner and go out in the evening. It is cooler, and also most of the boaters have already left the lake by then, so it is quieter. I sat in the canoe, watching the trees go by, waving to the occasional boat we passed, at times hanging my feet over the side of the canoe to trail my feet in the water. It (the water) was warmer than usual at this time of year, and very pleasant.

This lake has lush trees and vegetation surrounding it, and we always see various critters. On the way out, we saw a flock of Canada Geese, some in the water, some on a little beach area, eating their vegetables. There were several goslings that were almost grown. On the way back, we saw some Blue Heron, in their noble stance along the lake edge. One flew across the lake so low it looked like its wings would dip into the water with each flap. There were also abundant splashes of fish jumping for insects for dinner. We usually see deer drinking at the lake in the evening, but we didn’t see any last night.

Water is relaxing in so many forms. Our ride last night was one example. We have a run-off creek on our property. I love to sit on the bridge, listen to the gurgling, and watch the water flow under me. The term ‘babbling brook’ brings up images of romance, childhood, or slower times of eras gone by. Waterfalls, despite their power, are relaxing to watch and listen to. Throughout the ages, people have built fountains to bring this experience into our environments, whether large ones in our town square, or small ones in our homes. Sound machines, designed to drown out bothersome noises and provide calming ones usually have ‘babbling brook’ and ‘waterfall’ as choices of sounds to listen to.

What is something people crave after a long, hard day? A soak in a hot bathtub, or a hot tub, a hot shower, or just a foot soak. How about a bubble bath, with scented candles and quiet music? (Champagne and a companion are optional.) Swimming and water exercise are excellent forms of exercise, and among the safest and easiest for people with painful bodies. I wrote a previous post on the Arthritis Foundation Water Aquatics program.

Watching fish is another way water provides relaxation. Koi ponds and water gardens are very popular these days. If you don’t have these available, or it is too much work, how about an aquarium? They can be large, elaborate, and a lot of work if you have fish that require specific temperatures and environments, or less elaborate, with more hardy fish, that are less work to maintain. Either way, there is something about watching fish swim back and forth, back and forth that is very relaxing. The bright colors of the fish and the gentle movement of the water plants add to the experience.

I  have talked about mindfulness several times here. How about sitting in front of an aquarium, or by a brook, and watching it mindfully? Carefully observe what you see, hear, etc., without judgment. Let your mind flow into observation mode, and let your body relax. Leave it behind for awhile. If you want, try imagining you are one of the fish. What would that be like? Try to get all your senses involved. Look at it from a fish’s perspective. The water might be too cold for us, and we would drown being under water so long, but from a fish’s perspective, these things are normal, natural, and not a problem. (That is the whole ‘judgment’ thing that we humans are so prone to do). This has me intrigued. Next time I get a chance, I am going to try this.

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