Back to Water
by Jane Lister Reis
Did you know that you can be born twice? According to the Christian biblical story, there are two births: the first by water (the womb), the second of spirit.
Much has been written about this second birth, our spiritual rebirth into the family of God. I, myself, have spent the last twenty years exploring the meaning of this spiritual rebirth in my own life. Its been a powerfully transformative time in my life, but recently Im feeling my focus shift to my first birth, my physical life. My hope is that I will be able to bring all that I have learned about myself as a spiritual being back to my physical self. Im back to water.
It has been a curious journey for me, my return to water awareness. Several years ago I noticed something odd about myself: I didnt drink water. Even worse to admit, I didnt even like water. Certainly I was a tea and coffee drinker (decaf, please!), but I cringed when I heard health experts talk about drinking eight glasses a water a day. Were they kidding? I never even finished a glass of water at mealtime, let alone chugalugged water throughout the day.
It wasnt until I began teaching about the feminine and about the spiritual qualities of physical nourishment that the symbolic clues about water began to surface from my always-quick-to-respond subconscious mind. I realized that I had an aversion to water because at my deepest level, I had an aversion to the depths of my own feminine. Water = feminine. Oh, dear!
As a woman, I had developed my masculine side. Havent we as women learned to be independent, capable, responsible, and self-empowered? Most definitely. But what about the feminine? Could I trust the feminine, the realm of surrender, flexibility, formlessness, non-attachment? Certainly I had learned how to touch into this creative source of energy when I meditated, but could I bring this water quality into my daily physical life? I was beginning to fervently hope so.
Drink water, I told myself. Lots of it. Unfortunately, as I did, images of a wounded feminine came to mind. These were not nourishing images. No! Just like our polluted water tables, the images of the feminine felt wounded and, yes, even polluted. It was time for a new plan. I had studied some of the research of Larry Dossey and others in creating spiritually imbued water. So holding a glass of water in my hands, I called forth the deepest and purest image of the feminine source that I could and asked this loving source to bless and bring renewed life to the water that was in my hands. Then, after giving the water five minutes to reconstitute itself, I drank it, gratefully acknowledging the love of the divine feminine and the power of the source that is within the earth.
Perhaps youd like to try the same experiment when you drink water: Close your eyes and imagine going deep into the earth, where you find the source of the feminine, the purest, most beautifully clear pool of water from which all life is created. Call upon this source of life and ask her to bless your physical body, replenish your cells with water, and revitalize your body with her living love. Take time to breathe this new life into your cells and awareness, and then rest in the peace of the tranquility of this first source of life. Check how your body feels.
If you, too, have never actually explored the curative and healing power of water, I suggest you read Dr. F. Batmanghelidjs book, Your Bodys Many Cries for Water (Global Health Solutions, Inc., 1995). In this book, Dr. Batmanghelidj discusses the role of water in the body, and how a little understanding of your bodys need for water can greatly enhance your physical well-being. Since our bodies are composed of 25% solid matter and 75% water (even brain tissue is said to consist of 85% water), every function of the body is monitored to the efficient flow of water.
Says Batmanghelidj, "Water distribution is the only way of making sure that, not only an adequate amount of water, but its transported elements, hormones, chemical messages and nutrients first reach the more vital organs." Succinctly put, our brains run on electrical impulses, which are fueled by water. Amazingly, here are some of the aspects of health with which Dr. Batmanghelidj says water can help: lower back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, headaches, asthma, allergies, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, alcohol dependency, and neck pain.
Are you starting to become a convert? Theres more: Christine Palumbo, a registered dietitian, writes, "Unlike food, the body does not have a reserve of water. Once the body runs out of its water supply, it cannot re-hydrate itself, and thirst is an imprecise sign of dehydration. When the body starts getting dehydrated, the signs are both physical and mental. The symptoms of dehydration range from lightheadedness to headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Dehydration also increases muscle glycogen use, which leads to the onset of premature fatigue. Along the same lines, chronic fatigue syndrome may be an indication of dehydration. A slight water deficiency of only one quart slows bloods circulation and reduces concentration. This is why it is essential to keep the body in balance."
Palumbo continues her argument to help us drink more water: "Research conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle found that among women who drank more than five glasses of water a day, there were fewer cases of colon cancer. Their risk was about half of what it was for women who drank less than two glasses a day. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day has been proven to reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections in women. By increasing the amount of fluids excreted from the body, more bacteria is flushed out that could lead to infection." Yikes. Heard enough? Are you committed to drinking at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day? I certainly am. Doing so has marked a profound shift in my commitment to my bodys need to be loved and cared for. If personal growth is a spiral journey, Im returning to my physical (water) home with my spiritual self in tow.
But here was the clincher to me: Contrary to many peoples fears, drinking water does not lead to water retention. The opposite is actually the case. According to Linda McDonald, registered dietitian, "What appears to be fat on overweight people is often retained water. When the body gets less water, it senses this as a threat and holds on to every drop. This results in the swollen feet, legs, and hands associated with water retention." Now, thats good news to new water drinkers like me! McDonald continues, "Studies actually show that when we drink enough water, the body eliminates excess fluids. When your body is breaking down fat, it needs even more water to help eliminate the extra waste that is produced."
Okay, Im convinced (and hopefully you are, too) of my bodys need for water, but unfortunately its not that simple. You also have to know where that water is coming from. In other words, we have to know its source. Theres the important "s" word again. Writer Carol Keough, in her February 99 Prevention magazine article "Is Your Water Safe to Drink?" says that we all get water in three ways: from a public utility thats regulated by the state and federal government, from our own private source (usually a well), or from bottled water.
According to Keough, heres how they stack up: "Public water gets two thumbs up most of the time. There are notable and well publicized exceptions. Well water may or may not be safe, depending on both the quality of the underground water and the diligence of the homeowner in care for the well. Bottled water is almost always safe, but it may not be as pure as you think." Check the label. Check its source. According to Bob Brady of the International Bottled Water Association, 25% of all bottled water is tap water drawn from city water treatment plants! As one writer said, "If youre trying to drink in nature, look past the mountains to the fine print to see where your bottled water really comes from."
While were becoming more educated about water, we also need to realize that water is one of the most critical global issues as we move into the 21st century. Louise Yamada writes in her book Market Magic (John Wiley & Son, 1998) that water shortages exist in eighty countries, affecting forty percent of the worlds population. Her statistics are alarming:
The amount of water on the planet remains constant, but only 2.5% of the worlds water is fresh (97.5% is salt) and over 2/3 of that fresh water is locked in glaciers and deep fossil aquifers.
The amount of potable water is decreasing, and the quality of this usable supply is shrinking and deteriorating due to contamination and must be shared by a growing global population.
More than fifty percent of the worlds population lacks adequate sanitation.
1.2 billion people (more than 1/5 of the worlds population) dont have safe water to drink.
In emerging countries, 66% of the population has no access to toilets, or water for washing, even in many hospitals; drinking water often cannot be distinguished from wastewater. In these countries, people are affected by waterborne disease from fecal contamination, resulting in contraction of parasitic flukes, protozoa, intestinal worms, and cholera.
The World Health Organization estimates that over five million people die each year from contaminated water diseases (this on top of illnesses from industrial pollutants).
Why do I share these grim facts (there are many more in Yamadas book) with you? Because I hope they will convince you of the critical importance of water its purity and our need for it. Lets face it, without these two sources of life (the spirit that creates us and the water that sustains our physical life), we would not survive.
Hopefully, as a new convert to the at-least-eight-glasses-of-water-a-day club, you will pause and give thanks to this liquid source of life, our divine Mother. I ask you to pledge your commitment to helping restore her life-giving element to its purest form by how your care for her planetary body and your own body. She will thank you by blessing you with good health.
The photograph used to illustrate this article is from the book Visions of the Goddess (Penguin Studio, 1999; $24.95 hardcover) a collaboration between internationally acclaimed photographer/author Courtney Milne and researcher/writer Sherrill Miller, who have traveled the world for more than ten years documenting the Goddesss tradition. A contributing editor to Photo Life, Courtney conducts workshops, classes and photographic tours both at home and abroad. His previous books include The Sacred Earth (Penguin, 1992) and Spirit of the Land (Penguin, 1994).