At Thanksgiving dinner the conversation at the family table came around to gratitude and everyone was asked to share what their most exciting experience had been this year. Mine was taking two weeklong water classes at Harbin. Having been an aquatic bodyworker for 11 years, these were my first classes in 6 years, and the exciting thing about them was getting back into the water.
The warm water was the reason why I came to Harbin Hot Springs back in 1998, from Australia. I traveled here to complete my education as a Watsu teacher, and ended up with a full time career as a Tantra teacher with my husband Steve. When my mother died unexpectedly earlier this year, I knew that getting back into the water was crucial for my healing, inner peace and grieving.
Being in the warm water always feels good to me. Water is great healer. Water teaches me all kinds of things about my life. In the classes I participated in, I reconnected to some of the principles I have been experiencing in my life, and sometimes forgotten.
Breath Connection & Presence
The breath connects heaven and earth. We begin life in this body with a breath and the last breath ends our life. In that we are all one. Being in the water it is easy to stay with my breath, to feel my body rise and sink while being caressed by the warmth of the water. The power of the present moment is stronger than my mind.
When I hold someone in my arms in a session, I am with them 100%, undistracted, present, receptive to be led by them. Their breath becomes my breath. When we breathe together, we become one. In fact this is also one of the most important things in tantric practice. We disappear into each other. The water holds us in its grand embrace as we dance together into the unknown of the moment.
The breath connects all of us, regardless of who we are, what we believe in, how we look. Thinking about that when I go about my daily activities outside of the water makes accepting others so much easier!
Actions & Effect
In a session, when I move my body, their body moves in a mysterious rhythm of weight and weightlessness, breath and letting go, balance and imbalance. When I move fast, the water around me moves in a different way than when I move slowly. Translating that into my daily activities, I can see how my actions have a direct effect on everyone I interact with. If I respond in kindness, they are more likely to respond with kindness.
In the dance of the session, I become invisible to my partner, so that all they feel is being gently supported, within the frame of my arms. I, as the giver, disappear. They are safely held in their own experience that I know nothing about, and I am just the humble witness.
Really, there is so little we know about others. We might think that we know what they feel, and they might even specify very clearly what their experience of any given moment is, but we may understand something completely different. As I open myself to that reality more and more, I feel more generous, patient and loving towards myself and others.
In the water there is spaciousness. As I immerse myself into the water, it connects with the water within me, my inner body, and the separation between water and skin disappears, and I enter into a realm of limitlessness. So often our lives are led by our minds, and getting back into the water brings to me a spaciousness that allows for new ideas to enter and perspectives to reveal themselves. If we just give more space to the issues and unresolved situations in our life, there is room for the new to come in!
In one of the classes I learned the term “rhythmic field”, a place in which everything becomes a rhythm – inhale and exhale; stillness and movement; tears and joy; connection and aloneness. In these rhythmic fields of life we can explore and delight and be embraced by the healing qualities of the water. There are rhythmic fields everywhere – in our relationships with others, in our work, when we play, when we make love. The water magnifies these rhythmic fields in a way that lets me see them everywhere around me, not just when I am in the water.
Letting the water do the work – this is one of the principles of aquatic bodywork. Being in the water, I can quietly listen to what wants to emerge, what movement or what breath. The moment reveals the truth of what is now. As I trust the water, I become flow. And how would it be to apply that to everyday life! Instead of pushing to get to a desired result, just to sit back and accept what is and see what emerges in the next moment! And trusting that life will reveal everything. What a concept! Somewhere I read that “stress is the result of not accepting what is.”
Yin & Yang
In some of my sessions, I submerge my partner below the water surface. As a giver, I am led by the receiver and her breath. I become an empty vessel with a willingness to let go into being led while providing a safe structure. As I give, I receive. As I receive, I give. The dualities dissolve. There is no agenda, other than the stepping from doing into being, from static into ecstatic.
These are all profound spiritual insights, and really, this was my main reason for taking the two water classes – to reconnect with the spiritual wisdom of the water, and to dedicate uninterrupted time to my personal healing and my pleasure of being free to play, nurture myself and explore. One could call it a vacation with a purpose, a learning vacation of a different kind. Quality time.
Floating into Bliss
Fortunately for me, in between my two water classes, Steve and I taught a class for couples, “Floating into Bliss” where we explored Watsu moves and combined them with the tantric practices of breathing together, exploring the sensuality of the water, being held and holding another, spending time in the wordless realm and coming close to each other in deep relaxation and trust. Everyone left feeling ecstatic, renewed and refreshed, and connected with each other in ways that had been long forgotten. What wonderful experiences the water holds for all of us.