After three days perched atop a paddleboard on a vast reservoir that meanders through Arizona and Utah, it is clear to me the healing power of water. It clears the mind, invigorates the body and feeds the soul.
Unplugging is essential to the process. And finding a location where contact with other humans is minimal is key. Crowded campgrounds won’t do. People-packed hiking trails are out. True, natural, spectacular scenery is a must.
So with my dear, soulful friend Janet at the wheel, we loaded up and headed to Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the country stretching 186 miles across red rock desert.
I can honestly say I have never explored more beautiful, serene waters on a paddleboard. Narrow slot canyons with towering red rock walls became our guide. There was no agenda, cell phones, Internet or traffic to contend with. It was just two people, two paddleboards and the vast healing power of water.
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Healing Power of Water
In his first book, The Healing Power of Water, Dr. Masaru Emoto writes that water interprets and delivers powerful messages about life and emotions.
He does this through extensive research into how water forms crystals, and specifically how positive energy elicits beautiful crystals and negative energy results in misshapen crystals.
His entire body of scientific work is devoted to the healing powers of water. After all, about 60 percent of adult bodies are made up of water, so all of this seems relevant. Dr. Emoto writes, “All answers are in water.”
In his bestseller, Messages from Water and the Universe, he makes the connection between water, our thoughts and our bodies.
From loving words to angry thoughts, Dr. Emoto’s research shows water responds in the form of perfect crystals or haphazard shapes. Now relate that to how those same emotions affect our minds and our health.
With sunrise on the horizon, Janet and I unload our boards and set out to find new adventures. With no idea what the lake would serve up to us those days, we have no cares.
There is something so powerful about the energy in the air that we can practically taste it. Our thirst for nature’s detoxing drug is strong by now. We are ready to embrace some good, old-fashioned eco-therapy as we wind our way through the slot canyons and crevices towering above us.
Howard Clinebell writes in his 1996 book Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth that green therapy or earth-centered therapy nurtures our human need for healthy interaction with nature. Just walking among trees, or near a stream or brook, evokes nature’s restorative powers. Clinebell calls it “inreach,” or receiving and being nurtured by the presence of nature, place and earth.
Whenever something heavy weighs on my mind, I turn to nature. Even if it’s sitting outside in the backyard listening to birds chirping. When I yearn for more, I gravitate to the trails, mountains and water for healing, distressing and nurturing. Indeed, my cup overflows.
Why do you think we’re drawn to the sound of rain or the soothing sounds of thunderstorms? Nature is our innate restorative place.
Level Set Your Soul in Nature
Spending time in nature is proven to reduce stress, improve our memories and brain function and give us an overall sense of well being. A natural high, if you will.
Here are some simple ways to get a dose of nature’s CPR:
- Hit the trails. Every community offers a multitude of hiking opportunities, from urban footpaths to forested trails. Pack a lunch, lace up and head out.
- Take the trails a step further and plan a multi-day camping or backpacking trip. Get outside the boundaries of Internet and breathe deeply.
- Forest bathing. Sounds trendy, but it’s really all about back to basics. Originated in Japan, this practice involves visiting a forest and soaking in the sights, smells and sounds with intention.
- Kayak, canoe or paddle. Ditch the motorized watercraft and opt for the quiet sound of paddles in the water. Explore your local lake or recreation area with the intention to paddle slowly and peacefully as you release your cares.
- Plant a garden. Yes, ecotherapy can be as simple as planting beautiful pots of flowers or herbs. The feeling of digging your hands in the soil and watering tender, young plants evoke a sense of calm.
- Take a walk in your neighborhood. Even an urban stroll at sunrise can energize our bodies for the day. Stroll, don’t power walk! Stop to watch the birds light in the trees or plop down in a patch of grass to watch the clouds roll by.
- Sky gaze. Simply gazing at the sky on a beautiful day will reduce stress. Add deep breathing, meditation, or gratitude to the experience to heighten your sense of well being.
- Beach, lakeside or stream walking. If you’re fortunate enough to live by the beach or a body of water, simply walking along the shoreline and dipping your toes in will do the trick. Leave the headphones behind. Instead, listen closely to the sounds of the flowing, living waters.