As New Zealand mops up and mends the damage from Cyclone Gabrielle, I am struck by the sheer power of nature itself and how we as human beings are intricately connected both physically and energetically to it. We can feel this connection through our waters or its link to our feeling selves. Humans are 70% water as is planet earth, so it makes sense that our emotional waters rise and fall along with the planet’s. We rise and fall with the tides. We rise and fall with the ebb and floor of the water table through the mangroves, the rivers and lagoons of this beautiful country.
Exploring the fundamental nature of water, it feels as if we’re being called to find the gold for ourselves individually and collectively in what the Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, labels this “once in a century weather event.”
Ultimately, water has much to teach us.
The first and most vital lesson is that water must move.
Water loses its vibrancy and life-giving energy when it stagnates or is held back. Living by the sea, I notice how the bay waters grow smelly goo in the still pockets of the sea in front of my home on consecutive calm days. The fresh, oxygenated life force of the ocean’s waves don’t reach these still pockets. Even when this happens for a short time, the water begins to deteriorate. It’s obvious when this happens in nature, yet are we paying attention to how this happens inside ourselves, sometimes subtly? Are we paying attention to how we relate to our emotional bodies — our “inner waters” — as they, too, rise and fall? How do we hold space for our feelings and talk to ourselves when we notice strong feelings? Do we make room to express deep emotion in consistent and honourable ways, or do we hold them back so long and under so much force that they come bursting through, damaging our relationships, property, dignity and self respect?
Water Must Move
Like water, emotion must move too. Without a free expression of what is truly emotional or meaningful to us, we cannot oxygenate our beings. We stagnate; we resist, we limit ourselves. We make ourselves ill, and this stagnation manifests on the other planes as well: mentally and physically. Many of us have become practiced at suppressing our feeling natures, especially when it feels strong or somehow “negative.” We stop ourselves from expressing uncomfortable feelings to loved ones; we stop ourselves from telling colleagues how we really feel and talk behind their backs instead; we try to minimise the threat that we might drown in the waters of our essential feeling nature.
Water Must Be Held
There’s another aspect to water that is important to reflect on as well. When large volumes of water move too quickly, destruction down stream, in particular, occurs. So if we remove the trees on the hilltop or within large areas of land, we invite disaster when storm water needs to move. We do this when we allow our emotions to run too loose. Water, after all, needs a container to hold it; otherwise it spills everywhere. Without a glass or a bowl to express our emotions, they will only get things wet. This is why many regard those who freely and loosely express emotions as “damp.” Unrestrained emotional expression can cause as much harm as water which is overly contained or restricted. It just manifests more immediately.
We must learn to hold uncomfortable feelings, releasing and nurturing ourselves along the way.
Gabrielle reminds us that water is a powerful force and can be dangerous. This we already know. What we’re still practicing is to balance our emotional bodies along with great respect for the water bodies of this planet. We are learning to move back from the dangerous waters of destruction to gently release our feelings, guiding them towards something constructive and healing. As above, so below someone much wiser than me once said. In this way, I ask that Cyclone Gabrielle offer us a moment to reflect on how we tend to the waters of our hearts.