|My swimmer, based on Picasso's/pastel on paper © 2011 Cathy Barney|
Water, for me, really does have living qualities. It has taught me much about spirituality; particularly trust, patience, rhythm and surrender.
To some degree, you do have to trust the water to hold you. You must believe that it will support you by giving yourself to it, without losing yourself in it – if that makes any sense. Something new is created between what the water offers and what we must give up. Together, this something between is formed.
Water is 11 times denser than air, so we learn our bodies move and work differently here. We can feel less in control until we trust and practice this way of being. Parts come naturally, others are learned. Experiencing being in the water over time shapes the unnatural into the familiar and, in my case, beloved.
Breath may be more important in water because we have to pay attention to it. It allows us to submerge for periods and keeps the fluidity in our movement when we are aware and using it purposefully. This combination of in sync breathing and movements creates a bodily rhythm that can become calming and meditative. I usually have to burn off some frustration and busy-mindedness first. When I find the balance and my rhythm, it is magical as I glide almost effortlessly along. Even the drag becomes part of the patterned movement.
Describing how to surrender is difficult because it isn’t just giving in or up. This act is more creative than that. Surrender is, really, all of the above: trusting the water to hold you, patience in being in it and finding your rhythm. When you strike that balance, there is a newness in the space. All you and something else, merged as the boundaries between skin and water recede. Today as I was swimming, I noticed it comes as what’s inside myself fuses with what’s outside. And for me, that feels divine and requires me to let go of thinking and control.
The living water is life-giving, supportive, healing, renewing, creative, loving, challenging, strengthening, soothing, calming, discharging, yet also demands respect and gratitude.
This living water has taught me so much about my spirituality. It is a tactile way I experience the divine.
• What is my experience of water?
• How do I surrender?
• What similarities does that share with my experience of the divine?
• Where else do I surrender in my life?
• What new emerges when I do?
as I dance
down the steps,
I find myself
under the ropes
without my arms
like a dolphin
dipping under one
lane barrier and
into the next
I dive right in