Turning on the Water gatha (poem)
Water flows from high in the mountains
Water runs deep in the earth
Miraculously water comes to us,
and sustains all life. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
By reciting this water gatha before turning on the tap helps me be mindful of the simple act of taking water. Mindfulness is always mindfulness or awareness of something, making it more real. How often I have taken water for granted. Letting it run unnecessarily. The nearby lake, less than 20% filled, is a clear sign of these time of drought. A bell of mindfulness of each drop’s sacred, life-sustaining nature. I vow to help protect and conserve fresh water so that there is an adequate amount to sustain life.
This past week I went on a water fast. Actually it was mostly water. An intention to increase mindfulness and gratitude for water. To more deeply experience it running through my heart, pumped to every living cell in this body. Into a half-gallon of filtered water I added the juice of one lemon per day. It became the most fragrant, refreshing lemonade-water ever. I also added a couple teaspoons of psyllium fiber each day to show some love to the GI tract; that it not feel forgotten. As a dietician, I designed an immediate, but gentle personal-fasting encounter as a meditation on water. At first there was slight hunger and the mind coercing a trip to the frig. After a couple of days hunger pangs intensified from being a slight, dull feeling to deep belly aches. I breathed in, aware of the discomfort, accepting it as it is. Then breathed out, letting go of negative thoughts about the discomfort. It was easy to recognize the truth that I’m still alive and there is so much beauty before me. Perhaps sounds coming from my insides, such as growling, rumbling and burps were embarrassing, at times. Actually, I smiled and acted like there were no noise, but those sitting near me during meditations and yoga might have felt a fright as sounds became distressing. I apologized sincerely, in my heart, to those affected.
After a few days the sounds gradually went away. I recognized varying degrees of weakness and light-headedness. Each sip of water became a blessing. Lips moistened, throat soothed, stomach thankful and quickly filled, as it had noticeably shrunk. Holding the glass I knew I was drinking water. Such joy at simply drinking water. Each day I continued with my usual exercise routine of yoga, walking or cycling. Drinking lots of water did mean more frequent pit stops along the way. It was wonderful to feel energized during and after activities. Isn’t it amazing to have a body that can endure and even thrive under adversity? By week’s end I migrated to juicing. Getting the nutrient-rich waters from vegetables, mostly carrots, beets and celery. Spicing it up with onion, ginger, and jalapeño peppers. Feeling super vitalized, Today I’m back eating my regular vegetarian diet, more than a kg lighter. But now with increased appreciation for water, the object of my meditation and physical practice over this past week.
Remember, dear one, when we walked long distances to get water? So far to the river, to the stream. Remember going to the well, fetching a jug of water and carrying it back to prepare a meal? Each cell in our body has the DNA of ancestors. The memory of struggle to obtain the essential elixir of our existence. It was ancestors’ dream that someday their descendants would be able to have access to pure, clean water without struggle. Perhaps by simply turning a lever. Could they imagine both cold and hot water at our fingertips? Isn’t it such a miracle how water comes to us and sustains our life? After this week’s fast my appreciation of water has surely grown. A short water fast, even for a day, can be helpful to gain a deeper spiritual connection to water.
Continuing to pray and meditate with gratitude for rain to ease the drought, as you are, that adequate water manifests soon and continues its presence for our descendants’ needs.