Water, air and soil are the things that connect all species. An alternate take on what Chief Seattle said about what we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves would be: what we put in our water, we put in ourselves. This holds true for fluoride, chlorine, road runoff, the fecal matter of domestic livestock and wildlife, and pharmaceuticals, as well as our good intentions, if we’re mindfully and heartfully aware.
I’d like to share some health ideas with respect to water and how my own path around water has evolved.
Growing Up with Well Water
I grew up with well water. It was soft water. Salt was added. It didn’t taste bad, but it was not the best water I ever had. (My mother tells me as a little girl, she drank from a sulfur spring. Quite a different experience than what I had and a smelly one at that!) On a hot summer day, I often enjoyed water from the hose; it tasted pretty good. This is not something I’d do today, not because of the water itself, but because of what it would have to travel through to get to me—petroleum-based hosing that, when heated by the sun, imparts who knows what to the water traveling through it.
In time, saltwater intrusion became an issue for our well. Eventually, my parents were invited to connect with the municipal water system. They avoided the tap for drinking, using it for hand-washing dishes, washing fruit and vegetables, etc. They bought a water cooler, like what you’d see in an office, and use that for drinking. They use reclaimed water for their plants.
The best-tasting water I had was at a friend’s in West Virginia. The place where she and her husband lived was neither too low nor too high in elevation. Although they lived in an area where confinement poultry is the main agricultural endeavor, neighbors with chicken houses were not close enough to affect their water quality. That water tasted like nothing and everything all at once.
Be Aware of These Additions
Generally speaking, unless you’re an American who lives in a mining area or where hydrofracking for shale gas is taking place and your water is polluted and/or flammable—a crime we work to stop—you probably have access to decent water. Even so, that water goes through a lot of processes to get to your tap. Fluoride may be added. The water is also chlorinated to disinfect it and there are harmful byproducts to chlorination (“disinfection byproducts,” or DBPs, in industry-speak).
The chlorine is helpful for countering organisms that might do us harm, but it carries its own risks. Whenever I’ve lived where I have access to a municipal water supply, I’ve used a chlorine filter. Since at least 2006, I’ve used a Berkey filter, with added fluoride filters. Berkeys are less expensive than whole-house filters, but still not inexpensive. The cost is worth it. It removes chlorine and fluoride along with trihalomethanes (a class of disinfection byproducts), but also other things. (I also use a low-flow shower head that accepts a chlorine filter as it is helpful to avoid absorbing chlorine through the skin and the shower may be the largest exposure, depending on how we wash our dishes.) Its taste cannot match that of my friend’s water in West Virginia, but it tastes great even so. I usually carry the filtered water with me in a Mason jar or two, depending on how long I’ll be out. People kid me about its being “’shine,” and I laugh and kindly explain what it is.
It is unjust and unfortunate that so much fluoridation took place without the consent of people in the communities where it was being implemented, and that industries needing a place to dump their fluoride-related wastes were able to convince so many that it would promote the health of our teeth. (You can read more about fluoride, including the Mercola.com e-newsletter, most recently, “Harvard Study Confirms Fluoride Reduces Children’s IQ”, along with Christopher Bryson’s book The Fluoride Deception and in Connett, Beck and Micklem’s The Case Against Fluoride.)
The Emotions Element
Water carries the emotions of Earth, and of people. It is powerful when moving and when still. Since I’ve read Masaru Emoto’s The Hidden Messages in Water and Pam Montgomery’s Partner Earth, I’ve had misgivings about my feelings around “polluted” water, and specifically, how my feelings around what I perceive to be polluted water may actually affect the vitality of water.
Montgomery has traversed this path and offers ideas for healing and restoring relations with “abused relatives,” the abused relatives being “all our relations,” meaning all the elements, all aspects of Earth, other species, and so forth.
Montgomery’s description of her healing ceremony with her closest water relative, the Hudson River, is alone worth the price of her book. As part of that process, she writes, “I realized that even though I admired the Hudson for her great beauty, I also carried an aversion to her because of my belief that the Hudson is polluted. I could enjoy her from a distance and swim in her waters in my mind, but I would never actually put my body in her.” With General Electric having spent years discarding PCBs in the river, this attitude is understandable. But here’s where Montgomery takes this thread:
“I told the Deva [a Deva is the underlying/overarching Spirit of an element, a plant, a place] of the Hudson that this was the place I needed to heal. She responded by saying, ‘Do you not stop loving a child because it is handicapped, or a sister when she gets cancer, or a parent who becomes old and less capable, or a friend who loses a limb? Why then would you stop loving me because I’ve become polluted by the acts of another?’ This insight hit me at the core of my being, and I saw clearly that I had treated the river as a lesser being because it was polluted. I vowed in that moment to heal the split with the Hudson River, knowing that her waters will never run clean and clear if I continue to carry the energy of disgust because of pollution. When I swim in her waters instead of worrying about what the polluted waters are doing to me, I will rejoice in knowing that my love is healing her and through this act of partnering I, too, will become rejuvenated and whole.”
Mending Our Relations with Water
I struggle, because I still am of many minds with respect to water. In my own community in recent months, many pets (dogs and cats) have died from cancer. Were my neighbors giving them filtered water? What if we could learn to transmute our energies—at heart, our attitudes—around water pollution? We would still need to “make good” on our intentions by ceasing the pollution of water, by conserving it, by treating water as the sacred element it is.
Of all elements (fire, earth, air, water), water seems to be most adept at carrying emotions. In Chinese medicine, it lines up with Kidney, which stores ancestral Qi (the life force one is born with), and the Kidney time, which is winter, is related to the emotion of fear. Is it not understandable then that our waters are in the condition they are in, with our fears running rampant throughout the world? How easily can we turn that around if we choose not only to take responsibility for our everyday actions, but also to take responsibility for our emotions?
When I thought about this piece, I planned to write the usual stuff: Every day, you need water the equivalent of your body weight, in ounces, divided by half. Factor in liquids we get through food, plus other sources (plant infusions, coffee, perhaps), with offsets for any diuretic effects.
I also wanted to say, if we drink only when we are thirsty, we will be constantly be dehydrated, so we need to drink water regularly throughout the day. Water is not boring. But if you need to transition away from juices or other gussied-up water drinks (I tend to avoid these; they usually filled with high fructose corn syrup or are too sugary, even if the manufacturers use cane sugar), try adding lemon or lime juice or apple cider vinegar to your water.
I come to the end of this and now want to say, What if we brought to our drinking of water, the sort of heartful awareness we need to bring to all of our activities? To give thanks for the water? To send our good energy, not our concerns and worries, to bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay, the South River, the Patuxent, the Rhodes, the West, the Severn, to all the little creeks and streams that act as capillaries in our region?
Consider how we might turn things around. Bottoms up!