Water gives us life. Before we ever taste our first sip of oxygen, we incubate in the womb, in the comfort of water. We need water to survive, both internally, to hydrate us, and also in the environment: water gives life to trees and plants that produce the oxygen we breathe.
Water represents the realm of emotions and the feminine energy. Water is a yin element, which is softer and more yielding than the more forceful, masculine, and linear yang.
The feminine, or yin, power works its magic over time, the way a steady drip of water can hollow out a stone or the way waves lapping on the shore can polish a piece of glass or a shell into a smooth stone.
Both of these take persistence and consistency, over a long period of time.
This is how we tend to think of the feminine, and the realm of emotions.
Soft. Yielding. Pliant. Less powerful. Less forceful.
Yin and Yang are a polarity, but they are not opposites; the yin contains the yang and the yang contains the yin.
When it is concentrated and focused, water can also produce more immediate results.
I found a dead bird on the deck where I set up to work every day. It had been attacked, and its guts were hanging out; its wing lay a few feet away. A forceful blast of a narrow stream of water from my hose, emerging like an arrow, unglued the dead bird from the deck and pushed it off the deck onto the earth below; it cleared the debris between the decks’s wood slats.
A more narrow water jet — a highly concentrated stream of water pushed through a constricted opening — can cut through metals that are too hard for other materials to cut.
This, too, is the nature of water. When focused and directed, it can cut through and move objects.
The Yin and Yang of Water
For a swimmer, water offers both support and resistance. As I move through the water, I feel how it carries me, allowing me to defy gravity; it also gives me something to push and pull against.
A rain shower is a welcome respite from a long stretch of heat and humidity. But too much rain without a container to hold it, creates a flood. It causes death and destruction.
Water can cleanse and purify, or it can transmit disease and illness.
A bath or soft shower can be a soothing balm, while a forceful and concentrated spray can sting.
All of this is water.
Soothing. Cleansing. Nourishing. Purifying. Yielding.
Piercing. Cutting. Killing. Drowning. Destroying.
What determines how water shows up is the container: the structure that holds or directs it.
The Nature of Emotions
Water is the realm of emotions, and our emotions work the same way.
With persistence and consistency over time, emotions can groove neural pathways in our nervous systems, creating habitual ways that we react to situations. Those emotions can become our home. We look to them for signs of life.
When well-directed, emotions can also offer a forceful push that unstick us and move us forward.
Without a strong container and knowledge of how to hold emotions, they can overwhelm and drown us.
Like water, emotions are not “good” or “bad;” they are simply an element of our nature, and we need them.
We can use them for constructive or destructive purposes, depending on the container we choose for holding them and and how we choose to direct them.