Water Therapy for the Bereaved

It is often said the crises in our lives are the most formative and even transformative. The death of my father at the early age of 57, when I was 30, was such a turning point. It sent me on a healing journey that continues to this day — I call it the pilgrimage of a wounded healer. This is how water therapy helped me.

My father was a great source of love and security for the whole family. When he was ill, it felt the tables had turned and that I must now be the outpouring source. Walking down the street one day, in a haze of grief, I saw a sign offering holistic massage. The masseuse was a lovely, light-hearted woman who became a good friend. I discovered that touch can speak to the body more powerfully than words, especially when events in our lives no longer make sense.

This realization helped my visits to my father in hospital. While other relatives sat lost for words at their loved one’s bedside, I (equally dumbfounded) would massage my father’s feet or hands or head. We communicated love silently through touch. I gave and he received, but in receiving he was also giving to me. A calm would settle around us that others in the ward could feel. Sometimes it seemed as if we were tapping into a larger source, beyond life and death.

My father was a charismatic intellectual — we had not hugged since I was a teenager, but I was always sure of his love. After he died, I knew that I had to seek out the essence of loving touch; its power to heal the grief of separation whether through death or isolation. Toward the end of my decade-long search, I came across a form of aquatic bodywork called Watsu®, which can offer profound support for the pain of bereavement.

Watsu was inspired by Zen shiatsu. This 20th century therapy was a creative response to the sad suppression of massage in technological Japan. Harold Dull, who studied shiatsu in Japan, brought it back to Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California. He found that working in warm water enhanced the nurturing holds and relaxing stretches of shiatsu. The work involves floating and gently mobilizing a person in body-temperature water. Body size or age is irrelevant as the water allows us to move and be moved with a grace and ease long forgotten. Older people with fragile skin and stiffer joints may find this more comfortable than usual massage on a table.

On a purely physical level, the buoyancy of the water unloads joints and loosens muscles, such that the body can relax fully. The warmth and the sensation of water against the skin inhibit pain signals and stimulate the release of “feel-good” hormones. Circulation increases, breathing deepens and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. All these physiological responses facilitate healing and relaxation in a person who may be chronically stressed.

As the body gets comfortable, the mind can let go. Quite often this is a signal for the release of any pent-up emotions. Something about being held closely in water is reminiscent of womb-like or infantile safety. The water provides an interface between skin and skin that allows a greater degree of intimacy than might normally be acceptable between adult strangers. It is maternal, paternal, above all caring. There is a sense that the love transmitted is not so much personal as numinous.

As well as being skilled in technique, the Watsu practitioner should convey a steady sense of presence without judgment. If tears or laughter well up in the receiver, they are simply and non-verbally allowed to express and release. Water has the power to cleanse, dissolve and dilute much more that physical pain. The practitioner trusts this natural process of self-healing and does not attempt to impose upon it.

For a bereaved person who is missing the physical presence of a loved one, who might also feel disconnected from self and others, Watsu can offer a means of reconnecting without dependency. It can ferry someone through a period of loss and lack and set them back on land with a sense of hope and purpose.

Androgenetic alopecia can be highly unpleasant, daunting and embarassing problem for men. Buy generic propecia with no any rx in this online drugstore and conserve a money and time with no damaging your body.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.