Written by: Erin Anderson
As a label, self-care gets applied to everything from trauma-informed therapy to weekend brunch. We hear we’re “supposed to” practice self-care, if only because everyone else is doing it (and posting lavish IG stories as proof). But do we actually know what it looks like for ourselves?
Self-care can be as mindless or as mindful as we make it. And I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’ve never justified a night of trashy TV in its name. But when I’m really after something deeper and more meaningful, nothing brings me a greater sense of comfort, nourishment, harmony, inspiration, insight and balance than practices that incorporate the five elements of nature.
Tying a self-care practice back to these five elements is a marvelous way of grounding the nervous system in the cycles and rhythms of Mother Earth (and Father Sky). In this series, I offer a simple practice for engaging with each of the five elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Spirit) in a way that’s accessible, simple and straightforward (yet oh-so-magical).
JULY: TALKING (AND LISTENING) TO WATER
I chose to kick off this series with Water as our element of focus for two reasons:
- We’re still in cardinal Water sign Cancer territory through July 22
- It’s hot outside in the the Northern Hemisphere, where I live. I’m enjoying water as a refreshing force of renewal right about now.
Water feels especially meaningful at this time in my reality, and it’s been sharing many “messages,” both profound and lighthearted.
If you’re saying to yourself, “Water doesn’t talk to me — what does she mean?” I would ask you, “Are you listening?” The first part of our practice, before we get into the ritual, is this: Start listening to Water. Listen to Water rushing downstream in a river near where you’re hiking. Listen to the rain as it splashes on the sidewalk or the windshield of your car.
Listen to Water as it exits the tap in your home while you wash your hands or fill your glass. Listen to Water slosh in your belly as you gulp it down. Just … listen. What do you hear, feel, sense or know?
Spend a few days just settling into this Water Listening practice. Notice how sensitive you may start to become, and perhaps how much more easily you can “flow” from one activity to the next; from one idea to the next.
SHOWERING AS A MINDFULNESS EXERCISE
I’ve never been a bath enthusiast. I know they’re restorative and luxurious and really powerful for some people. They just don’t do it for me. Maybe if someone else were cleaning my tub I’d feel differently …
But I love, love, LOVE showers. They are the anchor of my entire evening routine. It doesn’t matter whether I’m standing in there for 5 minutes or 25; I never step out without having had some kind of minor revelation as the water cascades down my skin, sloughing away excess energy, calming my body’s systems and leaving me feeling closer to myself … healed, somehow.
The more intentional shower ritual I perform has a very deliberate rhythm compared to my everyday routine. I try to do this version every couple of weeks, even when I don’t feel a particular “need.” Something always comes forward as an insight I wasn’t expecting, and I’m always glad I’ve taken the time.
USING THE RITUAL IN YOUR HOME PRACTICE
Please find in these 11 steps what works for you and then modify / scale to your heart’s content! I recommend reading through the steps and making notes so you can let the ritual flow in the moment without having to stop.
Important: Ask any other members of your household for a good chunk of time (30-60 minutes) and some privacy so you can really turn inward and make this time exclusively about you.
11-STEP WATER BLESSING RITUAL
- Decide what kind of healing or care you’d like to receive from this ritual. If you’ve been practicing Water Listening (see above) for a few days, you may have observed themes that can tip you off to the kind of support Water may be primed to offer right now.
- If you like, set an aesthetic. Showers can be every bit as lavish and indulgent as baths, oh yes they can. Incorporate all the mood lighting, scents and music you desire into your space. Read a poem (or write one!) to yourself.
- Disrobe, and regard yourself with awe. Find a mirror or reflective surface into which you can gaze. Examine as much of fabulous naked you as is visible in the surface, and find something loving/ inspiring to say about what you see. Address yourself in the second person. If this part feels uncomfortable or unfamiliar, you can keep it as simple as, “There is no one like you. You are unique in all the world. And I love you.”
- Invoke the spirit of Water. Sure, it’s coming out of your faucet. But Water Spirit dwells in the pipes, same as it does in natural reservoirs. Say a few words to honor this spirit. Perhaps something along the lines of, “Oh Living Essence of Water, oh Flowing and Nurturing Spirit, I honor and welcome your generous presence. Guide me to meaningful moments of cleansing, purification, release and _[insert your desire here]_. Speak to the parts of me that flow; my blood, saliva, and all other interior fluids. Let my spirit flow as well, with grace and with ease.”
- Offer a prayer or petition. Ask for something to occur as result of this ritual. If there’s something you need (example: clarity in a difficult situation), make it your unapologetic and confident (yet humble) request. If there’s something you wish to celebrate, set the intent to gratitude in order to amplify the abundance you already feel.
- Turn on the water and step into the shower. The moment the water hits your skin, receive this sensation as your initiation into the practice of Water reverence. Allow the cleansing, the purification, the infusion of nourishment to begin.
- Activate your physical senses. Spend several minutes just letting the water rush over your skin, observing the sensations of temperature, of viscosity, pressure, register in your physical body. Then notice what you see – how the water beads and pools. Next, notice any mineral aromas in the deluge (sulfur? Iron?). Then, open your mouth and let your tongue taste the water. Finally, tune into the sound of the water as it sprays, as it races down the drain.
- Open your heart to the experience. Let Water begin to communicate with your heart and your soul on a deeper level. If it feels right to do so, vocalize a response to any signals or messages you receive. Express that you are ready to receive the gifts of Water, as soon as you have “cleansed” yourself.
- Do your soap / shampoo routine. This is the “normal” part of the shower. You’re moving into final preparation to receive the Water blessing. Take as much time as you need cleansing each area of the body with intention and mindfulness. As you rinse, imagine any resistance you may have to your own power leaving your physical body and energetic space. See or feel that resistance funneling down the drain.
- Receive the Water blessing. With a light and open heart, receive your blessing. Imagine the molecules in the water droplets penetrating into your skin and carrying the gift or the nourishment you need right now. Receive with gratitude and appreciation.
- Turn off the faucet, saying, “Blessed Be.” As you step out of the shower, towel off or air dry in a state of reflection and joy. Journal any messages you wish to remember.
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