Hydrotherapy: The Gift of Water

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By: Laura France-Haynes, L.V.N.
Our relationship to the watery element begins before birth while we float, unen­cumbered, in the perfect environment of the amniotic fluid. Our entry into this life is accompanied by the inevitable descent into gravity, wherein the weight of matter affects how we relate to our own bodies. Part of the therapeutic experience of water lies in the temporary levity of once again being held in its buoyant embrace.

In ancient times, the spiritual quali­ties of water were perceived more di­rectly. People spoke of water sprites and undines, experiencing the living quali­ties inherent in water. We can observe these qualities ourselves - the tumbling streams that seem to speak in mellifluous voices, while deep pools have resonant and reflective tones. People of ancient Greece honored those groves which were homes to sacred springs and pools; per­haps the calm surface of a pool gave rise to oracular experiences. At the pool of Bethsaida, the water became healing only when the angelic spirit moved it. Every­where in earlier times there was recogni­tion of the fluid element, both as a spiri­tual mirror and as healing substance.

We now live in a world which ac­tively pollutes streams, lakes, and even oceans, and our tap water is cut off from the air and the sunlight, which would otherwise do so much to enliven it natu­rally. Our question must be how can we make water a therapeutic element again?

First, let's look at the qualities of life which come to expression in and through water. The researcher Theodor Schwenk labored for many years, observing the rhythmical processes which reveal them­selves in water - from the mighty currents in rivers to the effect of drops on a puddle. He called water "the great media­tor," able to conform both to the contours of land or a container, able to accept cold temperatures and become solid, or hot temperatures which then render it a gas. So we see in water plasticity and move­ment, qualities which endow it with el­emental healing properties.

Our own bodies are 90% fluid at birth; only over a lifetime does that de­crease, and then only by 15-20%, as we "dry out." Our bodily processes rely on fluids as the carrier of our blood cells, for transport of gases, nutrition, and chemi­cal messages, and for the dissolution of everything that we take in. This media­tor, water, is also a medium for life forces, constantly flowing with upbuilding streams. When our forces are depleted, or when we want to stimulate and direct their proper functioning, hydrotherapy is our gift from the watery realm.

Here in northern California, the Na­tive Americans knew of the health bring­ing effects of waters bubbling or seeping from the earth's crust. These mineral springs, whose waters are rich in dis­solved substances aid digestion, arthri­tis, and other ills.

But we also need to discover how we can responsibly renew and enliven our tap water. This can be done by using an attenuation "potentizing" process which allows the mixture of sun-warmed plant essential oils to "disperse" into a stream of water.

This is just what pioneer massage therapists Herr and Frau Junge did when they developed the “Jungebad” oil-dis­persion apparatus in the 1930's. A decep­tively simple glass apparatus introduces oil, one drop at a time, into the stream of water already moving in a whirlpool (vor­tex), which then blossoms into another whirlpool as the therapy tub is filled. In this method of "potentizing" the water, lively qualities of warmth and movement are renewed in tap water, now making it suitable for therapeutic use. We can also work with a method to produce the vortex movement by hand, which can be useful for home treatments.





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