“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”
It’s official, a heat wave warning has been issued for the UK this weekend. We thought we would take this opportunity to think about the importance of water from both a scientific and spiritual point of view.
Water really is the elixir of life. Nearly 60% our body is H2O and we would die without it. In fact everything would die without it. It is essential for many of our body processes including our circulation, metabolism and temperature balance.
Dehydration makes us feel sluggish and tired. It affects our brains reducing our concentration, memory and ability to perform tasks. Becoming dehydrated can result in significant harm, Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), drops in blood pressure and changes in the salt levels in the body. It increases the risk of Urinary tract infections, constipation and kidney stones.
The symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration are dark urine and dry mucus membranes especially the mouth and tongue. Headaches, lethargy and fatigue are common. As the dehydration progresses the skin dries out, muscles feel weak and the person may feel dizzy.
People with severe dehydration can present with changes to the skin, sunken eyes and a lack of tears. Babies may develop sunken fontanelles (the soft spot on the top of their head.) Unless the person is treated, the blood pressure will drop, heart rate accelerate and ultimately the person will fall into unconsciousness!
All of the symptoms described above can be prevented by staying well hydrated.
You will not be surprised to hear that very few people do this. The “NHS Eat Well Guide” tells us we should drink 6-8 glasses of water per day. In fact we also get water from our food so we should think in terms of total water intake. An excellent 2018 study set out to work out exactly how much water an adult human needs. They found that when total water intake was less than 1.8 litres in 24hours a neuroendocrine defence of body water was triggered. In other words the body started to make changes designed to preserve water.
When we say water, any fluids count, including coffee, alcohol and sugar-free drinks. Caffeine and
alcohol are both diuretics and will make you pee more. This can contribute to dehydration. In addition avoid high sugar drinks as these will cause a blood glucose roller coaster.
From the spiritual perspective water is immensely powerful, both physically, as those in parts of Europe have tragically experienced in the last few days, and symbolically. Water represents life, birth, purity and cleansing. Again the cleansing is both physical and spiritual. We can harness the power of visualisation using water to wash away dirt and germs that we do not want on our bodies, possessions and surroundings. We can also use it to wash away any unwanted thoughts and feelings that are holding us back. The act of visualising is us deciding that that is what we are doing. Mentally preparing ourselves.
We can make the decision to start afresh with a new, clean perspective.
After altercations or upsetting situations we can wash away feelings of guilt and shame. When something is weighing us down it can wash away these burdens. If we have become unhealthily attached to something, a possession or a need water can help to cleanse of this.
Every time we step into water we can allow it to cleanse both the body and the psyche. Washing away all the negative thoughts and feelings. All of our attachments. Everything that is weighing us down. Making this part of our healthy rituals encourages self-awareness and mindfulness and hugely enhances our resilience and wellbeing.
Use the cleansing power of water regularly in your daily life. When you step into the shower use the opportunity to wash away any ruminations about the past and worries about the future. Imagine the water as white light that is cascading down onto you. Feel any negative thoughts or feelings wash away, see them as dirt being washed from your skin. All wants and desires, all burdens and responsibilities all worries and anxieties washed away leaving you fresh and present in the moment.
This weekend make sure you are well hydrated, in the heat our total water intake will increase as we lose more water in breathing and keeping cool.
Alcohol is a fluid and therefore counts towards our total water intake but it is also a diuretic and can contribute to dehydration. For every alcoholic drink have a non-alcoholic one as well!
If you exercise, do it earlier in the morning and drink water before you go as well as when you get back.
Don’t forget pets and plants they will suffer in the heat. Make sure pets have plenty of fresh water throughout the day. Water your plants early morning or later in the evening. Watering in the heat of the day is ineffective as most of it evaporates away leaving the plants thirsty.
Finally do not underestimate the power of water. If you are spending time at the seaside be careful in the water. Riptides and currents can be unpredictable and dangerous.
For a wonderful, cleansing waterfall meditation see ‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ from Sheldon Press.
 Adan A. Cognitive performance and dehydration. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Apr;31(2):71-8.  Armstrong, L. E., & Johnson, E. C. (2018). Water Intake, Water Balance, and the Elusive Daily Water Requirement. Nutrients, 10(12), 1928.