River Thames in London; photo courtesy @VisitBritain
Water has a profound impact on us. The human body is mostly made of water, about 70 per cent, and we cannot survive more than than a few days without it. Coincidently, 70 per cent of the earth is covered with water. A large portion of the population lives on a waterfront. Tourists travel all over the earth to see or bathe in bodies of water.
Water has many benefits. It impacts our mood. It is cathartic and healing. We meditate and reflect next to it. We play and exercise along beaches and shorelines. We sail and cruise on big bodies of water. There are sacred, holy rivers that appear in religious texts, and are used for rites of passage, such as baptism and spreading ashes after death.
Poets write about it; consider R.W. Emerson's brilliant poem, Water. It is a recurring theme in literature (e.g.) Avalon. In mythology and folklore, holy wells or sacred springs are entrances to other worlds. The fantastical "Fountain of Youth" for centuries has had believers thinking we can stop the aging process - if only!
What's more, water boosts our creativity and inspiration. When we are inspired and feel invigorated, we can unleash our creative genius. This is key to following our heart's desires and having a fulfilling life.
As a traveller, I like to seek out places near magical water sites where I can recharge my energy and get inspired for my creative work. It especially helps me get out of a rut. I'm not a beach bum, though. Mostly, I like to walk near the water, and meditate and reflect as I go. This kind of meditate walk has been the most effective way for me to dig deep into my creative reservoir.
Lake Geneva at early dawn
If you are in a rut or want to find your creative juices again, consider travelling to a place near water where many others have found inspiration, and tap into that energy. Here are some ideas:
1. Ganges River, India: the sacred and holy Ganges River is India's longest river and has great importance in Hinduism. Millions of Hindus come here annually to bathe in the water to wash away their sins, and be freed from the death-rebirth cycle. The sacred, historical city of Varanasi along the Ganges banks is impressive, and people visit from all over to practice yoga and visit temples that are centuries old. It has inspired many creative works.
2. Lake Geneva, Switzerland: Geneva, Switzerland, the "capital of peace," sits on Lake Geneva, which is snuggled in the Alps and shared between Switzerland and France, Lake Geneva has a long history of inspiring artists. Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein was written here. Deep Purple's song Smoke on the Water was sparked when a hotel on the lake caught fire. Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn and David Bowie lived nearby, and today singer/songwriter Shania Twain owns a castle in the area. Geneva's promenade offers a pleasant experience to stroll and meditate.
3. River Thames, London: the longest river in the U.K., the banks of the Thames in London, particularly, has for centuries drawn many artists, has rich history and, of course, is popular for rowing. There is something magical about walking along London's riverbanks, where one can soak in the amazing historical architecture. When I lived in London in the late '80s, every Sunday morning, my ritual was to walk along the banks to meditate and reflect - a time I treasure.
4. Lake Ontario, Toronto: For those who either cannot or would rather not travel to get the creative inspiration that water offers, we have, of course, a fabulous lake in our own backyard. Best of all, it is free.
Geneva harbour during the day
Shannon Skinner is an award-winning television and radio show host, international speaker, author, who lives to travel and write about it. For information on her speaking engagements and interviews, visit: www.ShannonSkinner.com and www.ExtrarodinaryWomenTV.com. Tweet to her at @Shannon_Skinner.
Photo credit: River Thames courtesy @VisitBritain. Lake Geneva photos are courtesy my Canon.
This article was originally published in Toronto Waterfront Magazine (winter 2017)