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Flowing with Transitions

I was already writing to you about transitions when I got the tragic news that a dear colleague, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols (aka “J”) – the beloved scientist who championed the healing power of water and creator of the Blue Mind Movement – has passed away suddenly. With a tender heart, my reflections feel even more poignant.

Whether you’re grieving J’s (or another) loss or facing any other transition – be it moving, a career change, financial struggles, health issues, heartbreak, aging etc. – surrendering to life’s changes and your own vulnerability can ease your suffering.

The serenity prayer reminds us: “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

While the only constant in life is change itself, modern culture conditions us to resist it, control circumstances, stay busy, and numb our emotions. But our issues are in our tissues, so if we deny, repress, or ignore our feelings, there is no chance for healing. Instead, they manifest as tension, dis-ease, conflict, and the dimming of your life force and spirit.

Resisting transitions is like damming a river: it leads to stagnation. Joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, gain and loss are the certain cycles of life – letting ourselves experience them as well as witnessing with kindness the passing waves of emotions strengthen our spirit, promote resilience, and grow empathy and compassion.

Being fully present with life’s transitions with an open heart reveals the wonders of each moment: the smile of a child, the bite of a sweet strawberry, and the beings who shower you with love everyday – from the friendly cashier at the store to an adoring pet, a beloved friend / partner, or the sun – who brings vitality to your spirit and nourishes life on Earth.

When transitions are deeply painful and switching gears from heartache to wonder isn’t possible, it’s important to find grounding through embodied experiences, such as gentle movement (i.e. Qi Gong), opening the senses with Mother Nature, and seeking support from loved ones, groups, and spiritual community.

Just like the seasons and cycles of nature, transitions are a fact of life, so learning to flow with them can be a profound practice in compassion, acceptance, and resilience. And just like the darkest hour gives rise to dawn and Winter nurtures seeds for growth in the Spring and Summer, the stormy clouds of our existence – from personal to global – inevitably pass for new clouds to emerge and perhaps even a sunny day as we celebrate another solstice.

J’s passion for the ocean and our blue planet was / is inspirational and contagious. He revealed the magic of flow in our nervous system and the power of gratitude by sharing millions of recycled blue marbles around the world, a practice I’ve embraced with glee since learning it from J in 2014 when he gifted us with his presence at a Love Thy Nature Film screening. J bathed all those who knew him with kindness, brilliance, and a fierce heart – determined to make our world a better place. And that, he did.

J, you might have had a short life, but your essence has touched our world with a depth only comparable to the sea itself. May your teachings and oceanic love continue to transform our world.

Sending love and healing to J’s wife Dana, and daughters Grayce and Julia.

Using J’s words, “I wish you water.”

To help continue Dr. Wallace J. Nichols’s work and legacy, consider contributing to his memorial fund here.

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