Water is the universal symbol for emotion. Deep dark waters are used as a metaphor for subconscious unchecked feelings and emotions, waves as in the waves of emotion that come and go and bubbly waters as in the joyous state of a young child.

Like water our emotions may at one moment be calm and serene and at another rocky and angry. We might float along on a happy emotion, or be swept away by anger, we might experience small emotional ups and downs, or a big wave of sadness and hopelessness might dump us.

It is believed that our emotions are actually carried in the water of our bodies — our tears, sweat, blood, and moist breath and that emotions are received and processed by the brain as wavelengths of information.

Emotions are energy in motion, that send waves of information from heart to brain and back again.

We are all made of water, and so we can liken many of the properties of water as a reflection of our own inner liquid realms. Like the liquid states of water, so too our emotions can become frozen or blocked in our bodies.

Boiling water is rather like those intense emotional states we experience and gaseous water could be likened to the times our emotions aren’t allowed to occupy our bodies for one reason or another.

In an ideal healthy state, all our emotions can flow steadily through us at a rate that is comfortable for us to process. Indeed we want all emotions to be available to us as a way of understanding our fullest capacity as human beings.

We can liken ourselves to a river of well being. To see ourselves reflected in water can help us understand, process and unfold some deeply seeded emotional states. When floating in warm water for example, latent or frozen emotions that were perhaps linked to past memories, can safely begin to melt and be accessed anew.

Recent understanding of emotion and its importance in maintaining well balanced and intelligent human beings, has lead to the introduction of emotional and social education curricula in schools.

What if by acknowledging just how important emotional intelligence is, we actually took to the pool as the natural environment par excellence to safely explore, discover and evolve our emotional selves?

The pool could be used as a mapping arena to safely explore our emotions and return them to a pleasant liquid state.

This can look like baby swimming style activities that evoke certain type of emotions or actually interacting with water emotionally.

“What is the water feeling today?” is the question I always ask both children and parents at the beginning of class.

The strength of this question is twofold. It gets people to see water as an interactive medium that has its own entity, as well as checking into their own feelings and emotions.

What usually gets projected onto water, is the state of our own emotional affairs whether we are conscious of it or not.

Kick, tickle, hug, kiss, stroke, pinch, lick, thank, ask the water are all actions that evoke an emotional response in people.

Crucial when working in water is that we are aware of our own emotions. Water amplifies emotions which transmit energies to others in the pool.

Denying or being uncomfortable with certain emotions compromises our effectiveness as aquatic therapists and educators.

Developing our emotional capacity and the language that supports emotional intelligence is part of the Water Happy approach.

Water Happy is an emotional approach in water.