Splash! A Swimming Pool for Peace

Water is the source of life. It is a versatile solvent, conducts electricity, can be a solid, a liquid, or a gas. If water did not evaporate, we would not have clouds, rain, plants or, for that matter, any living thing. Covering more than 70 percent of the earth, this magnificent element is the most abundant substance on the surface of the planet.

Just like the earth, 60 to 70 percent of the human body mass is water; the brain is composed of 70 to 80 percent water, and the lungs are nearly 90 percent water. Muscle tissue contains about 75 percent water by weight, and all the cells in our body are about 90 percent water, which allows them to absorb valuable nutrients, minerals, and chemicals in biological processes. About 80 to 85 percent of our blood is water, helping to digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature.

Water is our natural habitat. That is why we are healthier, happier, and more peaceful in and by the water. Beyond our basic need for drinking water, the sight of water, the sound of water and the touch of water on our skin can contribute to our physical and mental well-being.

Today we also know that information travels through water. Composed of crystals that allow light to travel at incredible speeds through the organism, water acts as container and transmitter of information. As shown in the experiments of Japanese author and entrepreneur Masaru Emoto, our thoughts and actions have an effect on the molecular structure of water. Mind over matter: Our bodies, being 70 percent water, are mostly the result of the information contained in our thoughts, actions, and experiences throughout our lives. If we set it as a purpose and provide this information to our brain, can water heal our physical and mental conditions? If its healing powers are used at the collective level, can it create peace in a community?

On October 17, 2012 a “Swimming Pool for Peace” was inaugurated by the International Brain Education Association in Distrito Italia, a school located on the outskirts of San Salvador which has one of the highest levels of crime and poverty in El Salvador. The inauguration was officiated by Salvador Sánchez Cerén, El Salvador’s vice president, with representatives of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Containing over 62,000 gallons of water, this is the only swimming pool in the region, an oasis in the midst of violence and difficulties. The pool is the result of a huge collective effort during the course of six months, including fundraising in Japan, the United States, and Korea; the local government’s engagement with machinery and materials; the provision of water by the Salvadorian agency for water and electricity; and the hands of the local community including students, teachers, and their families, who did all the initial construction work.

The Swimming Pool for Peace is part of IBREA’s wider effort to bring brain education, a brain-based methodology combining Eastern energy principles and neuroscience, to El Salvador as a way to help eradicate violence and create healthy and harmonious communities. Brain education works at physical, emotional, and cognitive levels, with the ultimate goal of actualizing the human brain’s great value for its innate purpose of creating health, happiness, and peace at individual and collective levels. A large stone plaque at its entrance showing a quote by Ilchi Lee, president of IBREA, serves to remind the community about the root and purpose of this initiative:

A Swimming Pool for Peace

Discover your great intrinsic value and manifest that value in your lives. Only then, will you create peace inside yourselves, in your community, your country, and the world. Always be proud of your pioneering work in Distrito Italia for global peace.

But this project represents not just a theoretical question. It’s dealing with real issues. Through daily swimming classes for its over 1,500 students and by opening its doors to the general public during the weekends, this 12.5 x 22.5–meter space has been created to ignite the peace process in Distrito Italia. It is a place for both discipline and hard work, and for play and conviviality.

The restorative powers of water have been recognized and acclaimed for ages. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, emphasized its curative powers. The Greeks prescribed bathing in natural springs as a cure for disease and as a way to increase vigor and vitality. They filled their town centers with healing baths, springs, and fountains next to their great medical sanctuaries and erected beautiful buildings around them, making them also a place for social gathering and communication. So did the Romans and the Turks. Nowadays, water therapies in spas and pools of all kinds are increasingly popular worldwide and are used in physical and psychological rehabilitation.

Whether associated with calmness and tranquility, or strength and vitality, water has been shown by modern research to have powerful effects on the human mind and spirit. Being in the water makes a person feel 90 percent lighter than their actual weight, and because water creates more resistance against the body than air does, the muscles and joints are strengthened and increase their flexibility. Swimming also significantly enhances core strength, which is important to overall health and stability in everyday life. A properly structured swimming workout also provides great improvements to the cardiovascular system, increasing the heart’s capability of pumping blood efficiently. Swimming is also good for the mind and spirit. The methodical repetition of swimming combined with its nonimpact nature creates a soothing, relaxing effect, and reduces stress levels. Science has proven that swimming for more than 20 minutes gives the brain a workout in a way that stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals. It signals the body to release pain-killing, euphoria-producing endorphins that promote a sense of well-being.

As students and teachers come and play together in the pool, the feeling of relaxation and comfort in turn helps the communication among them. A good swim can clear the mind and calm the spirit, giving brains a chance to face problems and arrive at creative solutions. The school leadership has already established a schedule for the pool’s use, giving every class a chance almost on a daily basis to make use of it. The discipline it takes students and teachers to commit and push themselves through regular workouts in the pool improves their self-esteem, instills confidence and inspires dedication to taking care of themselves in all facets of life.

After a few weeks of visiting Distrito Italia every day, the IBREA team could already observe many happy faces and a more peaceful environment in the school. How the space is used and managed is now the key to achieve the pool’s main purpose in the long run. Edwin Perez, the school’s principal, has already been asked by local groups, “So when will it be our turn to use the swimming pool?” Charging an entrance fee during weekends will provide funds for the maintenance of the swimming pool. This will be a challenge as well as an opportunity to bring the community together. Who finances its maintenance? How much time do I get? Should the entrance be free? To whom? Who makes that call? They will have to find the answers to all these questions.

Through hard work and dedication, we have created something real and tangible that helps the local community in Distrito Italia improve their physical and mental health. By being in the water, they can be more themselves. By being together in the water, they can come closer to each other and enhance their communication. By taking care of their shared space, they can create harmony.

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We believe that neuroscience is the next great scientific frontier, and that advances in understanding the nature of the brain, consciousness, behavior, and health will transform human life in this century.

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