Good Vibes On The Water
“I thought, ‘I need to do a retreat for women out here on the water. This is a place where they can heal.’”
water is an essential element of our survival. Numerous studies and books pondering our bond with nature have explored the science behind human’s instinctive attraction to water, confirming theories that our DNA is seemingly programmed to seek the life-sustaining substance. We drink it, bathe in it, cleanse with it, derive power from it, grow crops with it, play in it, and gaze at it with all the reverence of a child looking upon their mother. A certain mystique surrounds some waterways. In culturally rich places like New Orleans, the Ganges, or the Nile, delta water provides the setting for practices steeped in the belief that the water contains magical properties. The symbolism of a constant, flowing stream breaking over rocks and pushing earth along until it’s released into a larger body of water, is a powerful connotation by itself. Yet, it’s the permeating energy created by this natural force that drew Michelle Powell Evans to her current home on the water in Discovery Bay. It’s from this location that she guides people into the water to experience its cleansing power—the power to break through, same as the delta tributaries that escape into the ocean.
Michelle grew up in San Diego, raised by extremely health-conscious parents who fed her all-natural foods and resorted to alternative health practitioners for most ailments. Says Michelle, “As a young girl, it was awful to see my friends eating Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs as I ate my sprouts and avocado sandwich. I would go to sleepovers and be excited to devour a huge bowl of junk cereal for breakfast because my mom made her own granola. I went through periods of time where I was feeling a great deal of pain inside, and the way I chose to deal with it was by indulging in sugar. My mother became concerned when I began to frequently get dizzy and pass out. My first experience with muscle testing was with a chiropractor who was diagnosing my sensitivity to sugar. I was fascinated by the process.”
Muscle testing is also referred to as applied kinesiology (AK) or manual muscle testing (MMT). It is an alternative medicine practice that is used to diagnose structural, muscular, chemical, and mental ailments. This tool for healing was the first Michelle learned. She would go on to learn transcendental meditation and transformative energy work. Michelle shares, “It took me decades of seeking answers. I would go through periods of stress that resulted in panic attacks or physical manifestations like painful rashes. I started working with Janette VanLeer who taught me a spiritually centered modality that gets to the root of the issues that keep people stuck, frustrated, depressed, and anxious. After learning much about myself, I also learned that it is my life’s purpose to help others from being stuck like I was for so long.”
“Something about that water combined with Michelle’s calming words, gave us the freedom to express our deepest thoughts and feelings, drawing it out of everyone in attendance.”
Michelle compares our complete body and essence to a garden full of gorgeous flowers. Within this garden, in order to maintain its beauty, the weeds must be eradicated. It’s the deeply rooted weeds that need to be attended to most. Says Michelle, “Six years ago, it was my birthday and I decided I wanted to go paddleboarding out here on the water. A friend lived here, so I called and asked if my husband Brook and I could leave from their dock. As I paddled through the calm waters and the sun was setting, a sudden wave came over me, so strong it brought tears to my eyes. I was floating in front of the home that would become mine, feeling totally connected to it. I knew I would launch my paddleboard business from that very spot. I thought, ‘I need to do a retreat for women out here on the water. This is a place where they can heal. I’m going to find out what’s causing their anguish, and I’m going to help them release it into the water, to be carried away forever.’ When I relayed what I was thinking to my husband, he thought my idea was ambitious since we didn’t live out here, and I only owned one paddleboard and one oar. Still, I was going to make it happen. That’s the moment Good Vibes on the Water sprung to life.”
The weed that pops up in Michelle’s garden far too often is self-doubt and negative talk. Suffering from learning disabilities throughout her younger life left her with low self-esteem. Her life has improved with the realization that she has been successful in her mission to help other’s break through their own self-imposed barriers. “I watch people come through my front door a frazzled mess. I get them out on the water and have the honor of watching them leave as a different person. Out on the board, you can cry, yell, let it all out, this water is a perfect conduit of energy. The yucky stuff comes out and flows away.”
One Wednesday evening just before sunset, a group of about 15 women paddled from Michelle’s dock out into a calm slough filled with newly hatched ducklings, egrets, and butterflies. The guided meditation had each of us picking a color along with a word that was significant to us. It had to be a positive word, representing a state we hoped to attain; like faithful, patient, trusting, or enough. Afterwards, we shared our visions with the group. Something about that water combined with Michelle’s calming words, gave us the freedom to express our deepest thoughts and feelings, drawing it out of everyone in attendance. I have never witnessed so much honesty and ease of sharing. As the sun fell into the tule, we paddled back toward the dock—a little lighter.
“What I am doing melds science with Eastern medicine practices, bringing positive solutions and proven results beneficial to your well-being. ”
Much like the ripples spreading across the water as we climb off our boards, Michelle believes by impacting just one person, it will start a wave that spreads throughout our community. Good Vibes on the Water advertises almost exclusively on social media but has begun to gain traction through word of mouth. In addition to offering the sunset meditations, you can choose to do morning or midday sessions—all are available March through November, weather permitting.
Michelle also conducts board yoga classes, day retreats, and energy workshops. In her one-on-one sessions, she utilizes tapping and muscle testing techniques to hone in on exactly what is troubling you. Together, she works with you to fix these issues. Watching her narrow down the topics of concern personal to your life is intriguing.
Certain books sit before her, picked in advance of your arrival. She refers to them as needed, for clarification, so that she may advise you on how to navigate your situation. She doesn’t claim to be a healer, but more of a guide, helping you to see what you need to work on to bring yourself back to good. Through a series of questions, she gets to the crux of the problem, focusing on what is ailing you right now. More finger motions to direct her and she’s opening a book, reading you a statement that sheds light on why you are in that predicament. It is a fast-paced unveiling process that leaves you astounded. And when you leave, you leave illuminated with a better understanding of yourself.
“I use the term ‘woo-woo’ for people who aren’t familiar with energy and how it affects our psyche. Negative thoughts can implant negative energy into us that literally hurts. The COVID-19 pandemic left a negative impression on all of us, it has left lasting ickiness throughout our community. I’m not out here doing any woo-woo ceremony or pretending to solve all your problems. What I am doing melds science with Eastern medicine practices, bringing positive solutions and proven results beneficial to your well-being. I’m guiding you toward restoring your energy to a balanced state, where you will feel good again.”
As the ladies were preparing to leave that Wednesday night after baring their souls to strangers, now new friends—I could hear hushed whispers coming from some of them. I heard, “I think my being here tonight was meant to be,” and from another, “I needed to say that for so long.” A cathartic moment had happened. The wind swept across the deck, rustling the reeds as they swayed in the water below. The sun winked and disappeared, and in the glimmer from the newly risen moon, I could see slight ripples of the tide flowing west, away and toward the ocean.