Stream Types’ Summary: Strengths, Vulnerabilities, and Tips

Stream Type Strengths Vulnerable if… Tips for this type
A : Steps and Pools (waterfalls, cascades) Powerful. Direct. Awe inspiring. … you’re flowing through or atop “small stuff.”  You’ll erode your own bed and “head-cut” your way upstream. Keep your foundation strong by using your mind’s analytical ability to question any painful thought, asking “is it true?”*(
B:  Rapids Resilient and moderate yet big, big fun. …something creates a “base level” drop by cutting your foundation or destination (a lake, sea, or other river) out from under you.  The resulting head-cut may entrench you deeper and deeper. If you feel an uncharacteristically fast precipitous drop in your life (or the oddly tedious level stretch that goes on one side or the other of it), quickly restore yourself by reshaping and strengthening your foundation at this place/issue. See above.
C: Riffles, Pools, and Point Bars Classic movie-star good-looks +  ability to get tons done (you move your sediment load so efficiently!). … your edges (or the roots that hold them together) get damaged by livestock, developers, or even zealous landscapers. If your banks erode, you quickly become over-wide and shallow which decreases your power — you start dropping your load in the middle of your channel. Your life must maintain a very specific shape — but it’s one that places a lot of stress on your banks — so guard your boundaries. Keep your life the way you want it to be, and protect your buddies, the deep-rooted woody vegetation.
D: Braided You handle a vast supply of sediment downstream of some powerful new beginning, providing a natural transition into some later, more unified life. … anyone wants to direct your course and velocity by digging canals or building up berms to try and define your edges. There are no normal “stable” boundaries with folks like you. Any such changes to your instinctively variable shape and steepness are likely to cause you to down-cut into your still-soft foundation. Don’t let anyone try to civilize you.Remember: moving sediment is a river’s life task. You do this in a big, big way.[The exception: if you are the kind of divided channel that has come about by the recent degradation of another type of channel – then that’s a restoration issue that you’ll want to address. See the advice for gullies, below.]
D-a : Many, stable, connected paths The many threads of your system are anastamosed (interconnected & freely flowing into and out of each other) and so they feed a whole huge web of living things thriving around you. .. anything disrupts the steady, calm connectivity you have between your different channels.Your uniquely stable lifestyle requires a very, very even and wide space to call home. Although the sizes vary, each of your channels tends to be relatively deep. You’re no dilettante. How do you do it all?! Roots and neighbors. Tolerate NO digging into or burying any part of your community: no ditches, canals, elevated roads, railways, or flood control berms. No walls. No abrupt fast times. Stay level. Then your steady, thorough nourishment of your valley and dense-rooted vegetation will in turn stabilize your banks. The result is a symbiotic, rich network of life.
E: Meandering. A lot. But focused. You’re deep — much deeper than you are wide — and so you provide great aquatic habitat (which is why you’re openly worshiped by fly-fishing enthusiasts). … the densely-rooted vegetation along your edges are damaged OR if you are forced to become wider OR if you are cut off from your adjacent floodplain. You take the longest, most sinuous way possible between two points, and even though you move slowly, all those bends direct force laterally. As a result, your banks are vulnerable. Care for yourself in every way. Guard your boundaries. Never hurry. And never get isolated or entrenched — that way, when a flood hits, you can immediately spread out and maintain a leisurely pace. That’s why your life is a paradise for you and all who love you.
F: Self-Sufficient You are independent and an awesome reminder that time and healing are powerful. You operate at a deeper level — down in near-vertical walls you cut for yourself long ago, possibly following some difficult, erosion. … you’re flowing through or atop “small stuff” OR if you’re still in transition — broadening your walls to create space on which to build an accessible floodplain. That’s part of the natural restoration process and it can be messy. But if you’re flowing through the rock solid kind of life built on a mind open to and exploring truth, you are a thing of beauty. If you feel like you’re still eroding, try firming up your foundation by curiously looking at painful thoughts (see advice for “A” types above). You may want to seek some restoration professionals to help you speed up the healing process.
G: Gullying You are adjusting to something pulling the bottom out from under you. You are a stream in transition. … there is no “if.” You’re already raw. If you’re a gully, you know that you’re not only running through a fairly steep stretch in a tight-fitting, narrow channel but also meandering enough to put pressure on your sidewalls. With no access to a floodplain that could help you spread out and slow down, this is a recipe for instability — lots of erosion generating lots of sediment — usually characterized by head-cuts. Rather than wait out the natural devolution-evolution process, you might want to initiate some restoration measures to stop the gullying and promote quicker healing. 1) Give yourself room to spread out and slow down. In nature, gullies lack floodplains. 2) Stabilize yourself and those adjacent areas with roots. Whatever feels supportive, nourishing, and strengthening, plant it in your life and protect it from grazing animals or zealous landscapers. 3) Stop the down-cutting of your foundation. The best techniques for such repairs are those based on nature’s blueprints of healthy channels — preferably on the clues left by your own healthy reference reach/Body Compass** — so interview several different Natural Channel Hydrologists (or therapists/life coaches if you’re a human being!). Choose the one that makes you feel best inside. That person can help you turn this transition into an opportunity to discover and become more joyously true to your own nature.

* All types are stable if they have rock foundation — I urge everyone to check out

**All types can notice any impending damages by tuning up (and regularly staying tuned into) their Body Compass. Visit this post or this one to practice using your internal, always accurate guidance system for asking yourself “does this feel free?”.

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