By Taylor McLagan
People are naturally attracted to the ocean, as evidenced by the millions who visit the coast each year to bask in the sun and enjoy the many experiences it offers. It seems that there is a part of everyone that is drawn to water, but why? Is it the delicious seafood restaurants, the variety of water activities, or the social events that take place? Or is it something deeper, like the soothing sound of the waves or the beautiful sunset views?
Humans have a special connection with water, and many of us turn to it for inspiration and mental clarity. The calming sounds of water provide a welcome break from the constant noise and stimulation of modern life. When we visit places like the beach or lakefront, we process the simpler visual input more easily than the overwhelming sights of a city. This simplified sensory experience allows our brains to rest and focus, resulting in numerous physical and mental health benefits, including reduced stress levels and relief from anxiety. Listening to the sound of waves creates a soft focus – much like one has during a yoga practice or meditative state.
A new theory has emerged that may explain some of the reasons why we feel such a deep connection to the water. Dr. Wallace Nicholas, a Marine Biologist, has recently introduced the 'Blue Mind' theory. He switched his focus from studying sea turtles to researching the connection between humans and water, particularly blue water. According to Nicholas, a 'blue mind' is a meditative state that occurs when we are near, in, on, or under water. It counteracts the 'red mind,' which is the anxious, over-connected, and over-stimulated state that has become the norm in modern life. Studies have shown that spending time near water is crucial for achieving prolonged happiness. The good news is that you can use the Blue Mind theory during your everyday life.
Consider these activities if you want to fully immerse yourself and connect with the numerous benefits of water:
Take a Bath
Ancient cultures such as Egypt, China, and India used so-called immersion therapy, or water therapy, as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. There is scientific and cultural evidence that bathing in local waters and immersing yourself in waterways has a major impact on mental health. One study recorded by the National Library of Medicine, “Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body” found that spa baths lowered salivary cortisol levels in college students; hot tubs and five-minute hot showers significantly reduced anxiety levels; and hydrotherapy reduced psychological stress and physical symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. So, go for a plunge the next time you need a break from the stressors of everyday life!
Learn to Surf
Surfing is a great and fun way to connect with the ocean. You don't just rely on your skill set, but on the waves themselves. Surfing in the ocean has often been talked about among surfers as a zen-like experience that is highly addictive. With intense body movement in the form of paddling, swimming, and core strength required, surfing is a great way to exercise and strengthen your body. Surfing is also a fantastic mood booster because it allows you to completely refocus your mind and let go of any stress and anxiety you are facing throughout the day. It allows your brain to focus on one thing - finding and riding waves.
Go for a Swim
Swimming is a great way to put yourself in a meditative state. Just like yoga, when you swim in the water your muscles stretch and relax, combined with deep breathing techniques can help any type of swimmer achieve a form of motor meditation. Floating meditation, when you're surrounded and supported by floating water, is a great mindfulness meditation practice that's easy to do during general pool time. This response allows your body to rest and your mind to relax and focus on the soft sensation of floating and your breathing.
While this is a normal requirement of a healthy lifestyle, staying hydrated is more important than you might think. The human body is 60 to 78 percent water, and the brain alone is about 80 percent water. In that peaceful blue state of mind, you are not able to achieve a state of calm and tranquility if you're dehydrated, so it's no surprise that getting enough water is necessary for a healthy brain. Therefore, making sure to drink enough water will promote positive physical and mental health.
Take A Nap By The Ocean
Our brains hear different sounds whether we are awake or asleep. The slow roar of the waves crashing against the shore can soothe the mind as it puts our consciousness into a meditative state, giving us a sense of tranquility and safety. Taking a nap on the beach can often lead to a deep sleep as it draws out the alarming sounds of real life, and instead lets our brain focus on the soft sounds of waves crashing on the shore.
The vast benefits we gain from water and the ocean go beyond what we drink and eat; they are physical, emotional, spiritual, and creative. What we gain from healthy water helps us connect within.