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being beside the water

//being beside the water
being beside the water 2017-05-06T18:35:29+00:00

Project Description

In today’s time one often turns to water for a sense of calm and clarity. We spend our vacations on the beach; get exercise and enjoyment from water sports like surfing, scuba diving, sailing, and swimming; we refresh ourselves with long showers and soothing baths, and we like to build our lives and homes around being near the coastline. Our affinity for water is even reflected in the near-universal attraction to the color blue. We’re naturally drawn to aquatic hues.

The color blue is overwhelming chosen as the favorite color of people around the world, and marketing research has found that people tend to associate it with qualities like calm, openness, depth and wisdom.     Wallace Nichols, a marine biologist, believes that we all have a “blue mind” — as he puts it, “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace-fulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment” — that’s triggered when we’re in or near water.

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           “We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken,” Nichols writes in Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, published in 2014. “We have a ‘blue mind’ — and it’s perfectly tailored to make us happy in all sorts of ways that go way beyond relaxing in the surf, listening to the murmur of a stream, or floating quietly in a pool.”

Nichols explains  how water can heal the mind and body and help you tap into your most calm and creative state of being.

Here are six important benefits of finding your “Blue Mind.”

Being near and around water gives our brains and senses a rest from overstimulation.   “The sound around us, from an auditory perspective, is simplified. It’s not quiet, but the sound of water is far more simple than the sound of voices or the sound of music or the sound of a city,” says Nichols. “And the visual input is simplified. When you stand at the edge of water and look out on the horizon, it’s visually simplified relative to the room you’re sitting in right now, or a city you’re walking through, where you’re taking in millions of pieces of information every second.”

Many of us love to sit near the ocean or a river and gaze out at the water — often, we can sit for long periods simply observing the gentle movements of the water. Why is that? Though we may not be conscious of it, the water could be inducing a mildly meditative state of calm focus and gentle awareness.

Being in a mindful state — in which the brain is relaxed but focused — benefits the mind and body on a number of different levels. A growing body of research has found myriad benefits associated with mindfulness, including lower stress levels, relief from mild anxiety, pain and depression, improved mental clarity and focus, and better sleep quality.

Many of us love to sit near the ocean or a river and gaze out at the water — often, we can sit for long periods simply observing the gentle movements of the water. Why is that? Though we may not be conscious of it, the water could be inducing a mildly meditative state of calm focus and gentle awareness.

Being in a mindful state — in which the brain is relaxed but focused — benefits the mind and body on a number of different levels. A growing body of research has found myriad benefits associated with mindfulness, including lower stress levels, relief from mild anxiety, pain and depression, improved mental clarity and focus, and better sleep quality.

Hopping in the shower, as many people know, can be a great way to trigger ideas when our brains are in a creative rut. In our always-busy, screen-saturated lives, we don’t give our minds much of a chance to rest and wander freely. But when we do, the mind switches into a different mode of engagement, known as the default mode network — the brain network associated with daydreaming, imagination, consolidation of memories, self-referential thought, insight and introspection. The default mode network is extremely important for creativity — which is often why we find that when we turn off our brains for a moment and get in the shower, activating that default network, that we suddenly come up with the insights and ideas that eluded us while we were sitting at our computers desperately searching for the solution.

“The shower is a proxy for the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean,” says Nichols. “You step in the shower, and you remove a lot of the visual stimulation of your day. Auditorily, it’s the same thing — it’s a steady stream of ‘blue noise.’ You’re not hearing voices or processing ideas. You step into the shower and it’s like a mini-vacation.”

Rather than switching off, when you’re showering, your brain switches into a different mode — and while the brain is in a more restful state, suddenly you’re able to make those new or unusual connections. The “Eureka” moment comes at last — the insight or solution “feels like it drops out of the sky and into your head,” says Nichols.

“We know that water — being surrounded by blue space — helps us relax, and we know that exercise is good for our bodies and our brains,” says Nichols. “If somebody is experiencing a number of problems that exercise and stress reduction may help with, water is a good add-on. Find a beach and run there, or get on a bike, or row or swim.”

Being outside near water while you’re exercising will potentially give you more of a mental boost than exercising in a crowded, hectic gym environment with TVs in front of you and people all around. Many people feel intuitively that being in the presence water provides tangible benefits for their well-being, and as Nichols explains, their instincts are right.

“It’s almost too obvious, and it gets overlooked,” says Nichols. “But the health and neurological benefits of exercise by water are very real.”