Standing at the shore’s edge in my hometown of Newport Beach, California, I am once again overtaken by the sensations of peace and happiness coursing through my body. My breath is heavy, my hair is dripping, my skin is soaked in salt. I feel at one with the world and at peace with myself and all that is happening in my life, chaos included. This is what the ocean does to me. It makes me feel like everything is okay, better than okay—like everything is in perfect unison. It strips away the worry and doubt and leaves me feeling refreshed, renewed, awakened.
It was a hectic week back from Mexico with my daughter sleeping well on the first flight and wreaking havoc on the second. I couldn’t have been more grateful to see the beach when I arrived in California. Ever since I was a little girl, going to the beach and jumping in the ocean has been essential—a normalcy I couldn’t, and can’t, live without.
The ocean has always been my remedy for relieving tension, stress and anxiety. As soon as I jump in, my worries are lost in the depths of the water.
Since moving away from my family home in California, it has been imperative that I live no further than a bike ride away from the beach. I need easy access to the water at all times.
I can't help but notice how many others clearly feel the same way I do. Surfers, swimmers, kids with a grin from ear to ear... It seems that the beach and the ocean are medicinal for many. This inspired me to do some research in discovering just how science plays a part in our love for the sea.
With new technology available, scientists have been able to delve into the depths of the human brain to help understand why we do what we do. These advancements in recent years have allowed us to study and expand what we know about human perception, emotions, empathy, creativity, health, healing, and our relationship with the water.
Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols believes we all have a “blue mind” that is “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.” This is triggered when we’re in or near water.
“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 explains. “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.”
Turning to nature for health and happiness is a beautiful and pure reaction to it's incredible and powerful resources.
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