My Blue Mind Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. — W. H. Auden You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here. — Alan Watts
If you wonder what inspires me to create certain subject matter it can be complex. I’ve surfed and skied all my life. My morning ritual is a hot shower…back to the warm womb of water. My backpacking trips usually included lakes and streams. I love jacuzzis and steam rooms. Water is much of a fascination as opposed to being just a fear, like big waves, but there is much more to it, so thus the long-time creation of water studies into artworks. Water is a cool color, usually blue, one of my favorite colors. I find it as being most appealing, as the water, a life form, beckons me to be drawn towards it.
There is something magical and magnetic about being near water whether it be the ocean, rivers, or other bodies of water. Apart from the practical reasons that our bodies need water to survive and that water is necessary for many other functions of day-to-day living, this factor of appeal and being drawn to water has gone on for many thousands of years.
When you consider the fact that our bodies consist of almost 70% water, it is clear that just on a biological level there is a key connection to water, based on likeness alone.
For most people, looking at water triggers the body into releasing chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland and they help one to relax, reduce pain and make you feel good. Endorphins can reduce stress and anxiety. Because of this, water can genuinely give you a “feel-good” feeling. Think of how many times you have sat or stood looking out over the water and felt calmer and less stressed as a result. Undoubtedly you have observed other people doing the same.
I believe one factor that plays a part in drawing people to water is “rhythm”. By that, I mean if you are near the ocean there is a rhythmic or recurring motion that occurs such as waves repeatedly flowing in and flowing out – there is a continuous repeated motion. In a river, the water is repeatedly flowing which creates its own but different rhythm. The recurring lapping water on the edges of the rivers or lakes is another kind of rhythmic action. Water that is static and has much less recurring motion or flow (less rhythm), while still valued, seems to be less appealing than water with motion and rhythm.
Water with its own rhythmic pattern generally produces yet another form of rhythm which is that of sound – moving water produces a regular and repeated pattern of sound. Think of the crashing waves in the ocean or the sound of a bubbling brook or river. This sound has a calming and relaxing effect as well – or at least adds to the rhythmic effects of water.
Rhythmic motion or action seems to play a pretty important part in making people feel relaxed, calmer, less stressed, or simply feel good and thus adds to the appeal and draw of water. Look at the rhythmic actions of kids going back and forward on a swing, sitting in a rocking chair going back and forward, and rocking a baby back and forward. There are so many other examples of rhythmic action that people like to do in life, it could be concluded that rhythm is considered, knowingly or unknowingly, as a key part of helping to relax, relieve stress or make you feel better in some way.
But people tend to have a tolerance for how much rhythm they like to have. If the rhythmic motion or rhythmic sound is not enough or more than they can tolerate then the calming, relaxing and other beneficial qualities of that rhythm become less. You don’t generally see people going to a raging ocean or flooding stream to relax and calm down.
The ocean has always been my remedy for relieving tension, stress, and anxiety. As soon as I jump in my worries are lost. Since moving away from Santa Barbra California, to go to SAIC, 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.
When I truly began comprehending the healing power of the ocean, I couldn’t help but notice how many others felt the same way I did. Surfers, swimmers, kids with a grin from ear to ear… it became apparent that the ocean serves as medicine for many. All of this inspired me to discover just how science plays a part in our love for the sea.
Scientists have been able to delve into the depths of the human brain to help understand why we do what we do. Advancements made in recent years have allowed us to study and expand what we know about human perception, emotions, empathy, creativity, health, healing, and, in this case, our relationship with the water.
Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols believes that 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 at the moment.” According to Wallace, 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 continued. “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.”