Earlier last week we posted a Ted talk video about mindfulness. About how it can act as a prevention to stress, and that it is all about familiarizing ourselves with the present moment; to find calmness and clarity in our lives, within our thoughts.
After watching this, my thoughts somehow drifted to the ocean and that evening, I decided to go for a drive to visit the waves and sand at sunset. This left me questioning what it is that draws me to the water, as it's quite common that I find myself drawn to the waves and the sand and I love to look out until I can't quite see where the sea meets the sky - where the skyline is blurred.
And it's not just me of course, many of us are drawn in, some may experience a 'sea change'. Holidays seem to always surround the water too. So I started reading, and found an article explaining how people all around the world are attracted to the ocean and water, and that we have been for thousands of years. For cultural reasons, such as bathing, for relaxation and a calm environment and for ceremonies and spiritual practices. Often sacred places are near the water; and metaphors of rebirth and cleansing are all examples of the human being's attraction to water.
And like mindfulness is described, the water and the ocean seem to give us a sense of calmness and clarity. Wallace Nichols, a marine biologist and author believes we all have a 'blue mind'. Water is often drawn blue, and we often associate the colour blue to feelings of calmness too. Nichols defines our 'blue mind' as a 'mildly meditative state characterized by the calm peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment' . He believes our blue mind is activated by being in or near water.
Nichols further explains reasons as to how and why water has this effect, I chose one to explain here - that is that water can induce a meditative state. Surrounded by water, our mind is stimulated by what is called 'soft fascination', which is an effortless type of attention. Researchers and psychologists alike are now starting to understand that this type of attention or stimulus, the natural kind, of waves or clouds, both visually, phsyically, and auditory, as well as being asthesiaclly pleasing, can have a restorative function as well. This 'soft fascination' can naturally calm our mind. So surrounding ourselves with water can be a mindful exercise in itself it seems.
A lot of times when we are stressed or hurried in the day to day grind of life it is hard to know when it is time to stop and spend time in this world of 'soft fascination' . But these times are the hardest times for us to remember what helps and what we can do to support ourselves. The best way to help ourselves cope is to remain preventative. Just because we are feeling calm at this moment does not mean that our work is done. We can get down to the water and make sure that is lasts that little bit longer.
True North Expeditions, Inc. provides adventure therapy programs and services for children and teenagers in Australia. Based in Adelaide, the TNE team writes about child and adolescent psychology, family dynamics and how adventure therapy programs can connect with struggling adolescents.