Blue Mind: the science of how water makes us feel better
The book Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols documents the compelling research about the human mind's reaction to water, arguing for the value of healthy waterways beyond their ecological value.
As ocean lovers, we knew this already: there is just something about being in, near, and around water makes us feel better. Nichols' research points to just what that "something" is.
According to Nichols, “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.” This explains why we suddenly feel so at peace as soon as we get to the ocean lake, river, or sea.
Studies by neuroscientists and psychologists document that wild waterways are a "wellspring of happiness and relaxation, sociality and romance, peace and freedom, play and creativity, learning and memory, innovation and insight, elation and nostalgia, confidence and solitude, wonder and awe, empathy and compassion, reverence and beauty — and help manage trauma, anxiety, sleep, autism, addiction, fitness, attention/focus, stress, grief, PTSD, build personal resilience, and much more."
While many of us fell in love with the ocean through surfing, our oceans are not just valuable as a playground for adventure. It is one of our most powerful medicines. Healthy, wild waterways have immeasurable ecological, physical, economic, intrinsic, and emotional value. This realization ought to fuel the public to protect the oceans (or save our surf, you might say). The SOS movement is not just for the intrinsic value of water for being water, but for public health and prosperity.
We recognize the privilege of living near bodies of water. It is not lost on us that many people do not have access to healthy waterways and all the benefits it provides. This is why SOS the Movement is working in impoverished communities worldwide to clean up beaches and divert plastic from the oceans. It's not going to change the whole world right away, but we're going to do the best we can to protect this vital essence of life.
As Nichols writes, “our mental well-being, emotional diversity, and resiliency also rely on the global ecological integrity of our waters.”
The ocean is medicine.