I recently endorsed The Blue Mind Rx: Water is Medicine. In 2014, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols wrote a book, The Blue Mind, that shares lots of information about how healing it is to be in, on, or near water. That also makes it important to preserve our clean water – lakes, streams, rivers, oceans. He and others have started a movement called neuroconservation which emphasizes that exposure to nature shifts us away from stress and toward calmness and compassion.
In The Blue Mind Rx, here is the basic premise:
Neuroscientists and psychologists add that the ocean and 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.
I know that being near the water has been crucial to my wellbeing since I was a child. I spent many summer days and nights at my great aunt and uncle’s cottage on a large lake in the midwest, swimming, sailing, fishing, and just sitting on the pier, dangling my feet in the water underneath the willow tree and watching the sunset. In the water, I played for hours, imagining myself as a synchronized swimmer or simply dreaming about many things. This experiential play and exercise in a peaceful, beautiful, safe place helped balance things in my life in the city that were not so wonderful, such as the anxiety and panic attacks I began to experience at school and and other settings. For a time I was homeschooled due to my level of anxiety. The lake remained a refuge throughout this tumultuous time in my teen years. My great uncle taught me much while we sailed his small Sunfish, including a frequent reminder as speedboats zoomed by that the Earth was spinning and moving through space at a fast rate all the time – so why would we want to do the same? I learned to slow down, to pay attention, and to steer my own ship.
I have the good fortune now to live on the water and am a leader in the Conservation Club on my body of water, attempting to keep it clean and usable for all. Coming home to my view of the water, or kayaking, or jumping in at the end of a long, hot day all help balance the high energy work of counseling and running a business. The Blue Mind Rx reminds me of how important water is to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. I am adding a water fountain to my counseling office and am considering ways to offer sessions, retreats, or experiential workshops that incorporate the healing power of water to assist individual and community growth.
How has water been healing in your life? How could you incorporate more interaction with water now? It could be as simple as soaking in the tub, playing in the dishwater, swimming in a pool for exercise, going to a nearby lake or stream for relaxation, or planning a vacation or retreat at the water. I look forward to your Blue Mind comments, ideas, and suggestions.