I was in Italy in September for a week and took a day trip to Capri. In the Piazzetta stands an amazing sculpture by Carole Feuerman called Survival of Serena. It reminded me of all the times I’ve relaxed on a tube in a swimming pool – in a dreamy state of relaxation. Letting the cares of the world float by!
Being Near Water Makes Us happy
Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols in his book Blue Mind writes, that being near, in, on or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do. Water triggers a physiological reset, he says, relaxing our bodies and allowing us to quiet the noise and worry that life typically brings.
The 5 most important benefits of being near water.
1. Water gives our brains a rest.
In our everyday lives, we’re constantly on the go. Being around water gives our brains and our senses a rest from the hustle and bustle of life. Water, whether it is in oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, pools, fish tanks or art, has a profound effect on our emotional and physiological being.
2. Water can induce a meditative state
Most of us love to take a walk near the sea or on the bank of a river. We like to sit and gaze out at the water, breathing in the fresh air and watching the hypnotic movement of the water. According to Nichols, though we may not be conscious of it, the water could be inducing a mildly meditative state of calm focus and gentle awareness. We are put in a mindful state – in which the brain is relaxed but focused which benefits the mind and body on a number of different levels – lower stress levels, relief from mild anxiety, pain and depression, improved mental clarity and focus, and better sleep quality.
3. Water can inspire us to be more compassionate and connected.
Nichols’ research has found that while in a mindful, contemplative state observing or interacting with water, we can experience a feeling of awe – a universal connection to something beyond ourselves and a sense of wonder at the beauty and vastness of nature.
“That switches you from a ‘me’ orientation to a ‘we’ orientation,” says Nichols, “When you experience that feeling of awe, you get that ‘one with the universe’ feeling. You feel connected to yourself, the world around you, and whoever you happen to be with. That puts you in a ‘we’ state of mind.”
The proof of this may lie in the fact that so many romantic moments, engagements, weddings and honeymoons take place in locations beside the sea.
4. Water makes us more creative.
According to Nichols hopping in the shower, can be a great way to trigger ideas when our brains are in a creative rut. The shower is like a waterfall. “You step in the shower, and you remove a lot of the visual stimulation of your day. When you’re showering, your brain switches into a different mode — and while the brain is in a more restful state, suddenly you’re able to make those new or unusual connections. The “Eureka” moment comes at last — the insight or solution “feels like it drops out of the sky and into your head,” says Nichols.
5. Exercise by or in water is good for our bodies and brains.
Exercise in any setting can improve our physical and mental health but exercising near water will potentially give you more of a mental boost than exercising in a busy gym environment. “It’s almost too obvious, and it gets overlooked,” says Nichols. “But the health and neurological benefits of exercise by water are very real.”
We all know that being near water makes us feel better but it’s good to know the science behind it. So, get out there and find the water places near you – sea, river, lake, park or street fountain and enjoy the increased levels of peace and happiness. Meditate in the shower and listen to the sound of your very own waterfall crashing over your head. Enjoy!