I love being underwater because the world is so loud. When I submerge myself, the silent stillness encompasses my weightless body and reality shifts. The chaos of everyday life drowns out, and I finally feel in harmony with the Earth. I have been drawn to water my entire life, and consider it my parallel universe.
When I read the book Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols, it affirmed my intuitive sense that water was a place of peace and happiness. He studies swim therapy and the neuroscience behind water’s profound effects on the human race, and explains why our bodies and souls are naturally drawn to water. Nichols’ research fascinated me, because I could finally understand why humans possess deep emotional ties to being in water. The instinctual and emotional responses that people experience in aquatic environments can be directly linked to a calmer and more successful lifestyle. Nichols references the work of many scientists who have examined the brain’s connection to water, and this research leads to a greater psychological understanding of how the human mind and emotions are shaped by interaction with the most prevalent substance on Earth.
For his studies, Nichols collaborated with many people who center their lives around water (surfers, marine biologists, fishermen, etc). With tools such as EEGs and MRIs, he discovered that their brains release a steady stream of natural opiates like endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine while in or near water, to create a very calm, euphoric feeling. He finds that proximity to water can diminish anxiety and stress better than any medication.
My work through One with the Water focuses on swim therapy and training others to adopt a “blue mind”. I encourage my students to get in the water as much as possible and discover the serenity that swimming has provided me. The water can liberate one’s mind, soul and body in the purest ways imaginable. A blue mind is a happy mind.
Nichols, Wallace J. Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. New York: Little, Brown, 2014. Print.