I made the questionable decision to swim at the pool today. Questionable because all day I felt a gaping hole in my life having not frolicked in the open water. I felt anxious and unsettled—two feelings that melt away when I swim in the bay (or lake, or ocean, or river).
In 2014, the marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols wrote the book Blue Mind to make the scientific case for why being near, in, under, or on the water makes us happier. Our brains, he argues, are hardwired to react positively to water.
“The term ‘blue mind’ describes the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on, or underwater…It’s the antidote to what we refer to as ‘red mind,’ which is the anxious, over-connected, and over-stimulated state that defines the new normal of modern life. Research has proven that spending time near the water is essential to achieving elevated and sustained happiness.”-Wallace J. Nichols
I’ve just started reading it and can’t say much more than that yet, but I am already resonating with all of it. Being in or near water—even gazing upon it—has always been a salve to me and his book explains why. Maybe it also explains my unsettled mood today.
Eventually, I got to the pool. According to Nichols, interacting with any water, including an indoor swimming pool, blues the mind. And my angsty mood settled as I did my laps; a meditation of back and forth until I reached a mile. It’s not the same as open water. It was a bit crowded at the Y today and much too hot, but the water works its magic in whatever form.