Have you ever noticed that you feel different when you’re by the water? Perhaps it’s a change in mood, causing you to become more calm and agreeable. Maybe it’s a spark of creativity, bringing you new ideas and innovation that you might not have stumbled upon otherwise. What is it about the water that seems to bring out the best in us? There are many different takes on the matter, but it turns out that many of them arrive at the same conclusion: being near the water is awesome.
Water In Tradition
Ancient wisdom has long told us of water’s calming and healing powers. Almost universally, it is seen as symbolic of life and purity. Creation myths abound with life taking its first forays from some water-based origin. Makes sense, as our bodies are mostly made of water. Additionally, the flow of waters has often been interpreted as a circulatory force, carrying the force of life from one state to the next.
In the Christian tradition, water is a cleansing force, central in Baptisms. Used by God to enact his will on many occasions, water could also take on a destructive nature. A powerful, unstoppable force to which man was inexorably tied. In Catholicism, holy water is a powerful force that can repel evil, and in some cases, has the ability to exorcise demons and other wicked forces.
The Greeks once considered water as one of the five classical elements, and a representative for the idea of continual transition. Noticing that water morphs from solid, to liquid, to gas, they recognized it as an agent of change throughout the ages.
Among many of the Native Americans, water was both a figurative and literal symbol of life. It was the source from which life came, and without continued sustenance through water, life would perish. In parts of America where water was scarce, it took on an even greater importance.
In Taoist Chinese thought, water had several interpretations. It was synonymous with wisdom, as it took the form of the vessel in which it was held, and moved easily along a path of least resistance. It was also believed to symbolize one’s path throughout life.
Heavy stuff, but what does water do for our bodies and minds? Surely water’s effects aren’t limited to myths and spirituality. It turns out scientific research has cracked the case here…
Water’s Effects On Humans
Water has numerous physical and psychological benefits. Did you know that:
Water Makes You Calmer & Puts You In The Zone
Do you think it’s a coincidence that there are so many “ocean sound” playlists on YouTube? The sound of the crashing waves helps the mind unplug from the hustle and bustle of our normally chaotic lives. When concentrated on the sounds of the sea, our brain wave patterns alter, inducing a calm, relaxed state. It’s not just the sounds, either. Just by looking at the waves go back and forth, the immense benefits of reduced stress, lowered anxiety/depression, and better sleep quality take hold.
What’s more, it causes us to enter a kind of meditative trance; wherein we can better focus. You see, we are aware of the water, but not distracted by it. Scientists call it “soft fascination,” and it’s the perfect remedy for a stressed out mind that has been pushed to the brink of overloading. If you want to take a load off, the water is definitely the right setting, but the benefits for the mind go beyond mere relaxation.
Water Can Make You More Creative
When you enter that focus-state, new ideas begin to permeate our consciousness. Because we aren’t thinking about the daily grind, we are free to become inspired by the natural world around us. We can daydream, allow our minds to wander, and generate more creative thoughts since we are no longer being bombarded by a constant barrage of screens, messages, calls, and texts. It’s much like the effect you get from being in the shower, except magnified many times over. It seems that if you’re planning on writing your next novel, working on a great piece of art, or dreaming up a revolutionary advancement that will change the world, the seaside is the spot to go to maximize your effectiveness!
Water Makes You A Nicer Person
When you’re free not to worry, something amazing happens. You can stop focusing so much on yourself and start paying more attention to your interactions with others. The effect, known as the “emotion of awe,” it gives us a feeling of interconnectedness, both with the planet and our fellow man. Read any great poem about the sea, like “The Wide Ocean,” by Pablo Neruda, and you’ll see it plain as day. The immense respect that the ocean commands causes us to reflect upon our place on the grand stage of life, realize that we are one part of something much bigger, and, as a consequence, behave in a manner that is more oriented on a sense of togetherness than one built off of selfish desires.
Water Makes Exercise Better
If you were of the opinion that exercise is exercise, think again. It turns out that all of the wide open space, amazing scenery, scent of the ocean, and significant mental boost that we get from being by the water makes our workouts more potent. If you want to get the most out of your walk or run, think about doing it by the ocean. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can get yourself a paddleboard and do some Yoga out on the water. It’s quite unlike anything that you’ve experienced before.
The Conclusion Is Obvious
We could all benefit from having some more time by the water! Even if you don’t live near the sea, you can still book yourself a trip to the shore to reap the benefits. On the East Coast, a stay at a Miami, Myrtle Beach, or Ocean City Hotel, might be just the spot you’re looking for. If you’d prefer the Pacific Ocean, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and Rialto Beach are just a few of the locations that folks have voted in as top picks.