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039: How to get the Benefits of a Blue Mind, Even in a Rain Forest

podcast Jun 01, 2021

Water has such a calming yet powerful effect on our well-being. Here’s how to get the Benefits of a Blue Mind, Even in a Rain Forest 

Water provides the perfect balance of stability and change, like looking at a waterfall or a calm lake. And this balance of change and consistency allows you to enter a state of involuntary attention or the brain’s default setting. Some call it a mildly meditative state and I consider it a form of micro-flow.  

My family and I were recently exploring the US’s only rain forest in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. We parked our car and headed into the mountains for some light hiking. It was a nice day and the trails weren’t too muddy, even though they say it rains about 4 times a day there. We finally made it to a small waterfall and I decided to hop in. It was pretty cold water but the fresh mountain water really cooled me off. I’ve never really actually stood under a waterfall and swam around in it.  

Back home in Buffalo we’ve got Niagara Falls right there but that is a whole other level of sheer power. The kids and Satomi thought I was a little crazy but it was so refreshing. I got out and we kept hiking a bit, this time it got steeper and we were pulling ourselves up by the roots and looking for rocks to climb up on. The narrow path went up the side of the mountain a bit, but I could tell we were near another waterfall so we wanted to keep going and see if we could find another one.  

Soon enough we did, it was at least 4 stories high and free falling into a pool at the bottom. We were there early morning mid-week and had the place to ourselves. This was a lot higher and you could play behind the falls also. This time I coerced everyone into hopping in with me. We all swam in the cool water, felt the power of the water crashing down on us, almost losing a contact lens I might add, but just taking in this new exhilarating experience.  

A book that I’ve been reading off and on for a while now is from marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols and It’s called Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or underwater can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do. Yes, a long descriptive title, much like the book which is filled with research to back up his notion that we need to reestablish our relationship with water. He focuses on the proven scientific evidence that being close to bodies of water promotes mental health and happiness. 

So what is this concept of “blue water” all about? In his words: 

“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 an elevated and sustained happiness.” 

Some of his research has shown that being in or near water can provide a long list of benefits for your mind and body, such as: 

  • lowering stress and anxiety 
  • increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness 
  • a lower heart and breathing rate 
  • More focused and better workouts  
  • Water is being used to help treat and manage PTSD, addiction, anxiety disorders, autism, and more. 

Thinking back on the rainforest and waterfall experience, we were all in a micro-flow. The whole family was so connected to the moment and that beautiful work of nature. Feeling the power of the water beating down on you, staring at it as it continuously flowed, sunlight illuminating it off and on through the trees it, playing together in the natural pool at the bottom. It was a form of micro-flow and even group flow. A moment of family flow at its best.  

Take a minute to evaluate your daily connections with water. Find ways of increasing them or bringing your deep flow activity to the water. Water can help you in leading a high flow lifestyle.  

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