Are you seeing red, feeling angry, anxious, and stressed? Welcome to the postmodern experience. Don’t despair, however. Blue mind science—the study of aquatic environments’ health benefits—could offer the cure for your blues, for free, wherever you may be. People can experience the benefits of the water whether they’re near the ocean, a lake or a river. Even listening to the soothing sound of a fountain has proven positive effects. Most communities are built near bodies of water not just for practical reasons, but because as humans, we’re naturally drawn to blue space… Gazing out at sea induces a meditative state. Here on the Hook Peninsula we have 14 different beaches and coves to choose from where you can gaze away into the ocean distance. At the tip of the Hook is the Europe’s oldest lighthouse where the fresh waters of the estuary meet the ocean and produce an exceptionally high concentration of negative ions .
Negative Ions- the Ocean’s invisible healer. Negative ions enhance our mood, stimulate our senses, improve appetite and sexual drive, provide relief from hay fever, sinusitis, bronchial asthma, allergies, migraines, even post-operative pain and burns. Never was a case of negative really a case of huge positive! Many scribes, poets, painters, and sailors have attested to the feeling of wellness and peace that comes over them when they’re in, or near, bodies of water. “Whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can,” Herman Melville’s narrator declares in Moby Dick.
Now scientists are quantifying the positive cognitive and physical effects of water, too. It turns out that living by coasts leads to an improved sense of physical health and well-being. And contact with water induces a meditative state that makes us happier, healthier, calmer and more creative. Water is considered the elixir of life. The mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation. Guests at Dunbrody House often testify to the fact that they experience a wonderful sense of total relaxation when sitting in our sunken garden, eyes closed, just listening to the tinkle of the fountain and birdsong.
Red state, Blue state Marine biologist and author of the 2014 book Blue Mind, Wallace Nichols argues that water is the antidote to “red mind” - a state of anxiety created by increased urbanization and near-constant reliance on technology. Spending time in and by oceans, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, fountains, and even showers can counter that. The waters ward off the depression and anxiety created by the relatively recent technological changes, according to Nichols. Almost all of the senses are engaged—sight, smell, hearing, and touch, and this physical immersion in reality makes us feel better, even though we sometimes imagine we can’t part with our phones for even a moment.
Contact with water also helps counter a dulled effect Nichols terms “gray mind.” Spending too much time inside, glued to screens, consuming news and entertainment, can lead to lethargy, lack of motivation, and dissatisfaction. Getting in, on, or near the water improves moods. Michael Wenger, dean of Buddhist studies at the San Francisco Zen Center, recommends listening to water to clear the mind. He says that flowing or moving water is “white noise” Listening to the sound—allowing it to wash over you—is a meditative act that puts you in the moment.
Awe for all The feeling of awe when contemplating the ocean —has numerous health benefits. It’s scientifically proven to calm, content, temper egos, expand the sense of wonder and vastness, and make us more generous. This emotion is often induced in natural settings, like forests and oceans.
Blue mind cures the blues. Research on the benefits of “green space” - forests and other green environments—has shown many health and wellness benefits. The Japanese practice of forest bathing (also an activity we recommend engaging in here on the estate at Dunbrody and also in Tinten Abbey nearby) and study of the medicinal effects of just being among trees, has led to increased scientific interest on water’s effects as well. “Until recently, research that has focused on the health benefits of nature has overlooked the particular role of water, or “blue space,” says Nichols. “It is more important than ever as time spent in nature, especially when it involves the calming aspect of water, is a valuable way to offset the stresses of living and working in modern contexts.” He notes, too, that discussions of green space and its benefits nonetheless connote water, which the Earth and all its creatures rely upon. “It’s no surprise that it’s called forest “bathing” as water metaphors abound in our language, especially around emotional and mental wellness