ocean crashing wavesThe Sea:

I need the sea because it teaches me,

I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,

If it’s a single wave or its vast existence,

Or only its harsh voice or its shining

suggestion of fishes and ships.

The fact is that until I fall asleep,

In some magnetic way I move in

the university of the waves. 

                               Pablo Neruda


Our connection to the ocean is primal, tracing back to life’s origins in ancient oceans. Though we evolved on land, the ocean’s embrace remains woven into our biology and well-being. The vast blue expanse induces a state of calm called the “blue mind,” lowering stress and supporting a host of other deep benefits.  This oceanic pull beckoned our ancestors to explore, sailing uncharted waters in search of new lands and understanding. The oceans are integral to our identity. 

Seventy-one percent of our planet is covered with water, so it’s little wonder why we are so fascinated and awestruck by our planet’s oceans and the secrets that they hold. From sunken treasure to giant creatures that glide silently beneath the surface. there is something truly captivating about the vast expanse of the ocean. Its mesmerizing beauty and uncharted mysteries have been a source of inspiration for poets, artists, and dreamers throughout the ages. 

We have an innate relationship to water. We spend our first nine months of life immersed in a watery environment. Water makes up about 60% of an adult body, while our brain is made of 80% water. The reason we float is that our body is almost the same density as water, and the mineral composition in our cells is comparable to that found in the sea. 

The Captivating Presence of Water

blue mind and the oceanWhether it’s the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore or the mesmerizing sight of a flowing river, water has a unique ability to captivate our senses and invoke a sense of calmness within us.  We have an instinctive knowledge that being by, on, or in the water makes us feel healthier, happier, less stressed, and more peaceful, but this connection to water goes beyond mere aesthetics. Neurologists and psychologists have finally turned their attention to the effects of water environments on the brain, and they are finding scientific evidence that validates what we instinctively feel when we are by bodies of water. 

Scientists have known since the early 1900’s that the atmosphere at a beach or on the ocean or by moving water contains elevated levels of negatively charged ions. These ions cause the brain to release mood-enhancing serotonin and to reduce blood lactate levels, lowering stress.

The science behind negative ion therapy hypothesizes that they increase the body’s serotonin levels, increase energy and stamina levels, alleviate stress, and improve our ability to focus. They also are linked to enhancing the immune system and play an important role in mood and sleep patterns. Negative ions also act to reduce serotonin levels in the respiratory system, blood, and brain. High concentrations of serotonin have been associated with migraine headache attacks.

Our Red Mind And Today’s Stressful World

digital overload

Our world is a relentless onslaught of distractions, obligations and artificial demands. From the endless pings of our smartphones to the unrealistic expectations of work and daily life, we’re wired to be in a constant state of frantic responsiveness. Always reacting, never just being. Our internal rhythms get drowned out by the external chaos until burnout becomes inevitable. 

The continual stress of today’s living is termed as “Red Mind,” a state described by neuroscientist Catherine Franssen, Ph.D. as an “edgy high, characterized by stress, anxiety, fear, and maybe even a little bit of anger and despair.”  Most people today suffer from chronic stress and spend a lot of time in Red Mind when our sympathetic nervous system is activated. This is referred to as the flight, fight, or fawn state. This is our survival state and The same response our ancestors had fleeing predators 10,000 years ago. 

Today our “predators” are more frequent than saber tooth tigers and commonplace like overworking, financial issues, relationship problems, health issues, and environmental and noise pollution.  And if we have any  poor lifestyle habits which are things such as poor sleep habits, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise we are headed for a host of health issues.

When in stress our body is flooded with stress hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine, glucocorticoids, and cortisol. This stress response system is usually self-limiting and hormones return to typical levels once a perceived threat has passed. As stress hormone levels drop, our affected systems go back to their regular activities, and heart rate and blood pressure return to typical levels.  However, in today’s world many stressors are always present and if we feel “under attack” our fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.

Chronic stress activates our stress response system continually and too much cortisol and other stress hormones disrupts almost all the body’s processes. This puts you at a higher risk of a whole list of health problems, including anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, muscle tension and pain, heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep problems, weight gain, problems with memory and focus. It’s easy to see that managing stress and finding ways to disrupt the stress response system is critical to our health and well-being. 

Blue Mind Exploring

NEGATIVE IONS OCEAN AIRBut there’s an increasingly popular antidote to this toxic mind-state that taps into one of nature’s most powerful sources of calm and clarity – water. It’s called the “Blue Mind” theory, developed by renowned marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, and it explores the profound positive effects that being near, on, or immersed in water can have on our psyches.

Through a growing body of scientific evidence, Dr. Nichols has revealed that water induces a mildly meditative state, reducing stress while enhancing creativity, cognitive function, mood, and an overall sense of peace and presence.  The research shows that being in or on the water increases our  levels of “feel-good” hormones, dopamine and oxytocin and balances serotonin levels. 

Dopamine supports feelings of reward and motivation, while serotonin carries messages between nerve cells in the brain and throughout your body and plays a key role in body functions such as mood, sleep, digestion, and sexual desire. Oxytocin is referred to as the “love” hormone which gives you a rush of pleasure and stimulates social interaction and connection. The increase in these hormones lowers cortisol levels and we move into a more relaxed state naturally. 

Because bodies of water stay the same and change simultaneously, we experience both soothing familiarity and stimulating novelty when we look at them. When the brain notices a disturbance on the surface (like a wave or a water bird), there’s a sense of surprise and novelty, which is accompanied by a pleasurable hit of dopamine. This is regularity without monotony, the perfect recipe for triggering a state of involuntary attention in which the brain’s default network — essential to creativity and problem solving — gets triggered. This dreamy state of involuntary attention is a key characteristic of Blue Mind.

The rhythmic sounds of waves or the gentle flow of a stream can induce a meditative state that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.  This phenomenon has been observed across cultures and is not limited to specific geographic locations. 

Intriguingly, studies have also revealed that being surrounded by blue spaces promotes better sleep quality. The therapeutic qualities associated with water help relax both mind and body before bedtime, allowing for a more restful and rejuvenating slumber. 

Don’t Forget About Fun

OPENING DAY ON THE BAYHaving fun on the water is another boost to our well being.  Boating is fun and you can’t help but smile.   When you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are associated with lowering your anxiety and increasing feelings of happiness. In fact, serotonin is often the chemical that antidepressant medications attempt to regulate.

The act of boating also allows us to disconnect from our daily responsibilities and immerse ourselves in nature’s beauty. The tranquil surroundings provide an escape from constant digital distractions and offer an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection.  Boating offers a unique opportunity to experience Blue Mind and improve our mental health while enjoying the serenity and tranquility of the open water.

You can trust your own instincts about the benefits of water, but if you need science to validate your natural inclinations, “Blue Mind” theory clearly demonstrates the profound impact water has on our brain and body. Whether it’s the tranquility it evokes, the creative inspiration it ignites, or the physical benefits it bestows, being on the water is an experience that not only nourishes our well-being but also enhances our overall quality of life. 

So next time you find yourself longing for a moment of peace and rejuvenation, consider embracing the power of water and let its transformative properties cover the profound impact that water can have on our mental health and overall well-being.

sunset sail


Try a Sunset Sail for a start to a good night’s sleep. Charter a yacht for the day and have a great adventure and great fun, plus sleep well that night.

If you want to make boating a lifestyle, join our boating club for affordable, easy boating.

And if you want to reap the benefits from blue mind affects, mindfulness and sailing, come to our Meditation + Sailing Workshops. 

If you want to rent our Studio 23 for your small events or workshops and be on teh water enjoying some negative ions and a beautiful view, check out out Studio 23.