Monday, January 12, 2015

Blue Mind by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols

Water makes up majority of our planet and of our individual bodies. However, we seldom look deeper to understand our innate social and psychological connection with water. The book, Blue Mind by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols addresses the social, economic and psychological benefits of interacting with water. Blue Mind is just the book we need to encourage people, businesses, economies, and the world as a whole to holistically appreciate a part of our environment that is in such abundance.
Individuals in the field of art and literature have transferred the ‘awe of the ocean’ onto inland people. Movies and real estate alike have cashed on the grandeur of the oceans. However, the field of science has still not tapped into the interdisciplinary nature of water and human beings. In his book, Dr. Wallace combines disparate fields of public health, neuroscience, and economics to help us better understand the multifaceted way in which we connect with water. Such a comprehensive understanding subsequently leads to a better understanding of ourselves and our blue minds.

Although the book is rooted in scientific findings it is a surprisingly simple read. The simplicity with which scientific data is explained allows readers to understand the neuroscience behind our innate connection with water. Unlike most scientific literature, which disregards emotions, Blue Mind focuses on using scientific data to provide support for the emotional relationship we have when we are in or near water.

The book is not only an informative text about water but fulfills its purpose of resonating with the reader on an individual level. The social benefit of presenting individuals and groups of individuals with fun, privacy and solitude, creativity, nostalgia, romance, happiness, and love, allows water to tap into the psychological and cognitive sensibilities of humans.

While at the Blue Mind presentation, as I heard Dr. Wallace speak about love and nostalgia, I thought about when my parents taught me how to swim. To get to my father I had to swim to him, but every time I got close, he would move further away. Although water was gushing through my ears, nose and mouth, there was nothing frustrating about the challenge of swimming that extra distance. Being in water allowed me to open my blue mind, an area of ‘calm and centeredness.’ On land we would have disagreements but in water all three of us were in sync.  The book is of particular interest to me as it allows me to understand how that “touchy feely” stuff led me to eventually become a state-level swimmer.

At STH/STB we understand the “touchy-feely” stuff when in water. Through our free Youth Environmental Education Programs we connect youth and teens to Boston Harbor and the islands. To learn more, visit our website at

Like the book, Blue Mind, STH/STB connects with people by educating them about the physical and social benefits of water. In doing so, we at STH/STB create an environment that is the driving force of bringing the emotional connection we have with water ‘out of the bathrooms and the boat houses and into the boardrooms and the Whitehouse.’ In doing so, city planners and various public health professionals can better incorporate water into our daily lives. Consciously integrating with water will help us move away from our red and gray minds and access our blue minds, thereby becoming calmer and more centered individuals, societies and economies.

- Mehar Kaur

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