1. Meditative exercises. Ask yourself, how well do I know my water? Take a moment to reflect on where your nearest body of water is. Where is its source and ending? For whom is this water home? How is this body of water doing? As water scientist Dr Kelsey Leonard reminds us, ask yourself each day, “What have I done for the water?”
2. Connect with your ocean breath. ‘Blue spaces’, in particular the sea, are the most psychologically restorative of all environments for humans. One simple way to connect with the ocean, wherever you are, is to consciously breathe. Every second breath we take comes from the ocean, from oxygen released by microscopic plants called phytoplankton. We are always connected to the ocean through our breath, which mirrors the ebb and flow of the tide, and calms our nervous system.
3. Take a sound bath and listen to water. There is a richness and fullness contained within the sound of water, such as the rhythmic pulse of breaking waves, which has a soothing effect on our brain. In an increasingly noisy world, water sounds are the antidote to the shrill, unexpected staccato of traffic and other artificial sounds that creates stress in the body. The calming effect of water sounds make them the perfect accompaniment to meditative exercises or aiding healthy sleep patterns.
4. Look at water. The sea is visually stimulating and can actually alter our brains. According to clinical psychologist Richard Shuster, watching the sea changes the frequency of our brain waves and puts us in a more meditative state. Next time you are at the coast, actively look at the sea. How many shades of blue can you see? Notice how these colours shift, change or blend into each other. How does the sun, clouds and wind interact with these colours, how does this evolve from moment to moment?
5. Honour your ebb. Next time you find yourself near a body of water take 10 minutes to just sit or be still, clear your mind and release your focus. Allow any thoughts or feelings that arise to simply wash over you like a breaking wave, ascending and gently vanishing. If you find yourself getting distracted return to your ocean breath, try mirroring your breathing to the ebb and flow of the waves. When the body and brain rest and relax, our imagination is sparked and creative energy can flow.
To learn more about how you can improve your wellbeing through water, pick up a copy of Ebb and Flow: Connect with the Patterns and Power of Water (Watkins, 2023) and Saltwater in the Blood: Surfing, Natural Cycles and the Sea’s Power to Heal (Watkins, 2021).