Study Analyzes 48 Million People & Concludes Good Health Is More Prevalent Closer To The Coast
By Richard Enos
- The Facts: There are many reasons that most of us feel more relaxed, happy, even creative after spending some time near the ocean.
- Reflect On: What can we learn about ourselves and what we need in our lives by examining the impact that being near the ocean, or water, usually has on us?
It is not a big stretch to say that we know ‘intuitively’ that being near the ocean can lead to improvements in our health and well-being, because so many of us have had the actual experience when we have gone to the beach. Feelings of serenity, calm, happiness and balance seem to arise in us as naturally as the waves that crawl rhythmically onto the shore and immerse our toes with refreshment.
There is some science to support this. An English study analyzed data from 48 million people ‘which indicate that good health is more prevalent the closer one lives to the coast.’
Water Is Essential To Life
To say that water is essential to life, as we know it, is not an overstatement, it is a fact. That’s why NASA’s motto in the hunt for extraterrestrial life has been “follow the water.” And here at home, water is the conduit for many of the processes essential for complex biological life. For human beings, it makes up over half of what we are physically. Up to 60% of the adult body is water, with the brain and heart at 73%, and the lungs at about 83%.
It’s no wonder that we are drawn to water, even as being fully immersed in it would cause us to drown. We have the need to be close to water at times just to feel good, to see it, to touch it, to drink it, to have it splash upon our body. If I ever get blocked or feel my thoughts getting confused while writing, my healing salve is a warm shower. It inevitably returns me to calm clarity, where my ideas become more supple, integrated, and ultimately creative.
Being in the presence of the ocean, then, would seem to be the quintessential place of healing and rejuvenation. It’s why people have always flocked to the beach. Yes, many like to lie on the sand and take in the sun, but far fewer people would take the trouble to go to the desert to do that. There is a feeling that sun-worshiping usually goes hand in hand with a refreshing plunge in the water, if only a brief one.
And even if one is laying down with eyes closed, there is the rhythmic sound of the waves advancing and receding, that attunes us to the in-and-out cadence of our breathing, our source of life. This immense presence is there, and we can feel it even when we don’t look at it. There is a gravity, a pull from the center of this big body, and the feeling that we are resting with this gentle pull upon us is both relaxing and energizing.
By The Shore
Many, many go to the beach to simply walk for miles and miles along the shore, the meeting point of earth and water. This meeting point seems like home for many of us, as we experience our human lives as occurring in a meeting point between conscious and unconscious, between matter and spirit. The water inside of us is put into calm and balanced movement, and entrains itself to the rise and fall of water on the shore that we see and feel.
Just looking out at its immensity seems to give us comfort, a feeling that we are part of something much bigger, something that connects us all. It both reminds us that we ourselves are not as significant as our worries would have us believe, and yet confirms that we are much deeper and more vast than we appear.
Then of course there is the deep blueness of the ocean, which of all the colors in the spectrum is known to most evoke happiness and creativity. Ernest Hemingway loved to look out at and be near the ocean to help foster his creativity and imagination. Marine Biologist Wallace J. Nichols also notes that looking out on the ocean,
…the visual input is simplified. When you stand at the edge of water and look out on the horizon, it’s visually simplified relative to the room you’re sitting in right now, or a city you’re walking through, where you’re taking in millions of pieces of information every second.
If You Can’t Reach The Ocean
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of living Oceanside or even has the means to visit the ocean on a regular basis. Still, we can take many clues from what the ocean provides us and how it makes us feel to understand what we need in our lives to live in a balanced and happy way. Lakes, rivers, even ponds have something to offer us, and we may want to take more opportunities in our busy lives to sit quietly near them and gaze upon them, in a state of openness and curiosity about what the experience has to offer us.
This article was sourced from Collective Evolution.
Richard Enos — My Master’s thesis on “The Anatomy of Self-Overcoming in Nietzsche” was only the beginning of my journey of exploration into consciousness. I have since lived and taught in Korea, studied yoga in India, written a book entitled “Parables for the New Conversation”, built a film and theater production company (pandorasboxoffice.ca), and started a family. While I endeavor to foster positive change in the world through my works, I hold fast to CE’s maxim ‘Change starts within’. I am humbled and grateful to have joined the CE team as of April 2018 as a contributing writer. You can reach me at [email protected]