PUTTING THE MIND IN MINDFULLY WIRED
December 19, 2019
When it comes to the ocean, Mindfully Wired is more than communications: we dive below the surface to understand what it really means to have a relationship with water. MWC Comms Intern Elspeth explores the significance of the watery world to all of us #KeenMarines, in not just our professional but our personal lives too.
It is no secret that getting out and about in the fresh air is good for the soul and provides us with both mental and physical benefits. But there is a particular outdoor pursuit that really makes a difference and, as one eighth of the #KeenMarine team, you might have already guessed what ‘wavelength’ I’m on. That’s right – it’s the ocean!
When it came to putting these thoughts on paper, it seemed fitting to do so in the spirit of Mindfully Wired, whose ethos is firmly grounded in notions of mindful communication and conveying scientific information in a meaningful and inspiring way. With that ethos in mind, I began to explore our relationship with our watery world through ocean mindfulness and pen down some of my tips for making the most of it.
TIDE TO THE SEA
As an islander hailing from the Isle of Wight, the sea has formed an immense part of my identity through the years: I’ve grown up never more than three miles from the shore. That said, I really feel that this connection is more than just a matter of proximity. It runs deeper than that and it does for every human on our blue planet.
Of late, my quest for the sea has become my obsession. Living in the bustling city of Bristol has forced me to think outside the box and explore the many hidden coves along our coast. Getting out on the water at every available opportunity has become a mission of mine and something I crave after a busy week in the urban jungle.
Whether it’s exploring caves on my paddleboard, meeting inquisitive grey seals off rocky cliffs or going for dog walks on blustery beaches – each time I leave feeling completely refreshed.
Of course, I am by no means the first person to discover the wonders of sea. There’s a wealth of scientific research supporting ideas of the ocean as a tonic for the stresses of modern living.
THE SCIENCY BIT
Thanks to its soothing effects on the brain, ‘vitamin sea’ is now being prescribed by doctors around the world.
Not only is the colour blue associated with feelings of peace, creativity and tranquillity, according to clinical psychologist Richard Shuster, ‘Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state’. The slow, whooshing rhythm of lapping waves has a soporific power, lulling the mind into a sense of calm.
Mathew White, an environmental psychologist, has pioneered the UK’s first ‘Blue Gym’ project, which highlights the benefits of coastal living on mental health and wellbeing thanks to increased outdoor activities such as walking. This research could have vital implications for government policy, supporting the need to protect our coasts and encourage their use by all of society.
Humans have always been curious about the ocean, which we have made a place of play, surf, study, art, swimming, fishing, diving and more. Nature’s ability to transform the human psyche is not a new phenomenon.
Edward Wilson coined the term ‘Biophilia’ in his book of the same name to demonstrate how humans possess an innate affinity to nature, natural processes and other forms of life. This instinctive bond forms part of the very reason that many people feel such an emotional, visceral connection to the natural world.
Just like my personal connection to the ocean is down to more than just my island home, perhaps our relationship with the water runs deeper than first thought.
LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE BIG BLUE
‘Mindfulness in surfing is a moving out of mind and into the world’
Sam Bleakley (‘Mindfulness and Surfing: Reflections for Saltwater Souls’)
When I paddle out through the waves I feel completely immersed in the present moment, forced to respond to the environment that surrounds me: the pull of the current, the rolling waves, the ice-cold water on my skin, the sun in my eyes, the wind whistling above. I am faced with the beauty and sheer force of nature and there is nothing more humbling.
Sure, we all know the ocean is beautiful. At Mindfully Wired, we spend our days spreading our love for the big blue and all the incredible species that call it home, helping to cultivate a shared sense of belonging to the marine environment.
Even though we know that spending time doing what we love is important, we sometimes don’t take action to make it a priority. So, how can we bring a bit of ocean mindfulness into the everyday?
Carve out time to explore a beach, estuary, wetland, river or lake near you. There are hundreds of nature reserves in the UK alone. Breathe, be present and take stock of your surroundings. An oystercatcher, seal or kingfisher might just surprise you.
Nurture your creative side: Paint, draw, photograph, write or sing about the sea.
Share sea stories: connect with others about your adventures. It’s all part of the experience and there is a fantastic community of ocean enthusiasts out there.
If you dare, take the plunge! I’m a firm believer that you never regret a swim no matter how chilly and warming up with a woolly hat and a hot cuppa at the end is one of the best feelings around.
This Boxing Day, I’ll be donning my Christmas hat and running into the icy waves off the south coast of the Isle of Wight. Join me and thousands of others around the UK this festive period and find a swim near you. You never know, it might become your obsession too!