Water and Solitude - "Blue Space" 
Can Create a Calm State of Mind
by Nancy Hearn, CNC

solitary walk on beach

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Water and solitude are closely linked. If you’ve spent any time walking on a beach, fishing from a boat, or sitting lazily by a river, you know the meditative effects of “blue space,” a term used for any body of water.

Science has proven that watching the movement of ocean water at the beach can boost happiness and relieve stress.  

Listening to the sound of the waves gently hitting shore can change brain wave patterns from an overactive to a more relaxed state.

Even the sound and soothing effect of water in the shower can enhance creativity and promote intuitive thinking.

Water and Solitude

In a world where most of us are constantly bombarded by distractions and over stimulation, being alone with our thoughts has become uncomfortable and/or boring.

Yet, the ability to be alone and “just think” for periods of time is foundational to the development of intuitive solutions to both personal and global issues.

In addition, without periods of solitude, it is much more difficult to experience happiness and general acceptance of life in the moment. 

When we are disconnected with self, we feel disconnected with others.  The feeling of disconnection is often one of the underlying feelings of unhappiness.

In other words, you can be alone and not feel lonely at all.  But you can be with one or more people and have a profound sense of loneliness.  Connection and happiness go hand in hand.

Without regular periods of alone time (without electronics), we tend to dwell mainly in our surface thoughts. Most often, this means reliving the past or worrying about the future, and not really appreciating or at least accepting life as it is in the present reality.

Benefits of a "Blue" Mind

Being in, on or near a body of water can help bridge the gap between the overactive mind to the “blue mind” state, which is defined as a “mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general satisfaction with life in the moment.

Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D, author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do, writes that the “blue” state of mind is the antidote to our overstimulated, distracted, and activated “red” minds.

According to Nichols, the blue mind “takes advantage of neurological connections formed over millennia, many such brain patterns and preferences being discovered only now, thanks to innovative scientists and cutting-edge technology.”

The thing is, when our mind is activated, distracted, anxious, or worried, the last thing we feel like doing is sitting down and meditating. And this is where water can be therapeutic.

Water in Nature Is a Remedy

Water can help bridge the gap from the red to the blue state of mind. Nichols writes that blue mind is most inspired by water and all the elements associated with water.  

Water in nature is often moving, changing and unpredictable. Thus, it holds our attention, but it is also soothing and rhythmic enough to allow the mind to wander and connect with deeper thoughts, images, or intuition.

Thus, time spent walking along shores, boating, rafting, tubing down a river, sailing, swimming or surfing can provide the time and blue space for calming 

Even just sitting near a creek, a pond, a lake, or the ocean, can provide enough interest and calming effect to allow us to be still and reflective.

The remedy for an agitated mind is simple:  Be near, in, on, or under water and solitude will surely follow—if you allow it.


Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D.; Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.

Marla Cimini, USA Today: ‘Blue Mind’: Why Being Near Water Makes You Happy; 2017.

Further reading . . .

Water and Brain Function - How to Improve Memory, Focus and Concentration

Return from Water and Solitude to Health Benefits of Drinking Water 

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