David B. Bohl is a relinquishee and adoptee, a professional independent addiction and recovery consultant, and a former consumer of substance use disorder and mental health services. He’s also the author of Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth, a memoir that chronicles the intersection of adoption and addiction in his life.
No longer for feeling blue, the color is here to inspire a completely different interpretation. Turn off your screens, turn on the taps! Go for a walk by the lake and learn this tried-and-true method of quieting your mind with one of the most accessible tools we have—water. Plus FOUR great ideas on how to achieve peace of mind, now.
After many years of trying to figure out the best way to meditate without adding any unnecessary spiritual elements to it, I’ve arrived at something that works for me. It is a really simple method that, in some cases, doesn’t require more than… a glass of water. Bear with me. I want to share this phenomenon with you because I think that if it helped me, it could also help others who are in a similar situation to mine, those of you who are unsure how to calm your mind without having to subscribe to meditation methods that might not ring true.
Having lived close to water all of my life and exploring the lake that I currently live on, I’ve become quite vocal about its benefits. Studies have shown that being near water or even looking at a picture of a body of water – can have calming effects on your body and mind. Achieving a prolonged state of calmness and joy that’s caused by water is referred to as Blue Mind . According to one definition,
“Blue Mind is a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction in the moment.”
The concept was popularized and written about by the author and marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, who used stories from scientists, military veterans, gifted artists, and winning athletes, as well as studies of neuroscience to show how being in the state of Blue Mind can improve us as people. Not only is it great when it comes to reducing our anxiety, Blue Mind is said to increase our creativity, and help us be more compassionate toward others. It reinforces our connection to the natural world.
I have to say that being able to spend weeks kayaking on the lake in the summer of COVID-19 was probably what kept my wife and me sane and healthy despite all the drama happening around us in our country and in the world. As a consultant, I saw many more clients than I think I would’ve generally during downtime – people were really suffering, many of them turning to maladaptive coping mechanisms of addiction. Of course, I couldn’t exactly prescribe a lake – and not everyone has access to one – but I did share the concept of Blue Mind with those interested in how I kept myself balanced.
In my professional work, I deal with people who struggle with addiction and people who have gone through the trauma of adoption. I think there’s a particular cross-over with those two groups, and I’ve found that Blue Mind is one idea that both groups benefit from, but I think it would be wonderful to spread the concept and practices even wider since it’s so accessible. Addiction and trauma robs people of survival skills and positive traits of resilience, self-esteem, and dignity. I’m not saying that sitting by the water will miraculously bring those traits back, but I’m saying to give this a try since you really have nothing to lose here, and with your mind calmed and collected you can make better decisions that will bring back many of your positive, resilient traits.
How do you start? My suggestion is to build an arsenal of Blue Mind strategies and put some serenity in the bank. Here are a few:
- Surround yourself with the color blue. Whether it’s through painting a wall, buying some art that shows water or even adding some blue to your wardrobe, you can make the color become a constant in your life.
- If possible, go for walks by the water. If this is not accessible to you, watching a YouTube documentary about ocean life is a great alternative.
- If it’s possible, consider signing up for aquatics or get into the practice of swimming laps at your local pool.
- For those really ambitious, investing in an aquarium can be an option and an excellent hobby for the whole family to partake in. (Studies have shown that having an aquarium reduces levels of stress, improves your sleep, lowers blood pressure, and improves focus among many other benefits.)
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