In his book 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, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols describes the term Blue Mind as a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.
Can you think of a time in your life when water (in one of its myriad forms) made you feel this way?
Here is a video of Dr. Nichols explaining the cognitive healing power that water has on our minds, as illustrated and interpreted through the reading of the ee cummings poem, MAGGY, MILLIE, MOLLY, MAY.
One of my fondest (and earliest) memories of water occurred in my neighbor’s pool. I was five years old and growing up near the Mexico border in Southern California where the climate was hot and dry, especially in the summertime. I remember my sisters and brother plunging into the deep end, already quite adept at swimming. My mom would stay with me in the shallow end and I’d hold on to her shoulders, piggyback style, as we’d take a huge breath together, then submerge as one. In that moment I believed we were a whale, inhaling, diving deep, and exhaling as we breached the surface, over and over again. It was pure elation.
And that was it. I was in love with water, forever.
So I was already intrigued, and, okay, totally biased, when I was introduced to Dr. Nichols’ work in the early 2000s. He was a parent at the Montessori school I was teaching in at the time and he came in to give our class a fun little talk on water and how good WATER is for us, and because water takes such good care of us, it is our job to take care of it. Later, I learned there is a very official scientific word for this, which, I ended up (in part) basing the concept on, of the book I wrote. The word is #NEUROCONSERVATION and it’s a word (and a practice) that you’ll hear more about in another blog, coming soon. 💧💦
Back to BLUE MIND though and what it can do for WRITERS…
In a nutshell, Dr. Nichols’ conjecture was that since the human body is made up of mostly water, and because we live on a planet that is also made up of mostly water, there must be some benefit to us, as watery beings on a watery planet. What he found through his studies of connecting people to an fMRI (brain imaging) machine, was that when they were engaging with water (in many different ways, and sometimes just THINKING ABOUT water), their brains released a feel-good hormonal cocktail of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.
In doing so, his hypothesis that water is not only good for us but that it can be interacted with as medicine became scientifically validated. (Something that our ancestors have known for ages: That water is good for what ails us.) Since then, many kinds of formal water therapies have sprung to life (particularly for people with PTSD, autism, and other mental health challenges), and the idea that nature is medicine has become much more mainstream.
Now, all of this was in direct contrast to the fMRI scans that showed people under stressful situations, when the brain was dumping cortisol into the bloodstream. The scans showed neurons being destroyed and brain synapses not connecting in cohesive ways. Dr. Nichols refers to this state, as Red Mind.
But what does that mean for writers?
It basically means that our creative minds get scrambled when we are stressed. We can’t focus, clarify thoughts, or organize details. And staying in (what Dr. Nichols refers to as) the RED MIND state, can end up leading to all kinds of illness and disease in the body, which can then lead to GRAY MIND… total exhaustion and burnout. Which (if you’ve ever been in that state with a writing project, a job you despised, or in life in general) you know it can take a long time to come back from.
So all those times that you’ve connected with nature, specifically water, and you left the water feeling good, clear, and connected (ever get some of your best ideas while in the shower or bath?), THAT WAS BLUE MIND at work! And you can access this state anytime!
To reiterate… why is BLUE MIND such good news for writers?
Because when writers are in a Blue Mind state, they are relaxed, focused, able to concentrate, and clear and connected to the work they are creating! And the really great news is that there are many ways to access this state without being anywhere near a body of water…
Here, try it now by listening to this BLUE MIND-focused visualization that I made for you. Simply get into a comfortable position and press play:
How was that? Feeling more centered and calm? Ready to write? Remember this next time you’re suffering from temporary or (gasp!) chronic writer’s block, or perhaps when life is making you anxious and you’re struggling to get your ideas out. Take a look at this list of watery ways to find your Blue Mind, give it a go, and then let your words flow!
15+ surprising places to tap into your creativity and strengthen concentration before you sit down to write:
*Bathtub, shower, or sink
*Water sounds or images (youtube is great for this!)
*Indoor water features
*Fountains or ponds
*Oceans, rivers, or lakes
*Boating or rafting
*Swimming or diving
*Floating or soaking
*Canoeing or kayaking
*Surfing or snorkeling
*Your own imagination!
Out of this list, which appeals to you the most? I invite you to make a list on a post-it note of the top five ways that you’d like to “get your BLUE MIND on” (as Dr. Nichols likes to say), and stick it to your bathroom mirror. That way, the next time you’re feeling pressure to write and your words are feeling more drought-like than freely flowing, choose a BLUE MIND-getting option off your list and give it a try. It certainly couldn’t make things worse and I’m 99.9% sure it will actually make things better!
Finally, I’ll leave you with one more BLUE MIND-absorbing opportunity with this beautiful song by Alexi Murdoch, appropriately called (yes, you guessed it), BLUE MIND. When you’re done listening to it, feel free to leave me a comment to let me know what BLUE MIND strategies you think will work best for you!
And if you’d like to talk more about how BLUE MIND (and other nature-based practices) can help you start and finish your book, please click the button below to book your free Clarity Call. Until then, I wish you water! 💙