We — humans — are 75 percent water.
Our planet — Earth — is made up of 70 percent water.
Being drawn to H2O in all its forms — drinking, bathing, swimming, listening, watching, recreation — is (literally) natural. Our bodies need it, crave it, and our minds are both energized and calmed by it. This incredible relationship with one of our own elemental elements brings us benefits that go beyond hydration. It is almost magical.
Four of our favorite ways to enjoy refreshing, glorious agua is through hearing it, watching it, floating in it, and getting steamy with it.
The soothing sound of water
The “babbling brook,” the “rushing river,” the “roaring rapids,” and the “crashing waves” — all of these have a unique music that affects us in a relaxing, soothing way. The “why” of this is something we touched on in our article on the beautiful sound of nature. When we listen to the sound of water, our body reacts to it as something non-threatening, welcoming, caressing even.
There is a syncopated rhythm to the sound of water, whether it’s the rain falling on the roof or the melting snow feeding a mountain stream. Its sound naturally rises and falls, lulling and moving us with it, making us feel as if it’s speaking to us, comforting us. This flow slows our internal rhythm, allowing our heart rate to even out and a calm to fill us. With that, sleep isn’t far behind.
Opening your “blue mind”
Finding solace in watching water goes back to antiquity. It is ingrained into our very being, thanks to our ancestors who followed water to build communities and create stability. That discovery of agua fresca brought a calm and relief that has since manifested in all of us. Water’s ability to relax and soothe us is dubbed the “blue mind” effect by marine biologist and writer, Wallace J. Nichols. 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, is kind of considered the seminal tome on what is behind the healing properties of water in every possible way you can experience it.
When you think about it, of course, it makes inherent sense that watching water brings us solace and a natural affinity for it. Both our hearts and our brains are predominantly made up of the stuff. Simply being around water enhances our health, feeds our physical well-being as much as it does our psychological wellness. We are drawn to it because the two most important organs in our bodies thrive on it. It calls to us.
Float your way to dreamland
Here’s a science reminder for you — when you add a lot of salt to water, it makes whatever you put in it float. Okay, now, take that salt — say, 800 to 1,000 pounds of Epsom’s — place it into a large, bed-sized tank with about six to 12 inches of water, heat that to approximate body temperature, and get in. Now, you’re floating and when you close the lid on the tank (although you don’t have to), you close your eyes, lay back, and drift away in your mind. Lights out, sound gone, just you, your thoughts, and water. This is called sensory deprivation float therapy and it’s pretty fascinating.
It’s been recommended for athletes to enhance performance — supposedly the New England Patriots have two tanks at their training facility — artists, and basically anyone in need of some relief from the crazy of the everyday. People who do it say you don’t even feel the water after awhile — the body temperature tricks your mind — and it’s as if you’re floating in space. It takes a bit of getting used to but the effects have been known to be a clearer mind at the end of it, a feeling of peace and calm, less stress, and a better night’s sleep, as well as relaxed muscles and an overall sense of wellness. You enter a meditative state because your brain is no longer distracted by outside sights and sounds that can trigger tension.
Even if you don’t choose to go this far with the whole Altered States aspect of floating, a warm soak in your own tub with a sprinkling of Epsom’s salt, ginger, lavender or even your favorite bath balm draws the tension out of your body, and you’ll slip under the sheets ready to dream the night away.
Thank you, water.
The steamy side of blissful slumber
One of my favorite things is to get into a sauna or a steaming hot bath. Water in this state opens up my senses, my pores, and I can feel toxins perspiring away. Add to that raising of my core temperature, and it just seems to get me all comfy, cozy sleepy and ready to snooze. I’m not so far off, actually. Seems that by going into one of those hot, wet rooms or soaking in a really hot tub may reset your circadian rhythm so you’re balancing your sleep schedule, even if it’s temporary.
And, yep, those toxins I was talking about? Steam releases them from your body via the sweat that pours out of you. You can get rid of up to 30 percent of bodily waste through perspiration and by doing that, you gain a sense of wellness that makes not only facing your day-to-day feel that much better, but getting a good night’s sleep easier.
The most powerful element
As I write this, I’m listening to the Oceanic album by Vangelis, specifically the “Songs of the Seas” cut. Seems rather apropos. Water is healing, soothing, and rejuvenating. Its power is in its ability to flow and inspire us to find our internal rhythm, calm our thoughts, and enter a state of synchronicity with our mind, body and soul.
The incomparable Bruce Lee, who knew a thing or two about coming into communion with your best self, once said, “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Embrace water and before you know it, you’ll be like water.