Anthony horton

Places:  In The Water Or By The Water –  A Place That Naturally Relaxes.

As an open water swimmer, my relationship with water extends beyond the physicality of swimming in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, participating in my usual distance of 1-mile in a Swim Across America open water event or doing training laps in the pool. The act of swimming, for me, is just one dimension of my connection with water. There’s an incomparable peace that comes from simply being near water, whether it’s watching the sun dip below the horizon over a tranquil lake, feeling the rhythmic pulse of ocean waves, or listening to the gentle flow of a river. This connection to water isn’t just a personal sentiment; it’s deeply rooted in both our consciousness and scientific explanations that underline why water has such a profound calming effect.

 

The Conscious Connection

Our affinity for water might be as ancient as humanity itself, woven into our very being. Water is a symbol of life, renewal, and healing in many cultures, and its presence is inherently soothing. When I stand at the shoreline, watching the waves or when I glide through the open sea, there’s a sense of returning to a primordial state, a homecoming to nature that is both invigorating and soothing. This connection speaks to our consciousness, reminding us of our small place in the grand expanse of the universe, fostering a sense of humility and awe that is both grounding and calming.

 

The Science of Serenity

Scientifically, the calming effect of water on our psyche can be explained through various lenses. Firstly, the color blue, which is most associated with bodies of water, is known to have a calming effect on the mind. It’s believed to slow down our metabolism, helping to induce a state of calm and relaxation. Moreover, the sound of water, whether it’s the gentle lap of waves against the shore or the steady flow of a river, is a natural form of white noise. Such sounds are known to reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone, and can enhance the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and relaxation.

 

The Rhythmic Harmony

The rhythmic nature of water, with its waves and tides following a predictable and steady pattern, provides a sensory experience that can be deeply meditative. The repetitive sound of water hitting the shore can mimic the meditative state of rhythmic breathing, leading to a deeper sense of relaxation and mindfulness. This rhythmic quality can help synchronize our brainwaves, promoting a more restful and meditative state.

 

The Physical Connection

Swimming itself, particularly in open water, offers a unique blend of physical exertion and sensory deprivation. The physical activity of swimming releases endorphins, known as the body’s natural painkiller, which can elevate mood and induce a state of well-being. Simultaneously, the buoyancy experienced in water provides a sense of weightlessness and liberation, further enhancing the feeling of relaxation and detachment from daily stresses.

 

A Broader Perspective

Beyond the immediate sense of peace and relaxation, being near or in water can also foster a deeper connection with the world around us. It can remind us of the interconnectedness of all living things and the vastness of the natural world, which can shift our perspective from our individual concerns to a broader, more inclusive view of life. This shift in perspective can be incredibly soothing, as it allows us to let go of trivial worries and embrace a sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves.

 

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