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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

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This is your brain on water.

There's something about water that attracts and fascinates us. No wonder: it's the most omnipresent subnstance on Earth and, along with air, the primary ingredient for supporting life as we know it. From far, far outside, our planet looks like a blue marble; from deep inside, we ourselves are three-quarters H2O.

We know instinctively that being near water makes us healthier and happier, reduces stress, and brings us peace. But why? And what might the answer tell us about how we should be living our lives?

After centuries of asking these questions, we can finally answer them - and those answers are life changing. As Wallace J. Nichols reveals in Blue Mind, we are now at the forefront of a wave of neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and medical research that illuminates the phsysiological and brain processes that underlie our transformative connection to water. That research, involving tools like EEGs, MRIs, and fMRIs, is uncovering remarkable truths about water's incredibly powerful, and startlingly profound, effects on our bodies and souls. Drawing on this breakthrough science, and on compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists, Nichols shows precisely how proximity to water can:

-improve performance in a wide range of fields
-increase calm and diminish anxiety much better than medication
-amplify creativity - artistic and otherwise
-increase generosity and compassion
-increase professional success
-improve our overall health and well-being
-reinforce our connection to the natural world - and one another

Blue Mind isn't just about oceans, lakes, and rivers. Water's tremendous benefits stretch from the sea to the swimming pool, from a barrier reef to a glass of water - even a fishbowl, photograph, or painting. So no matter where you live on this big blue marble, it's time to get your brain on water.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2014

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Wallace J. Nichols

10 books33 followers
Creating useful words.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 403 reviews
Profile Image for Jean.
Author 12 books18 followers
July 25, 2014
Humans love water and water is good for us. That's about it. Lots of personal stories of people in water, fishing in water, boating in water, etc. And lots of statistics. Pretty basic.

For example:
** People love living by water. Lots of statistics and studies.
**Water and the color blue have positive effects on our human brains. Lots of stuff on the brain and neuroplasticity how the brain works (very basic stuff) and more statistics and studies.
**Water makes us happier. Lots of information on happiness, which I have in several other books, only in less detail. And, of course, statistics and stories.
**We need to drink more water, but not too much too fast.

Water is good for - all types of people - diseases - addictions - on and on. Maybe you know someone who could benefit by this information.

I really think this author had the equivalent of a half hour documentary (it reads like a documentary) or a presentation and he had to fill to get a whole book out of it. It was interesting, but nothing I didn't know or couldn't figure out.

I was pleased that he mentioned that the sound of the waves is very much like the sound babies hear in the womb. I've always loved the waves and want to be in them, beside them, listening to them all the time, if I could.

If you want to know more about water, this would be a good book. I am quickly bored and didn't think it was that good.
Profile Image for Wallace Nichols.
Author 10 books33 followers
September 12, 2014
Based on five years of research and exploration, preceded by a lifetime of thinking about our "brain on water", I'm so happy to share this work with you.

Countless friends, colleagues, researchers, and mentors contributed to this book and their voices are heard throughout.

I greatly enjoyed this project and we will continue to hold annual Blue Mind Summits (the fifth in Toronto) and a sequel book is in the works due to the wave of new "Blue Mind" research underway and the request for even "more science".

In other words...we are just getting started, much room to grow the Blue Mind movement!

At its heart, this is a book about you. About all of us.

I wish you water.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
804 reviews2,538 followers
January 23, 2015
Marine biologist Wallace Nichols has written a marvelous book about the connection between people and water. Why do we put so much value into being near bodies of water? Lakes, rivers, and the ocean have a remarkable pull on all of us.

Nichols tells this story about a group of Native Americans who live in the Sonoran Desert. Nichols took a a group of young teens to the Gulf of California. Many of them had never seen the ocean before, and they had no idea of what they were about to experience. They put on masks and snorkels, had a quick lesson on snorkeling. Nichols asked one boy how it was going. "I can't see anything," he said. He had kept his eyes closed while underwater. Nichols told him he could keep his eyes open while under the water. He did that, and looked around. Then he stood up and shouted all about the fish. Laughing and crying he shouted, "My planet is beautiful!"

Not only do large bodies of water exert an influence on us--even a small bit of water--even an aquarium or a fishbowl can have beneficial effects. Experiments have shown that observing an aquarium for ten minutes can significantly reduce blood pressure, with positive changes to heart rate, relaxation and mood. The greater the biodiversity in the aquarium, the stronger the effects. Nichols describes all of these beneficial effects, through hard evidence from scientific experiments, and through anecdotal evidence of emotional effects. All of one's senses can be affected by water. During immersion in water, a hormone called catecholamine is relased in the body, which helps to relieve stress. The sound of rippling water of course are calming, perhaps because of their random oscillations. Generally, white noise is not calming, but the white noise with low-frequency undertones make the sound of waves crashing on the beach very calming. The smell of salt air helps, too.

The book explains another interesting reason why water and nature have these calming effects. In our artificial environments, especially on city streets, there is a steady background of noises, commotion, and unpredictable events. It takes effort to mask or blank out the irrelevant details as you go about your business. But in a natural setting, the scene is more predictable, and it takes less effort to see small perturbations in the environment.

Many water sports have restorative powers. A program called "Operation Surf" has been successful in treating war veterans recover from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and stop incessant nightmares. Paddleboarding has been shown to replace an unhealthy addiction to alchohol with a healthy addiction to a fun sport.

Nichols has some interesting insights into why we do not like to think a lot about the environment and conservation, at least, not for very long. He gives examples of motivational tricks that really work; attaching a photo of a person on a CT scan increases a cardiologist's accuracy in diagnosis; Briefly looking at a photo of a runner winning a race helps improve success among call center workers.

Nichols describes a wonderful "pay-it-forward" project that he calls "Blue Marble". It is named after the famous NASA photograph of the earth as seen from space--it looks like a blue marble. He suggests giving actual blue marbles to people, and to ask them to give the marble away to someone special, and thanking them.

This is a serious, but engaging book about the links between neuroscience, psychology, and nature. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jeanne.
714 reviews
August 6, 2014
There is some interesting material here, but for a book about water, I found the presentation somewhat dry~
Profile Image for Sarah Pekdemir.
1 review3 followers
October 14, 2014
I found the topic of this book extremely fascinating and the research very thorough. Unfortunately, I couldn't finished reading because I was so turned off by how frequently the author repeated certain points that he wanted to drive home. It felt as though he was trying to fill up extra pages and did so simply by reiterating certain important points over and over. Overall, I think fascinating topic, comprehensive research, interesting read, but really could have benefited from being condensed somewhat.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews28 followers
August 7, 2014

Author, Wallace J. Nicohols has written a masterpiece about the benefits that WATER has on our health and happiness. (and explains WHY).
Its packed filled with interesting information.
As a 'WATER-LOVER', I felt 'empowered', 'inspired' and 'moved-to-tears' a couple of times.

I found myself remembering: A lifetime of memories of either being in the water -near water -or on the water:
....the Creek, the ocean, the lakes, swimming in a pool, water skiing, mud-boarding, sailing, body surfing, scuba diving, kissing, walking, spa-soaking, running, sunbathing, reading.

There are sooooooooooooooo many great topics covered in this book centered around WATER ---
Water sports, water careers, therapeutic benefits of water for both well-bodied and disabled --(emotionally, genetically, experientially, and environmentally)

Water is good for our mental and physical health --for our muscle strength. He helps with addictions --It helps with Autism.

Spa bathing can decrease cortisol levels --(stress levels) --

****My favorite chapter is the last chapter about BLUE MARBELS!!!! I'm soooooooo touched by the what Nichols has created. Its a 'wet-eye' reading experience --Such a beautiful story ---(moved to action beautiful)

"I wish you water" >>>>> as Wallace J. Nichols says!!!!!


Profile Image for Vimal Thiagarajan.
131 reviews78 followers
June 30, 2017
Whenever there is talk of conservation, emotional calls to action or gloomy doomsday predictions - however true they might be, might be counter productive in many cases. There is a need to tailor the talk to a diverse audience to have any chance of bringing about a change in our own and other people's behaviour and to shift Government policies. And one good tailoring is reminding people about the myriad intricate connections and bonds of love they share with the object of conservation, and providing a scientific explanation or two of why this is so and why this has to be so. People protect what they love.

And marine biologist Wallace J Nichols does just that. Blue Mind, is a brilliant distillation of his life's work, research and learnings on water, conservation and the Blue Mind. Nichols has done his best to talk sense out of a staggering amount of research data, talk that is sure to appeal to a vast and varied audience, and impel them towards whatever little they can do towards water and ocean habitat conservation, and most importantly to create more time for themselves to be with and to enjoy water. The book features lots and lots of research data from across the world that deals with the connections between water and the human mind, including real-estate and macro-economic data, and some fascinating discussions and pointers coming out of the Annual Blue Mind Summits that are being attended by top neuroscientists, artists, writers,athletes,evolutionary and marine biologists and other scientists.There are also interesting snippets from his own efforts on sea-turtle conservation,the Blue Mind and the Blue Marble projects,and his experiences with Brain on water.

The sheer amount of data that is dealt with in this book was a bit intimidating at times, and the structuring of the book was highly disorganized, but those are just minor gripes in a book that does such a compelling take on the mind-water connection through the fascinating twin lenses of neuroscience and evolutionary Psychology.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,007 reviews219 followers
August 13, 2016
I appear to be one of the only readers not to care for this book, but the high-star reviewers haven't changed my impressions. I grew bored repeatedly by the rehashing of neuroscience research summaries and general "Blue Mind" approach: long passages on the variations in real estate prices for homes on the water vs not?; descriptions of fMRI studies measuring responses to other phenomena but then dubiously extrapolating to human-experiences-with-water? I was listening to the audiobook read by the author himself. Nichols seems like a nice guy and fine marine biologist, but he does say he wanted someone else to write this book. Maybe so?
Profile Image for Anna Avian.
427 reviews54 followers
May 18, 2021
Overly detailed and so full of statistics this book simply wears you down at some point. Some of the facts sounded like the author just needed to fill the pages in order to get a whole book out of it. For example, the real estate prices were of absolutely no interest to me. Would've been a more enjoyable read if stuck more to the point.
37 reviews1 follower
August 26, 2014
This book was all over the place. Overly detailed at times while weirdly still being generic. I didn't learn much.
December 5, 2014
Disclaimer: This ARC was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

A star deducted because author rated his own book 5 stars. Tacky.

Review to come.

Edit: The science was pretty good and I learned some new things. I still found that people prefer water over forest pretty subjective. I like the water just fine, but I prefer forests and mountains to them. Again, we all have our unique preference.

8 reviews5 followers
December 23, 2014
The book starts off in a strong fashion for popular science on how brain activity is measured with its various instruments. Then unfortunately it delves into an accumulation of anecdotal persons who have experienced benefits of being around water. The author tries to make a case for Blue Mind (artistic, meditation, aesthetic) vs. Red Mind (analytical, preservation of self), but I believe he tried and did not succeed in making a new name for the right hemisphere/left hemisphere nomenclature of other books.

It felt that this book wasn't really that well planned out after the first three chapters. The following chapters seemed to not convey a cogent segueing of ideas presented in each chapter. It felt like he had a stack of references next to him and tried to force a paragraph to introduce the study he was referencing.

I feel this book will appeal greatly to people that already have experienced the benefits of nature upon their psychological well-being. There are a plenitude of references to studies on the benefits of being around nature, but it does not seem to delve too much on what goes on in the brain to make this happen. Hopefully science will advance so that argument can be made with a more refined focus than presented in this book.
Profile Image for Annie.
926 reviews312 followers
January 15, 2018
Bizarre book. The entire thing reads like an introduction to a book, rather than a book itself. Vague, formless, general.

Basically, for what purports to be a pop-science book, this book manages to avoid actually imparting any information or saying anything specific.
Profile Image for Martha Love.
Author 4 books259 followers
December 22, 2015
A truly excellent book and a very enjoyable way to learn more about cutting edge neuroscience studies concerning our relationship to water.

I purposely retired to Hawaii for many of the reasons cited in this book and relate to the author's interest in this important subject of how water affects us. One thing that I felt as I read this book is how much a body of water like the ocean, feels like we are in a womb like container, mother or Home. Living on an island, one can feel the impermanence of our constructed houses and the stable and healing water of the ocean that surrounds us feels more like our real home. This was not really discussed in the book, but something that intuitively seemed to relate as I read it. You will find yourself with many creative thoughts as you read this book because it is written in such a beautifully flowing fashion with both eco-psychology and neurological studies to back up the author's ideas. So read it on the beach or anywhere and it will bring you in your imagination to your favorite body of water and illuminate the science behind the relationship between water and human kind.

I particularly liked his way of viewing eco-psychology and how this area of knowledge needs to be presented to the public through story and attachment rather than through fear tactics. He bases his views for moving humanity toward caring for our ecology from the words of Jacques Cousteau, whom he quotes to say, "We protect what we love".

I was fortunate to win this book in the first reads Goodreads contest.

Martha Love
author of What's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct and
Increasing Intuitional Intelligence: How the Awareness of Instinctual Gut Feelings Fosters Human Learning, Intuition, and Longevity
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,447 reviews66 followers
October 27, 2014
Summary of Blue Mind in one sentence: Being by the water is good for you, as demonstrated by several studies.

Only extend that out over almost 300 pages.

That sounds depressingly cynical, and it is, but that’s the thought that kept circling through my head while reading Blue Mind. That can be said about a lot of books, but this one bugged me because I didn’t feel like I learned anything I didn’t already know. It wasn’t challenging or reshaping my view of the world. Sure, some of the studies were interesting, but too much of this book felt like padding. The subtitle is misleading and overly long for a book that at times feels more memoir than scholarly work. The structure didn’t click for me, either. It felt too all over the place.

Blue Mind would have made a good article, and I think it could have made an interesting book. The thing is, the reason I picked this book up is that I agree with the author. Living through a drought over the past several months, I’ve come to appreciate how much water (and its lack) affects my brain and mood. I was by a creek over the weekend and wanted nothing more than to park myself by it for a couple of hours and just listen to the water. There’s something about no rain and being surrounded by brown, brown, and more brown that’s exhausting.

But this book didn’t do it for me. Not recommended.
Profile Image for James (JD) Dittes.
743 reviews27 followers
July 25, 2014
Wallace J. Nichols's thesis couldn't more simple: humans love the water!

But this book doesn't stress the simple things about water. Nichols aims higher, crafting a carefully researched case for water as a cure for many modern travails and for water as the key to understanding mankind's place on the planet and its need to preserve all life.

Focusing on the mental benefits of water, Nichols cites studies that have measured the impact of water scenes, including those with cutting-edge fMRI technology. He contrasts the benefits of Blue Mind with the stressed, hyper-activity of the Red Mind so prevalent in society.

But Nichols isn't just interested in describing the Blue Mind in this book. He is actively promoting activities that re-connect human beings with water, from using surfing as treatment for PTSD to changing the color of office environments to reflect humanity's predilection towards the wet and the wild.

This is the perfect book for the beach, where a person's Blue Mind is at sensory fullness, and where one can quickly share it with other blue-minded people.
64 reviews
November 3, 2015
I really wanted to like this book. I like the idea that there is some scientific reason why we would like being near water, and was under the impression that this book would talk about the research that has gone into the study of this idea. As I read the book though, I got the impression that there is actually very little research done into the subject at this point, leaving the book mostly filled with anecdotes and quotes, a lot of them referenced, as if trying to give the book more of an impression that it was all about research.

Previous reviewers have also mentioned that a lot of the research that is brought up has to do with research that does not have to do with our connection to water. While I completely understand the problem with that, I understand why the author did this. Not everyone might have a background in this information, and I think he was trying to use it to build up to a point to his argument. My problem with it was that it seemed to otherwise weak argument. As I said before, the little that he provides just weakens what he is trying to say.

Over all I think that it comes down to being a boring read. It tries to reach people who want to read the science and a spiritual self help groups, and succeeding at reaching either.
Profile Image for Lizzi Larbalestier.
1 review1 follower
June 14, 2014
Love it! I am already now reading it for a second time. The narratives ignite powerful water based memories & a childlike curiosity to further explore mind / body consciousness & our relationship with Blue. The book (like the ocean) provokes a contrast of awe, calm contemplation & a sense of timeless connectedness between people & place.

The discoveries this book creates have every day practical implications which enable us to actively utilise our outdoor environment to enhance wellbeing (if we are not already doing so). Great to have some science to begin opening the door to some of the reasons outdoor blue space is so effective in supporting and facilitating motivation and (where required) healing.

Thanks for sharing your insights and research so far J, can't wait to see and be a part of the next stage of the BlueMind journey.
Profile Image for Joan.
3,649 reviews65 followers
July 30, 2014
I live on an island and I always knew there was something special about that. Hours on the beach got me through my teen years. Reading this book explains it. I knew the beach was calming, now I know the science behind it. I was amazed to read about water therapy for PTSD, addiction and autism. This is not a dry science book as there are plenty of stories. Granted, some of the findings are subjective, but then, how does one really evaluate happiness? The book is definitely worth reading.
See my complete review at http://bit.ly/1kmp4Pp.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
29 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2017
I desperately wanted to like this book, but just didn't. I even listened to it on Audible. Between the evolutionary science being shoved down my throat at every turn, the hodgepodge way he presented the neuroscience, and just the plain old boringness of it - I finally gave up. If you want a synopsis of the book it is this.... people like being near the water, it makes your brain happier. You can thank me later for saving you 9 1/2 hours of listening.
Profile Image for Alex Braidwood.
21 reviews
June 14, 2020
In case you were wondering why you find yourself drawn to water or nature, this book lays out the science and tells some really wonderful stories along the way.
Profile Image for Dan Connors.
321 reviews45 followers
November 7, 2020

Why do people seem to feel better mentally and spiritually when out in nature, especially when next to water? Why are real estate buyers willing to pay a "water premium" of up to 100% for properties with views of the ocean or other body of water?

There is something strange and inexplicable going on when it comes to human beings and the effects that water has on them. This great book by Wallace J. Nichols looks at the many ways that water helps us feel not only physically and mentally better just by being in its proximity, but how we also benefit emotionally and spiritually. Nichols, called the "godfather of water" by one publication, is a scientist and writer who has become known internationally for his advocacy for the oceans, rivers, and lakes and our intricate connection to them.

Human beings are 78% water when they're born. By the time they die of old age that number goes down to 60%. Clean, fresh water is essential to our lives, and without any we would die in a matter of days. Nichols started something called the Blue Mind conference in 2011 for other scientists and thinkers to gather and discuss research on the power of water on the human mind and body.

Scientists can now use functional magnetic resonance imagery, (fMRI) to see how the brain reacts to any stimulus, and much research has been done in the past few decades regarding the effects of nature and water. There have been dozens of studies with animals and humans, and the results have shown that when presented with natural scenes, the brain goes into a more relaxed state, what Nichols calls "Blue Mind". In this relaxed state we feel more positive emotions and more connection with the world and with other people.

There was an experiment done with over a million people and a phone app called "Mappiness". People reported how they felt at random times during the day, and they almost always felt the best when outdoors and in nature. People valued positive experiences over material possessions, and those who were near water seemed the happiest of all. (Which explains why "the beach" is one of the top vacation destinations in the world).

This book also dives into some fascinating brain science in general that is always interesting. Science still has a long way to go in its understanding of the brain, but we're definitely making progress. Here are 5 random brain facts from the book:

1- We have a happiness baseline or "set point". No matter what happens during our day, we tend to revert back to that baseline. Amazingly, this happens with lottery winners and those with fatal illnesses- after a big event we tend to settle back down to our "average" happiness level. Some 50% of that baseline level of happiness is genetic according to scientists. Another 10% is our life circumstances (age, gender, race, etc), and the final 40% comes from our voluntary activities and goals that give our lives meaning. I would dispute the genetic portion, but obviously what you start with has a big effect.

2- Our brains, which are mostly water floating in a tank of water, are always changing. Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brains to make new connections and get rid of old ones. Our brains evolve over our lifetime and change structures every time we store a new memory or skill.

3- Focusing on the positive actually can move the happiness "baseline" according to this book. Even the most depressed people, if they can sustain regular positive focus, can change the synapses and pathways in their brain to make themselves happier all the time.

4- Our senses take in information from the outside world and break it down. Our brain then uses past experiences and "maps" to make sense of the new data. Our maps define our world and limit what information we will even consider.

5- Multitasking overwhelms the brain and leads to bad decisions. Too much information creates a cognitive overdrive, and trying to handle it all at once creates stress and lowers understanding.

Getting back to Blue Mind, it seems intuitive that we all like water activities. The author covers such things as fishing, swimming, surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, and going on ocean cruises to show how we keep coming back to the water in our recreational time. He recommends things like hot tubs, bathtubs, and flotation tanks for the immersive experiences that they provide. They author also claims that just seeing the color blue relaxes people, which may be why blue is far and away the most favorite color in the world according to this book.

Most of our world today is changing, man-made, and overwhelming. Every time we drive, walk down the street, or sit in front of a computer our brain is bombarded with things to decide, potential threats, and potential acquisitions. The average person is exposed to 5,000 advertisements each and every day! When we are out in nature and things are calm (no thunderstorms or extreme heat or cold), our brains are able to relax because the natural setting is calm, predictable, and asks little of us. We can take it in and relax. When we're around water, the sounds, smell, and sight of bodies of water meditates us into a state of Blue Mind without our even having to try. (Try to meditate indoors with lots of distractions around- it's almost impossible.)

The author says that much of our days are spent in what he calls Red Mind, a hyper-drive existence, full of stress, anxiety, fear, and way too many stimuli. Some people get so overstimulated they fall into Grey Mind, or depression, where they become numb to just about everything. But if we can get into Blue Mind, we have a chance to re-charge our batteries and recover from the chaos that Red Mind brings.

Nichols tells some inspiring stories of how things like surfing and beaches were able to heal veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), children with autism, and hardened drug addicts. Water therapy is apparently a thing that's being tried by some therapists, especially in waterfront communities, and from this evidence it works well.

There is something called the default mode network that runs when we aren't actively engaged in tasks. When we let our minds wander during this time, maximum creativity can be attained as our minds consolidate all the experiences we recently had and looks for novel connections. Some of this happens when we're dreaming, but much of it happens when we're awake but not trying to push more information into or out from our brains.

Why do most dentist offices have aquariums? Why is "the beach" the most popular tourist destination worldwide? Why are people on vacation willing to pay hundreds of dollars more for a room identical to all the others with the exception that it faces the water? Why do most fishermen privately admit that their hobby isn't mainly about catching fish? And why do so many people report feeling better when exposed to pictures of water bodies and recordings of waterfalls? Water has a strong emotional effect on human beings that we still don't understand.

My favorite places to go for exercise or relaxation all involve water- mostly local rivers and lakes in my area. Certainly nature has a healing effect even without water- flowers, fall colors, birds, mountain vistas. Anything that inspires feelings of beauty, wonder, and awe takes us to a calmer state of mind and gives us perspective over the junk that takes up 90% of our attention. Water seems to magnify that effect and multiply it.

After reading this book I decided to get a small water fountain for my office. Fountains and waterfalls have particular meaning to me, and science tells us why. Negative ions are generated by water in motion. These ions, once they reach the bloodstream, are believed to cause biochemical reactions that increase levels of serotonin, a mood chemical that helps lift depression, relieve stress, and boost daytime energy. You don't have to go to Niagara Falls to experience this effect- a small fountain, long shower, thunderstorm, or local creek can produce the same benefits.

I've always known that spending time in nature is good for you. This book shows a lot of the reasons why that is, and focuses intently on water, a substance many of us take for granted but couldn't live without. Nichols ends the book with a nice story about his Blue Marble Project, where he and others give out blue marbles to others to remind them of their connection to the earth and to each other. In this age of disconnection, it's nice to hear of people trying to rediscover what makes humans tick.
May 14, 2022
This took me a while to get through and at times the research explained was a little too simplified I thought, but it definitely would engage the average reader... really interesting book written by a three seas alum!! very cool
May 20, 2023
Empirically supported plea to get us to the sea! Recommended for those interested in knowing why being in or around water is helpful. Not an easy read if you are looking for self help only. This is an excellent pro-ecotherapy book with beautiful stories in the midst of facts.
Profile Image for dianne .
630 reviews101 followers
April 8, 2016
i think this is a wonderful puja to the ocean. We can all relate to the magic of the beach - how peaceful and powerful the wind, the waves, the scent, is. W. Nichols breaks down the science for us, showing us, through multiple lenses how we need water to heal and sustain us. From PET scans to real estate prices, we are shown how large bodies of water increase us - our creativity, our sensitivity, our health. In my city of origin a peek of water from your home increases the value exponentially. The few years of my life that necessitated living away from a coast were absolutely miserable.

The author is a scientist at the California Museum of Natural History (San Francisco)- so, although he does some touchy feely stuff (even labels it that himself) he is all about the science. The combination makes for sweet reading. My only criticism is that much seemed repetitive, and i think he could have written about half as much and been just as effective.

All over the world people sit at the beach and look out over the huge mystical ocean. Dreams of travel, imaginings of what's over there, a free ride to elsewhere. Except Cuba; (maybe this is changing but...) during the last 3 visits to that beautiful island, i was struck that all of the dreamers sat facing inward, looking at the land and away from the sea. Maybe the power of the ocean, the infinte, inclusive, slightly dangerous depth gives rise to such dreams that the disassociative wrench of being so limited by reality, having your magic defined by distinct boundaries, must be an uniquely Cuban affliction.

Today, as i sat gazing at the south Atlantic from my perch in Punta del Este, Uruguay - i decided to read the last few pages standing in the water. Seemed right.
Only the pull of the tide and a subsequent wave decided it was even more appropriate that i be knocked under. The book died, well changed form, floating, in the ocean.
Profile Image for Liz.
18 reviews
January 29, 2020
Warning: this book is sciencey and has all the citations to prove it. At times it reads like an academic journal, although sprinkled with passion.

Personally, I loved this book as it resonated with me. I grew up in Michigan and swimming was something I learned right away. Canoe trips, kayaking, time around and in water has been meaningful to me. I often think of times I've spent twirling around underwater in pools. It was so affirming to read this feeling of connection is backed by science and that I'm not alone in feeling this way.

I had the priveledge of getting to hear the author speak via Skype at a book club in ogden, ut. J is passionate about water and it is clear he wants people to know engaging with it can help us get to a calmer place when struggling with mental health. Another tool to add to the toolbelt!

I love how the book talks about engaging with conversation of changing our habits (in order to help the environment) via storytelling which is empathy building. I want to try this out more going forward.

Blue Mind= calm, collected, collaborative, creative mindset evoked by memories of water/engaging with water/taking time to immerse ourselves in nature.

This book is a great reminder to prioritize unplugging from the constant stream of anxiety of life in order to take care of ourselves.

Thank you for your research and dedication J.
Profile Image for Bookworm.
1,843 reviews58 followers
November 14, 2014
Disappointed. I was a swimmer in high school and have almost always lived near some body of water (the ocean, a river, a creek, etc.) This book sounded like it was for me. What do we love the water so? What compels people to have pictures or art of water?
Sadly, the book definitely did not live up to the hype. It started off well, with the author (and with a forward from a relative of Jacques Cousteau) writing about their experiences with the water and what it meant to them. But it quickly meanders on, into science, (how the brain and body reacts) and various scientific studies.
Perhaps under different circumstances I might have liked this book better. Some of the writing is quite good, when he discusses stories of people (including himself) and their adventures with water. but the science comes across as dry as a textbook. It almost makes me wonder if he had a ghost on this or simply cut and pasted parts into the text (maybe what started out as an academic paper ended up with personal stories c/p'ed in between).
It seems very textbook-ish, unfortunately. Can't recommend it.
Profile Image for Justin.
82 reviews6 followers
August 25, 2014
Yeah, I finished another one. My 'goodreads' review: Do you have a 'Blue Mind'? Had periods of 'Blue Mind' experience? Of course you have. But like me you may have not realized what it was and how important that is to our existence. It's as essential to your body as water is. This wonderful book tells you why and how to know when you've found it.
I found it recently and I never want to leave it. Of course it rolls in and out of your brain but once you know it, you can bring it back. Nichols tells us how we can do things to live there more. To live better, more creatively. This is also a great ecological perspective on preserving our oceans and waterways.
What a great perspective on guiding your mind and finding peace. It's really as simple as a glass of water.
June 14, 2018
Simply put, this book explained why I was compelled to be near water. Aren’t we all? Doesn’t matter why to most of us at first... but once you understand that WATER IS MEDICINE you will listen to what your mind/body/soul is saying... your Blue Mind. It’s saying it needs water to survive, to relax, to find peace, to have fun, to exercise, to feel the “rush”, to heal, to mourn, to celebrate, to feel complete. I always knew this... now I “get it” and have a name for it. Transformative narrative you can’t read or listen to just once. I highly encourage you to pay it forward and pass the book along when finished. Thank you J. I wish you water too.
Profile Image for Gordon.
641 reviews
March 12, 2021
For all who already live by or near the water, or loving spending your free time in / on / by the water, then this book will only tell you the details about what you already know. That is, that being near, in, on, or under the water (which I particularly love) brings well being, happiness, and fulfillment. Read on and enjoy (the swim, flow, ride, spray, view...).
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