Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols

I always knew there was something special about living on an island, surrounded by the calming sounds of lapping waves. This book explains it.

Nichols writes that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water. He combines water science and neuroscience to show exactly that. He defines the “blue mind” as a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life. It is inspired by water and the sensations associated with it. “...[W]ater provides the most profound shortcut to happiness out there.”

He explores our emotional ties to water, explains the technology of brain study, contemplates what happiness is and how it is evaluated, looks at the affect of the color blue and the other sensations of water. He explores the recreational use of water and the health benefits of water, including its therapeutic use for PTSD, drug addiction and autism. He explains the Red Mind and the Gray Mind – enlightening.

Blue Mind is not a dry science book. Nichols includes lots of stories as examples of his thesis. Some of the findings are subjective and anecdotal and the stories help illustrate them.

The application of Nichols' book is broad, all the way from health benefits to urban planning. He is also concerned about the future of water and ends his book with a reminder of our emotional attachment to it and the need to make sure it is there for the future.

Now I know why there are aquariums in waiting rooms and why you should put a small one on your work desk. I know what it means if someone gives me a blue marble. I also now know the science behind why I love the water so much, especially the beaches of my island home.

Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., is a research associate at the California Academy of
Sciences and cofounder-codirector of Ocean Revolution, SEE the WILD, and LIVEBLUE. He lives in California with his partner, Dana, and two daughters. Find our more about the author and his work at http://www.wallacejnichols.org/.

Little, Brown, and Company, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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