by Andrea Gaytan
“Where does the wave come from and where will it go?” a student asked Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. “The wave comes from water and will return to water. The wave is always water. Coming and going are just mental constructions. Birth and death, coming and going are just concepts,” he answered. Zen wisdom attempts to dissolve ideas and beliefs in the human mind that keep us mortal beings preoccupied; in Zen the wave never ends, it just transforms.
Could that be why we feel so drawn to the ocean? The fact is that our planet is two-thirds salt water, and so is the human brain. Could we physiologically reset our brain to the harmony of the ocean’s vibration just by dipping our head in the sea?
Marin’s big wave surfing champion Bianca Valenti believes that what draws us to the ocean is “the comforting feeling of salt water, which is the first element we experience and associate with love while in the womb.”
To further explore the science of our emotional connection to the sea, marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols conducted an experiment in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. First he stood on a pier, attached electrodes to his scalp and recorded his brain waves; then he plunged into the ocean to measure his brain’s response. The brain imaging technology provided new evidence that Nichols deciphers in his best-seller 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. “Once you get into it, you realize that it is chemistry, it is biology, it is physiology. It’s deeply personal but it’s also strong science,” he says.