Miss the Ocean? Bring the Beach to You
Press a seashell to your ear and listen to the sounds of the shore... It’s easy to imagine starfish washing up in the sand as saltwater mists your cheeks. There’s something transcendent about the sea. That’s partly because staring at the ocean alters your brainwaves and transports you into a mild meditative state, according to Babita Spinelli, Licensed Psychotherapist, and Certified Relationship Coach. Wondering how it works? “You link the feelings of the beach with relaxation,” says Spilelli. The attraction to liquidity and flow is instinctive; not really surprising, considering that 60% of the human body is made up of water. Being near the ocean creates a calming sensory response in your mind that releases feel-good endorphins.
Even though safe social distancing means avoiding large gatherings that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the ocean offers. With a little creativity, you can bring the beach to you...
Use your imagination to become centered and take a mental vacation. First, bring yourself into a comfortable seated position. Then draw your awareness to your breath. Gently, rotate your shoulders. Inhale into your belly and very slowly exhale. Align your spine as you breathe. Close your eyes. Imagine your bare feet, walking in sand. Feel the warm grains against your toes. Envision yourself walking towards an expansive space just up ahead. A breeze washes over you. Feel the air in your hair, against your cheek. Look up at the diaphanous clouds, floating by. Bring your gaze down to the water. Aqua in motion. Waves and stillness. Dip your toes into the water. Is it cool or warm? What do you smell, taste, hear, see, feel? Take your time. Rest in this awareness.
Watching a film can be engrossing. It transports you into the world of the characters. And if that world happens to take place amidst the Hawaiian shore or a resort in St. Barts, then it effortlessly beams you there. “While connecting with the association of the pleasure, calmness and joys in a tropical environment you disconnect from stress, anxiety and depletion in your own life,” says Spinelli, who recommends the Netflix docuseries, Blue Planet, as “it takes you into the soothing depths of the ocean psychologically.”
For narrative comedies and dramas that place in beach environments, stream, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Life Aquatic, Life of Pi, The Perfect Storm, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Also, check out 15 Netflix Movies that Make you feel Like You’re on a Tropical Getaway.
Got a space of land to call your own? With a few bags of sand, seashells, logs, and a wading pool, you can structure a mini private beach of your very own. Set up lounge chairs, grab a pineapple smoothie, and you're all set. For more ideas, check out, Build a Beach, from Sunset.
According to a University of British Columbia study, led by Juliet Zhu, and PhD candidate Ravi Mehta, the color blue generates feelings of being safe, encouraging creativity and exploration. By using color therapy to connect to the sea, you can summon up many of the same emotional responses. Try finger-painting with different shades of blue, coloring, watch a video of ocean waves. Wear blue tinted glasses, or set up blue lighting. According to Spinelli, “We link the feelings of the beach with its blue waters with relaxation and trigger a similar effect as going to the beach. Blue color therapy opens up the space of connecting with and communicating your needs and wants.”
Much like the practice of Yoga, the beach increases mindfulness. “When you go to the beach, you are forced to remain in the present. Being at the ocean gives your perspective,” says Spinelli. What could be more serene than Yoga at the beach? Flow into Eagle pose, while seagulls soar overhead. Try a 30-minute flow with Kassandra, Kino’s Beach Yoga for Beginners, or Fightmaster’s Morning Yoga at the Beach.
For a visceral approach where you can feel the water against your skin, transform your bathtub into a mini ocean. Slip on your bathing suit. Turn on soothing sounds of the seashore. Add himalayan sea salt to the bathwater and give yourself a seaweed facial. ‘“Turning it all off, quieting the mind and taking your mind towards the water, opens up the space internally into what is called the "blue mind,"’ says Spinelli.
No wonder humans are drawn to the sea. There’s a transformational magic in the ocean. But ultimately what causes that transformation is within you. And if you desire, you can rewire your mind to tune into the frequency of the sea, and achieve the same benefits.. Whether it’s through ocean videos, a wave sound machine, or simply closing your eyes, and recalling the water, in all its blueness, just a few moments of focusing your attention on the foamy waves can create a mood shift. According to Spinelli, the ocean connects you with the feeling that your issues do not need to loom so large and can provide clarity - the feeling that there is something bigger, more powerful and even better out there.”