Another Take on the “Blues”
written by Joanne Couture (Counsellor, Beyond Neurofeedback Technology Coach) on 25/07/19
I would not be surprised to hear that as you read “the blues,” what comes to mind for you is that Deep South kind of music we hear at jazz festivals or that sad, melancholy, depressed feeling which has us wondering if something is “bottoming out” in us. We may not all have an appreciation for “the blues” in music but we all have gone through some “blue days” that are not all that much fun. Yet as I read about the “blue mind,” it has me wanting it for myself and others.
Researcher Wallace J. Nichols has shown that being close to bodies of water promotes mental health and happiness. His term “blue mind” describes the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on or under water, always depicted in blue on our maps. Some call this state the “holy grail” of brain states, that “calm alert” zone prized by Zen masters, athletes and artists. It’s being able to get to that productive state where you experience a settled mind and a sharpness of senses; where you are in a state of “flow” somewhere between over-stimulation and under-stimulation (between RED and gray), able to deal with life’s challenges easily. Neurologists would most certainly see high levels of alpha frequency in our brainwaves when we are in that state. Unfortunately, our top-down executive functioning often keeps us from experiencing the benefits of some bottom-up relaxation. High expectations keep us striving for more, yet it is in the balance of body and mind that we are the most productive. Instead of being over-connected or over-stimulated with tasks at hand, being around water encourages the brain to “drift” into a reset mode.
Florence Williams, in The Nature Fix, confirms this by writing about how modern technology around the world is revealing what goes on in our brains when we “step outside.” What’s the main take-away from her book? Nature is good for our well-being! In the U.S., studies on nature sounds, especially wind, water and birds, have been shown to be soothing to us. In Japan, many a study on hinoki cypress trees has shown their aroma actually boosting immune cells. Based on the literature on sensory perception, the color blue helps our “rest-and-digest” parasympathetic nervous system kick in. Fifteen to forty-five minutes in a city park are enough to improve mood, vitality and feelings of restoration. Finnish researchers recommend five hours in nature a month, minimum.
In the studies reported, participants exposed to nature showed higher alpha wave activity, that wavelength associated with relaxation, meditation and increased serotonin. All this, because spending time in nature gives us the opportunity to resonate to the earth’s frequency. Since 1953, we have known through W.O. Schumann’s research that the earth generates very specific pulsations in the alpha range. Of course, these frequencies are more easily accessed and measured in a natural setting because they are not interfered with by urban man-made electromagnetic signals and the constant daily treadmill of our lives wearing out our frontal lobes, ramping up our cortisol levels and our blood pressure. In the same way that neurons in the auditory cortex have been shown to attune to the exact same frequency of the violin note played, a feeling of comfort can be achieved in us when our rhythms are synchronized with those of a natural environment. Nature “lulls” us into resting our top-down direct-attention focus.
One of the considerations you may have as I share this information is the question of how much time in nature you think you would need to stop the “hamster wheel” in your head. How long do you think it would take you to be getting that rejuvenating sleep again? We know the effort it requires to slow things down in the urban frenzy of our daily lives. This is where Brainwave Optimization can be of benefit as it works directly with our brain’s neuroplasticity. Brainwave Optimization actually collects energy from your own brainwaves and transposes it into data that is converted into sound. Since our birth, our hearing has been the most fully developed sense because already in the womb sound waves were vibrating through our bones and brain attuning us to our environment. Using sound during brain training accesses this inner capacity to be who I am. When the brain’s own sounds are played back to the brain, causing it to seek its own natural level of relaxation, the blue mind is possible. Through this attunement, restoration occurs at many levels and people find themselves performing better, experiencing better moods and having more energy. As frequencies reset in balance and harmony, that blue zone alpha finds its place again.
So, yes, whether in the training chair in my office or in the nurturing embrace of nature, I wish you all “the blues” this summer.
Gerdes, Lee; Limitless You – The Infinite Possibilities of a Balanced Brain (Namaste Publishing; Vancouver, Canada; 2008)
Nichols, Wallace J.; 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 (Little, Brown and Company; New York; 2014)
Williams, Florence; The Nature Fix – Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (W. W. Norton & Company, New York; 2017)