I have always wanted to live by the sea and when I moved to the US (I am a very lucky resident of Old Greenwich, CT) I got the chance to realize one of my dreams. From my very earliest memories, I loved going to the seaside with my parents but growing up in England meant that the weather didn’t always cooperate so we didn’t go that often. I have found myself drawn to coastal areas at various points in my life, I loved walking by any body of water especially when life was challenging. For me, there is something about the sound of water lapping against the shore and the reflection of the sky on the water that I find very soothing.
After we moved here from the UK, I started to notice – every now and then – I felt noticeably different, more settled and comfortable with myself and certainly the most “at home” I had ever felt in my life. Even when life threw personal or professional challenges at me, I still felt better than I had ever felt when I lived in England. All it seems to take is a walk round Tod’s Point to make life seem back in balance. At first I attributed this to the East Coast climate and the wonderful blue skies that we see for so many days of the year. I began to wonder whether it had something to do with being so close to the sea when I came across the book, Blue Mind (©Wallace J Nichols 2014; Hachette Book Company ISBN 978-0-316-25208-9). I already had an interest in neuroscience after qualifying as a Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and this book piqued my interest. I began to think that maybe it was the blue skies AND the blue water.
I started connecting more dots during a tutorial session with my professor, Dr Stan Rodski (www.thethinkgroup.com.au), as I was working towards my qualification as a Neurocoach. As we worked through the techniques and strategies to maximize brain performance under pressure, Dr Stan and I happened to start talking about why so many of us have those “in the shower moments” when problems get solved or great ideas pop into our mind. Creativity needs space, it needs an absence of interruptions. Finding somewhere with that you can simply “be” without interruption seems like a tall order these days but you don’t need to go as far as you think. Surprise, surprise – the shower is right there!
Not only is the shower a place where you can be pretty much guaranteed to have some undisturbed time, neuroscience research tells us it is a particularly rich place to stimulate our brains. You thought that you were just having a shower (right?) and yet there is so much more going on; for that 5 or 10 minutes anyone who needs or wants you has to wait; you are moving around so your motor neurones are starting a party with all of the other neurones inside your brain; the water is raining down on your skin – especially your face – stimulating the feeling sense; the sound of the water is initiating a response from our auditory system and last, but certainly not least, the warm, steamy scent in our shower gel activates our olfactory system. Effectively the equation is:
(No interruptions + sensory stimulation = great ideas in the shower!)
So let’s get back to the real world. Unfortunately it isn’t practical to be in the shower all day long and very few of us can afford to spend all of our days by the side of the sea (and not at work), so it is important to take the time in your regular day to replicate the benefits of the Blue Mind. If you can find a way to incorporate 1 or 2 of the items below you will be amazed at the difference it will make to your creative juices..
- 2 or 3 times each day make some space for a few precious moments of quiet (Hint: neuroscience research says that about 6.5 minutes will do the wonders!)
- Breathe deeply and inhale a scent that you love – it could be a great cup of coffee, an aromatic tea, a favorite food or a favorite hand-cream
- Get up and stretch your legs – get those motor neurones to start the party (Dr.Stan tells me that neurones are not very discriminating, they will party with any old neurone once the first one hits the dance floor)
- If at all possible take a few minutes to go outside and feel the sun, the breeze or even the rain on your face – your face is one of the places with most nerve endings and so this will stimulate even more brain activity …
Restoring my creative “battery” in the wonderful waters in St John, USVI.
(Photo taken off of Honeymoon Beach, Caneel Bay, St John, USVI)
About the author: Paula Bowie is a qualified Peak Performance Neurocoach trained by Dr. Stan Rodski of the MINDPeakPerformance Institute (www.mindpeakperformance.com). Dr Rodski developed the Colourtation technique ©Colourtation 2015 (www.colourtation.com), a series of Anti-Stress coloring books for adults. DYPPeakPerformance (www.DYPPeakPerformance.com) and DYP Consulting (www.developyourpotential.net) are excited to be partnering with Dr Stan Rodski to bring the benefits of Colourtation and the MINDPeakPerformance techniques to the US.