The Emotional Allure of the Sea

“There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”  ~  Sarah Kay

As holiday madness begins to wrap its crazed tentacles around us, even the most imperturbable beings may find themselves taking deep calming breaths.  Since our anniversary immediately followed the Thanksgiving holiday this year, hubby decided to surprise me with a three-day beach getaway to Encinitas.  How could I refuse?

Photo bombed by an errant shorebird.

Given that our bodies are about 60% water; the same percentage of salt in our blood is what exists in the ocean; about 70% of our planet’s surface is water; and water is essential to life, it is not surprising that most people are inexplicably drawn to the sea, even if they don’t swim or even enjoy sticking their toes in the water.  What is it about the sea that draws us in?

I recently read an article by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols on the theory of our “blue mind”, a “mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment”, elicited when we are in or near water. “We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken,” Nichols explains.  When we humans think of water – see water, hear water, immerse ourselves in water, we feel something.

Undoubtedly, children feel joy…

And birds, well who knows…

Begging for a morsel, or a sandwich would be nice.
Expressing his displeasure walking away empty-billed.

I cannot deny nor begin to explain the serene turbulence I feel as I listen to the hypnotic sound of polished rocks being flung to the shore and drawn back out to sea by the powerful movement of the waves.  With each breath of salty sea air, my entire being courses with an electric current of emotion.  Gazing out across the water at the horizon, I imagine what lies beyond.  I am reminded of how small I am and how insignificant my worries.

Feeling perfectly balanced.

Our three-day getaway was just the rejuvenating respite needed.

This post was inspired by The Weekly Photo Challenge “Serene”.

50 thoughts on “The Emotional Allure of the Sea

  • Excellent collection of photographs Lu. We’ve decided to forgo our Texas Gulf Coast sojourn this winter and I’ll truly miss the water and birds. Oh well, desert sunsets will need to suffice, but that water …. ah!
    Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

    • Thanks Ingrid. It must be difficult to not be heading to an area where the birds are plentiful and the water so available. But those desert sunsets cannot be beat and being near family will be special. Happy holidays to you and Al!

  • You take the most gorgeous pictures, and, as always, I love your writing. These remind me of when I was a child, taking the bus to the beach, swimming in the ocean, riding the waves, lying in the sun, getting burned to a crisp, but I seemed to have been able to fall asleep, while listening to the waves. I’m glad you enjoyed your time at the beach. I’m so glad you learned about Encinitas. It’s a nice getaway for you, right?

    • Thanks so much for the anniversary wish. It was 90 degrees when we left home but seemed comfortable when we got to the beach. It is now cooler here as well.

  • When I lived in Michigan, I loved going to Lake Michigan and walking the shoreline or surfing the waves or floating in the water. Water is healing, as you say. I am glad you got to enjoy the water this November. Lovely photos.

  • Being near the ocean always soothes my soul, too. Walking on the beach is one of my favorite forms of meditation. Your photos are beautiful, LuAnn — I especially love the black and white of the gull and the balanced rocks. It sounds like you had a wonderful restorative trip to Encinitas. What a lovely place to celebrate your anniversary and what a terrific surprise gift! (Yay, Terry!)

    • Thanks Laurel. I had lots of fun practicing my photography, particularly trying to work with those shore birds that never want to stand still. And yep, Terry seems to still have some surprises up his sleeve. 🙂

  • Happy anniversary to you and Terry:) I’m so glad you had such a wonderfully relaxing time at the beach. I understand how people feel when surrounded by water. I get those same feelings when I am alone (well, with John or I would get lost) in a canyon surrounded by my beautiful rocks. I do enjoy hiking with the sound of water near by or having lunch by a pretty waterfall. Lovely photos:) That header photo is spectacular!! See you very, very soon:)

    • Thanks Pam! Probably more than just water, nature is the soothing influence for our psyche. We are so excited to be seeing the two of you again. Won’t be long now!

    • Thanks so much Beth! There is something about the movement of the sea, the sound of the crashing waves, that is so healing. Hope all is well with you and Henry.

    • I was having a hard time describing what I was feeling during high tide, when the waves were forcefully throwing the rocks onto the sand, then dragging them out again when the waves receded. I changed the wording a bit this morning, although I still seem to be searching for the right combination of words.

  • Going to the beach sounds like a wonderful way to 1) walk off your Thanksgiving dinner and 2) avoid the holiday hoopla! We decided years ago that, no matter where we lived, we always wanted to be close to a beach for exactly the same reasons that you’ve articulated so beautifully in this post. Walking along a beach with your toes dug into the sand or sitting at the water’s edge letting the rhythm of the waves soothe your soul is a perfect way to put everything into perspective. And now, thanks to you LuAnn, I’ve got the perfect phrase to describe how I feel – a “blue mind”.

      • No. Seems like Portugal celebrates it year around! (Just kidding. 🙂) We celebrated our second Thanksgiving at an American friend’s house with an assortment of Canadians, Brits and other Europeans. No awkward political conversations, thank God! P.S. I sent you an email earlier today. Please let me know if you don’t receive it.

      • Glad you are still able to celebrate some American holidays. I just got your email and I will be responding to it shortly. Thanks Anita.

  • As we live by the sea out of deliberate choice, we can only wholeheartedly agree with your observations about the calming effect of the ocean and bodies of water. Whenever we feel “under the weather” or a bit off, we head to the beach and inevitably feel better. There is a reason that historically our grandparents were encouraged to go to the seaside for recovery. There are negative (I think) ions in the sea air and the sea that improve our wellbeing. Additionally, as yogis we have been exposed to the practice of saline nasal cleansing (netty pot) .. but doing this in the ocean is a natural and adds to the health benefits.

    Love your photographs of the seagulls in particular the one of them caught in flight. Fabulous. Also love the stacked pebbles and your description of them being washed in and out by the waves….

    Peta & Ben

    • I believe you are right about the negative ions in the sea that affect our wellbeing. Thanks for the lovely comment. I too rely on my netty pot.

  • I missed the ocean and your great captures of the birds and the waves just made me smile. Your fabulous photos are just teasers for what is in store for us this winter. From the mountains to the ocean, what a great guy Terry is. Im sure you had a great anniversary celebration.

  • The sea is beautiful! The sounds, smell and colour. I always find that listening to rain or waves on YouTube whilst writing helps me to focus better which is always handy with so much going on. It all makes for some inspiring writing and as ever, wonderful photos.

    • Well, hello there my friend. That is a great idea. I am going to try that the next time I am struggling to get motivated to write a post. Hope all is well. I look forward to hearing what you are up to next. 🙂

      • All is indeed well my friend, time to write is coming my way again and it feels long overdue. Try the Relaxing White Noise channel on YouTube, it looks like it’s mainly rain but there are other gems hidden away in there.

  • LuAnn i was certain I had commented on this post and definitely read it. I’ve been wandering into people’s spam folders recently so hopefully that’s not the case for you too. At any rate I think this looks like an amazing and so so restful getaway. Indeed how could you not take this offer? I love being by the water. Something so soothing about the waves lapping on a shore.

  • Hi LuAnn,
    This is Chirasree, your latest follower.
    Glad, that I came across your site.
    Loved reading your post especially the Blue Mind theory!
    You must be a wonderful photographer! All the photos are like stories 🙂

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