• Woman listens to shell noise.

    Letting go and the sea – What we can learn from the ocean.

    Descending a little deeper into the exhilarating intoxication of the sea with every breath, and calming down with the soothing rhythm of the waves.

    Text: Claudio Rimmele

The sea as a living space.

Whether it’s the gentle splashing of the sea on a Caribbean beach or its fury on a rocky coast in Ireland, the sound of the sea is always a stirring sensory experience. For Buddhists, the sound of the sea is the primordial mantra, the oldest incantation in the world. A sound that repeats itself endlessly and a symbol for the beginnings of life itself.

And yet the sea is much more than simply a symbol. Covering 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, the world’s seas and oceans are the largest living space on our planet. A quarter of all known animal species live in the depths of the sea and more than half of our oxygen is produced by invisible algae in the sea (phytoplankton). And for us humans the sea is an important living space as well. Long before recorded history began, the sea gave us valuable nourishment, provided relaxation and recreation. For many the sea even provides a path towards more healthy living.

Woman holds up shell.
Woman in a white swimsuit sits on the beach and looks out to the sea.

The sea as the largest spa in the world.

Already ancient medicine wisdom saw the sea as a bringer of healing. From the Greek physician Hippocrates to the Chinese Emperor’s doctors: they all employed seawater as a cure for physical ailments. It was only thanks to the physician Richard Russell, who, contrary to all the moral concepts of his time prescribed bathing in the sea, that the seaside cures in Europe of the 18th century experienced a renaissance. Russell’s sea therapy consisted of exposing the patient to the might of the ocean. For this, the sea had to fulfil the following requirements: it had to be cold, very salty and wild. The splendidly designed seaside resorts of England became spa resorts and were very popular with fine society. This led, in the middle of the last century, to the sea finally developing into a place for holiday and relaxation for everyone.

Stormy waves, a clear mind.

But what is the cause of this stress-reducing, relaxing effect of the sea? Firstly, these effects can be explained by our human perception patterns. If we look out over the sea, our vision is not impeded by anything; the horizon is free and can be taken in at a single glance. This takes from us the subconscious fear of unknown dangers, which is an evolutionary phenomenon accompanying the human psyche. The colour spectrum of blue-green-turquoise shades further enhances the relaxing and stress-reducing effect. After some time our breath adapts to the rhythm of the sound of the sea, it becomes slower and more regular.

Woman in white swimsuit is swimming in the sea.
Woman in white swimsuit sits on stones in the sea.

The unending blue.

From Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid” to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” – for many writers and creative minds, the sea has been and is a source of inspiration for human imagination. A very particular physical sensuousness awakens at the sea. The infinite blue stimulates our imagination and directs our thoughts into new directions: we become aware of our own “dimension” and our role in the cycle of life. Furthermore, the oceans offer one of the most varied landscapes imaginable. From the crystal-clear Arctic to the stormy Pacific Ocean, the sea has many faces. This creates an awareness of the complexity and diversity of the earth, in which we can participate with all our senses.

  • Woman in white bathing suit relaxing on the beach.

A day at the seaside cleanses the body.

The first days at the seaside are exhausting. Sun, beach, swimming and fresh air all lead to the typical fatigue caused by the stimulation of the sea. However, after just a few days these give way to a unique feeling of freshness. This is because the sea cleanses us both inside and outwardly. Sea-air and seawater are full of bioactive components that mean a real time-out for our health. The tiny seawater drops that enter our lungs through the air contain trace elements such as iodine and magnesium, which have an anti-inflammatory effect.

They also contain selenium, which increases the skin’s resilience. Our skin and lungs in particular benefit from direct contact with seawater. However, the sea can do a lot more: iodine-rich sea air provides a real boost for our immune system. Some studies even ascribe cancer-prevention effects to iodine. In addition it is statistically proven that people living near the sea tend to lead a healthier lifestyle, with more sports and exercise than people who live far from the coast.

Starfish in hand.

Sea in small doses?

Unfortunately, the healthy effects of seawater cannot be reproduced easily in your own bathtub. A salt bath at home with an app that recreates sea sounds can have a relaxing effect. But there is no real alternative for the unique effect of the sea. All that remains is to pack one’s suitcases and travel to the origin of life itself, to the sea.