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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Think About It - Live Like You Love The Ocean

Live like you love the ocean is easy for open water swimmers to do. Open water swimmers love the smell of the ocean air, the sound of the sea breeze and the feel of the sand between their toes. They live for that feeling of stretching out as they head out beyond the shore and the feeling of exhilaration when they come back ashore.

The sense of floating above the marine world, whether in a tropical sea-green paradise or a deep gray estuary, is indescribably joyous. The simultaneous sensory deprivation and sensory overload of swimming in turbulent waters are often sensations understood by many in the open water swimming community. But what about the rest of society? How do non-swimmers view the open water world? What is their relationship with the open water? Fear for some; ignorance for many; wonder for most.

At the BLUEMiND 2 Summit, held on June 4 – 5 in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, leaders and innovators from the worlds of neuroscience and ocean exploration will discuss the convergence of the two disciplines. "Humans have a deep emotional connection to the sea that drives many of our decisions, from what seafood we eat and where we live, to how we vacation and relax," said Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, founder of BLUEMiND and a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences.

"But that connection is poorly studied and perceived as tricky territory to discuss among scientists and policy makers. So, we decided it was time to bring the mind and ocean together with this symposium. Understanding the connection between neuroscience and the ocean may shed new light on the best use of our brains to change our relationship to the ocean planet."

This is certainly a field where open water swimmers have a unique perspective. While scuba divers, marine biologists, fishermen, naval personnel and surfers interact with the oceans in their own unique ways, it is the open water swimming community that fully immerses itself in the wonders and challenges of the waterworld. With no fins, no boards, no tanks and no neoprene, open water swimmers are fully exposed to the power of the ocean, mere pawns to the dynamics of the seas. Their collective experiences across channels, along seashores and through the waves and swells are profound examples of how these aquatic athletes view and interact with the oceans.

Although Dr. Nichols is not a neuroscientist, he is at the forefront of the new field of study called neuro-conservation that explores the intersection of the brain and the ocean. The emerging field unites neuroscience, ocean exploration and marine stewardship in new global dialogue between neuroscientists, ocean scientists, economists, photographers, explorers, writers, and ocean advocates.

Together with a team of scientists, explorers and aquapreneurs, Dr. Nichols has planned this BLUEMiND Summit that will explore when the planet’s most complex organ intersects with the planet’s largest feature. "We are thrilled to host BLUEMiND on the Outer Banks. The goals of the Summit are right in line with the way people in our community and visitors to the Outer Banks live and feel about the ocean. There's no better place to get your blue mind on than right here," said Adam Norko, the BLUEMiND coordinator.

"As a clinical neuroscientist, it is clear to me that the mind-brain and the ocean are two vast dynamic organic domains," explained Dr. Philippe Goldin, Research Psychologist at Stanford University, who presented at the 2011 BLUEMiND Summit at California Academy of Sciences.

"Both are complex and intriguing, and they require our attention and care for their continued well-being and existence."

With ongoing threats to the ocean intensifying, there is urgent need to focus on solutions: Dr. Nichols and his team of deep-thinkers with a passion of the world’s ocean believe that new insights may emerge as they delve into and better understand the human brain and its relationship with the oceans. Currently, little data exists about the brain ‘on the ocean’ in the field of cognitive neuroscience, or the ocean research and conservation communities.

These pioneering thinkers and activists ask, "What happens to the brain when a person is in proximity to the ocean? Why do we spend hard-earned money to vacation, live or dine within the view or sound-shed of the sea? What are the links between the ocean, relaxation, stress and public health? What are the fundamental emotional drivers behind our voracious appetite for disappearing seafood?"

These are the issues that Dr. Nichols ponders together with his colleagues in the neuro-conservation discipline … and the answers that the open water swimming community can help shed some light at least from one fully exposed, highly passionate, fully dialed-in demographic group.

This year BLUEMiND will provide a platform for scientists from National Institutes of Health, Penn, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Duke University, Institute of Neuro Innovation, The Greenstein Institute, Sands Research and other institutions and organizations to present, discuss, debate and better understand these interconnections, supporting further exploration on the implications for ocean and human health. Topics to be explored include post-traumatic stress disorder and the ocean, open water swimming and youth empowerment, the brain on seafood, the science of playing in the ocean, and the main theme of memory.

"Nostalgia is the word we use for a special kind of memory. For many people nostalgia is connected to the sea. What do you want your kids to be nostalgic about? The ocean is a pretty good choice for a lifetime of fond memories that can help us manage stress and think creatively. The goals of the summit are to expand the conversation we jump started last year, hear about new findings and promote several new lines of mind and ocean research in order to add a new tool to our ocean conservation and human well-being toolboxes," explains Dr. Nichols.

The summit will be livecast to the public free of charge at Mind and Ocean. For program updates and further information, visit BLUEMiND.



Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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