AllThingsHealing.com: Making Peace with Our Planet Q&A w/ Wallace J. Nichols
Posted on Sep 19th, 2012
by Melanie Webb, ATH Asst. Editor of Exercise & Fitness
Editor's Note from Melanie Webb: Critical to having peace on the planet is having peace and a relationship with the planet itself. I met Dr. Wallace "J." Nichols on a kayaking trip while in Catamaco, Mexico as part of a delegation to improve adventure tourism in Mexico. Ours is a campaign to tell the untold story of Mexico. "J." is a man who tells the story of the ocean in a way that makes you want to run for the closest body of water and dive right in!
I invite you to envision yourselves as part of our conversation, sitting as a group talking on the banks of a lake after a beautiful sunrise kayak session around a small island. There are monkeys in the canopy above, old men silently casting fishing nets on the horizon, free-divers disappearing for snail delicacies below the surface. And we, as J. says, are "creating conversation around all things blue."
1. In 2003 you, your wife, and daughter walked 1,200 miles of coastline from Oregon to California. What did you set out to discover, and what effect did this experience have on you as a family?
Throughout history many of the people I've admired have taken very long walks. Cultures around the world hold their pilgrimages in high regard. Our bodies are exquisitely designed for walking. But in modern times few people take more than a stroll around the block. We thought it might be good to walk 1,000 miles. And it was!
I consider it one of the highlights of my life. Walking near the ocean all day, every day for nearly four months makes one's mind very clear. One's senses sharpen and one's body gets stronger. Tides, sunsets and sunrises take on direct biological importance.
Most of the miles we walked alone, as few people choose to walk parallel to the coast, even in highly populated areas. But the northern half of the state's coast is still in fairly good shape and we walked in bear, bobcat and deer tracks.
2. How does exercising on, in, and around water benefit the human mind, body, and emotions?
We know that exercise is good for our brain. We also know that regular meditation or mindful practice is good too. Recent research suggests that being by water calms our nerves as well as anything. So, to my mind, exercising on, in or near water must be the ultimate in brain training! I think the research will bear that out, but for now it's just a matter of connecting some big dots and doing some personal testing.