“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ The two young fish swim on for a bit. Eventually, one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the heck is water?'”
Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees – or water either, for that matter. And awareness is a mindful thing – how do we cultivate it?
Nichols begins his book describing the moment he is standing on a pier in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, 50′ feet above the ocean, about ready to jump while wearing a “bejeweled swim cap” bedecked with long black snakes of cable running down his back – a lab rat about to measure the brain’s response to the ocean. The cap is a “nerve center,” a mobile electroencephalogram (EEG) unit, invented by Dr. Stephen Sands, a biomedical expert examining the behavioral and neurophysiological data that tracks the brain’s response to advertising.
American anthropologist Loren Eiseley said: “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” Eiseley once described human beings as “a way that water has of going about, beyond the reach of rivers.”
In fact, the earth is 70 percent covered in water, 95 percent of those waters as yet undiscovered, and 80 percent of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the coastline of an ocean, lake or river. Why? Because to human beings, water is “home.” We spend nine months suspended in water before birth. At birth, our bodies are 78 percent water; the human brain is 80 percent water.
Nichols: “It is time to drop the old notions of separation between emotion and science…Just as rivers join on their way to the ocean, to understand Blue Mind we need to draw together separate streams: analysis and affection; elation and experimentation; head and heart…today cognitive neuroscientists have begun to understand how emotions drive virtually every decision we make.”