Turns out rain is my blue space. It helps me relax and calms my mind. What blue space does that for you?
About an hour ago, I was sitting down to write a blog post, and the kettle was on for a hot cup of tea. I am dog sitting today (this makes me very happy as I love dogs), and had just picked up the sweet pooch from her kennel, met a great friend for a social time downtown, and was back home, looking forward to a quiet afternoon writing and snuggling the pup, and drinking some English Breakfast. My mind was swirling a bit as it does after a busy (and lovely) weekend and hectic work week, and many creative ideas were arising, while I also mulled over some big thoughts about relationships and faith.
Insert here: sudden downpour of rain. Heavy, intense, pouring-down-windows, pinging-on-the-metal-shed-roof, dark-thunder-grey, fresh, windy, steady-as-my-heartbeat, porch-perfect rain, rain and more rain. About an hour of it.
My mood: I was in my glory. I was thanking my blessing-giver, and soaking up the calming white noise of the porch, lawn, trees, and roof. Rain calms me instantly. Takes my worries and sets them aside, brings me into the present moment, and soothes me. Rain takes me back to early memories of swimming in a pool in rain, playing cards in the camper during rain, curling up inside safe and peaceful in the rain. Rain pours over me a sense of the earth being closer, healthier, more lovely. A sense of old things being washed away and new things growing. A sense of rejuvenation. It re-sets my heart and mind like little else can.
Change of pace: my typing, my worrying, and my thinking got put aside for an hour. My tea waited, my laptop waited, my brain waited. A white space was introduced in my spirit and heart, as I paused for the solitude, smell, and sound of rain. I sat outside on the back deck under the wood roof, felt the back-spray of rain blown at me from the wind, absorbed the expanse of swollen grey sky, and let the fresh haze of moisture wash away my stress.
Recently I read an article where researchers described the term ‘blue space’: the sight, sound, and smell of bodies of water, such as at a cottage or beach. The blue waves, the fresh salty air, the sound of seagulls, smells of shore washing in, the large sky and horizon of white clouds stretching out. While for many years we’ve known the beach and water to be relaxing, this article names some positive physiological effects of this water as ‘blue space.’
They explain that being near a body of water is calming and better for our health. Blue space can be a lake, river, ocean, or outdoor pool, and as soon as you get near (see them, hear them, feel them), your brainwaves slow to the motion of the waves, and your breathing and muscles calm, while your mind takes a deep pause in a gentler way. This blue space also reduces stress hormones, much like running, deep breathing and meditation does. A lot of people find this from parks, green spaces, and running on trails, but it turns out we need the blue as much as the green.
As I read this article, I suddenly made the connection: could rain be my blue space?
I have always loved rain more than most. It’s my favourite weather (more so than sunshine), and the start of a good rain instantly betters my mood and reduces my stress. It was only after reading this article on the positive correlation between blue space and stress/health that I realized rain is my blue space (and rain while swimming even more so). It’s not the colour blue, and its not a body of water, but everything I read that happens to us physiologically when in close proximity to blue spaces, are the same things that happen to me to a high degree when hearing, seeing, and experiencing the rain. Hearing and seeing the rain is much like hearing and seeing the waves, the water, the gentlest of love in the earth, falling over me.
So, what or where is blue space for you? This summer, in the middle of your stressful or busy life, I encourage you to think about this. And once you know, go and spend some time there. Your body will thank you, and your mind will thank you.
And if you’re a rain lover like me, and the clouds are rolling in, go and make a cup of tea, sit out on your porch or front steps, and absorb the goodness of all that blue space coming to find you in your very own neighbourhood and home. It’s probably one of the best guests you could ever have.
(Photos by Inge Maria, freddie marriage, and Suhyeon Choi)