The Science of Seadation

Life is often a wave: you can be riding the crest one day, then caught in the undertow the next. Several days into a bad week, my frustration hit its peak where not even a facetious serenade of the “Bad Day” song could pacify me. I decided that instead of sulking into my bedsheets, I would make the most of my evening. Thanks to daylight savings, a Pau Hana paddle had become a viable option.

I paddled out off of Palm Beach after work on a choppy, miserable day to paddle. Despite the rough conditions, I felt like a blithe spirit had rushed through me and felt content when my toes hit the Atlantic. In the middle of the magic, I spotted a manta ray followed its path. I fell off my board no less than three times, but found myself giggling alone as I fought to get back on. I was completely seadated.

So why does the ocean make us feel serene? It’s not just because the ocean is often used as a symbol of relaxation, and not because blue the most preferred color. There is truly a science to seadation.

Water and salt are both essential chemicals to drive biological processes in the human body. So when you approach the salty sea, your body goes through a series of neurological responses that tells your mind “You need this, you like this.”

Looking at the ocean is a very simple image for the brain to process. On a perfect day, a blue ocean meets a blue sky, split by a clean horizon. This uncomplicated beauty of a single color allows the brain can take a little vacation from the emails, traffic and other complex images it had to decode all day. The rhythm of the ocean is also primal for the brain to process, as it sounds similar to our autonomic breath. This soft stimulation from the ocean puts the mind into an alert yet meditative state.

Salt normally has a bad reputation, but it’s the necessary electrolyte that maintains a balance of hydration in the body, and controls fluid motion across cells. Sea salt is not just sodium chloride, but also contains the essential minerals magnesium, calcium and potassium. Salt in the ocean preserves tryptamine which drives the formation of serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters that make you feel happy and relaxed. Tryptamine in excessive amounts, when consumed in a synthetic form such as LSD, has psychedelic effects which is why taking hallucinogens is referred to as “tripping.” So don’t do drugs kids, and go to the beach instead.


Being submerged in salt water increases circulation, and reduces inflammation. Mother Nature has created a giant Epsom salt bath to ease our aches. It’s also calmly invigorating to be floating freely in the water, as it provides a 360 degree interaction with our environment. What other feasible scenario can you be in full contact with a substance, and have the freedom to move up, down, and laterally without the restriction of gravity? This dynamic situation causes a rush of endorphins which can cause and “out of body” experience. Similar to “runner’s high”, a surfer’s or swimmer’s high is a reality.

By the principles of seadation it turns out the ocean is pretty psychedelic.  I find it not to be coincidence that images referred to as “trippy” tend to have waves and swirls that look like the patterns of the ocean.

Much credit due:

{For the Rad Surf Set} Nalu Tribe X Schatzi Brown in Painted Dessert Crop and Surf Legging. Use Code “GlobalLocal” for 15% off.

{For the Knowledge} Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols, Psychology Today, and Dr. Deby Cassill of the University of South Florida for giving me the gift of seeing the world in a deep way.