Divers know they love the water, especially being under it. Dive professionals know too – they know the rewards of introducing others to scuba, and witness firsthand the powerful transformative effects of diving and water. Dive pros also know there’s real substance underpinning the tremendous healing power of scuba; many have experienced it firsthand and there are regular, powerful stories featured in The Undersea Journal and at padi.com.
A couple of those stories bear repeating. There’s the remarkable tale of Cody Unser and nine wheelchair-bound divers told in the documentary Sea of Change. “What we saw in the water strongly suggests there is some scuba-facilitated restoration of neurological and psychological function in paraplegics,” said investigator Adam Kaplin M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins. His co-investigator, Daniel Becker, M.D., of Kennedy Krieger, agreed: “We saw dramatic changes in a matter of days. This is just a pilot study, but to see such a restoration of neurological function and significant improvement in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) over such a short time was unprecedented.”
Then there’s Wallace J. Nichols’ fascinating book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. This work assembles data from electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other scientific inquiry techniques to lay a solid scientific foundation that helps explain what happens when your “mind is on water.” Nichols explains that when you’re in water, cortisol (a hormone associated with stress) levels go down, your breathing and heart rate go down and you relax. It’s a fascinating, relevant exploration and belongs in every dive professional’s library.
Sometimes in a busy world full of digital distractions and disparate demands, it takes a little push or an extra benefit to remind people of the benefits, and the importance, of getting up and going diving. The healing power of scuba could be just that extra benefit. Next time you’re reaching out to ReActivate your divers, consider letting them know about some of these amazing stories; it’s up to you to make sure they know everything they’re missing by not diving.