Nostalgia for the sea-What does the sea transmit to us? Its symbolism in our transformation

Nostalgia for the sea - What does the sea transmit to us Its symbolism in our transformation

The great reservoir of water on Earth is also the cradle of life on it and a symbol of transformations. Its biodiversity is a source of health and calm.

Nostalgia for the sea - What does the sea transmit to us Its symbolism in our transformation

Approaching the sea is pleasant and refreshing. Contemplating its blue immensity is a fascinating spectacle: the constant movement of the water, the evanescent foam of the waves when they reach the coast, the breeze loaded with a salty and vitalizing aroma that fills the lungs.

Enjoying the sea is more than just leisure, its regenerative effect on the body is accompanied by a soothing action on a psychological level. Everything marine seems to evoke in us an atavistic memory, a strange nostalgia.

By the sea, the body and mind seem to renew themselves. We even regain a certain joie de vivre, as we spontaneously tend to play and laugh.

It is like a return to childhood or to the lost paradise, which in our imaginary tends to appear in the form of a quiet beach of golden sand and the shade of palm trees where we can listen to the ancient murmur of the sea resounding in the shell of our heart.

The sea seems to have no limits, neither on the horizon nor below. Only the sky is bigger than him.


If the sun is the “father” of life through its light and heat, the sea is the “mother”, since it represents – symbolically and really – a great womb. In fact, we spend several months in the womb, floating in the amniotic fluid.

At birth, we are placed in a cradle, which in the past had exactly the shape of a small boat and even allowed us to make a back and forth movement with it that soothed the little one by simulating sea ripples.

Significantly, the Latin words mare (sea) and mater (mother) are very close, the same happens in Romance languages. For both the Egyptian language and the Indo-European Sanskrit, the phoneme “MA” evokes the maternal and primordial under the sign of water.

That is why the sailors, intuitive and accurate, like to talk about “the sea”, emphasizing their feminine condition. In Spain, women whose name is Concepción are often called Concha, which evokes the symbolic relationship of fertility with the sea.


For biologists, life arises from marine waters. The oceans and seas cover 70% of the Earth’s surface –curiously the same proportion of water in our body–, with an average depth of 4 km.

These waters represent a huge fluid mass in contact with light and cosmotelluric energies. In continuous movement by the action of air, they are energetically oxygenated and energized.

However, the composition of seawater is always the same, only the amount of dissolved salts varies depending on the environment and climate, but maintaining the degree of salinity that allows the life of the animals it houses.

It is made up of 96.5% pure water, which forms a sodium chloride solution (10 g / liter) that gives it its salty taste. It also contains magnesium sulfate –which gives it its typical bitterness–, as well as all the minerals and trace elements that make up the earth’s crust and all the gases in the atmosphere.

In this sense, it is important to highlight how the composition of our internal environment resembles the marine environment. Proportionally, the components of seawater and blood plasma are very similar.

The so-called “Quinton plasma”, in memory of the French scientist who investigated it, is a natural medicine that basically consists of sea water and has a restorative effect on the body.

Thalassotherapy is a medical branch that takes advantage of the healing virtues of marine water and climate.

The sea not only originates life but also sustains it. Phytoplankton create more oxygen than the jungles on the planet. The waters evaporate daily in the oceans, thus renewing their purity and causing the rains that fertilize the earth.

Marine reserves of fish and algae are a storehouse of food for humans. That is why it is sad and incomprehensible to see how the marine environment is increasingly degraded with all kinds of abuses and pollutants.


Sea water is salty, just like our blood serum and tears. Salt, in all cultures, symbolizes life and rebirth. It is, in fact, necessary for the biochemical processes of the organism and also one of the oldest conservation systems.

The word salary derives from the custom that the Romans had of paying with a certain amount of salt. Within Christianity, the baptismal font contains salt water, a symbol of purification, and in its early versions it had the shape of a seashell.


The sea and navigation can symbolize the course of life, its cares and worries. From birth, with the departure from the maternal cloister – safe harbor -, each one of us is similar to a small ship in the ocean of existence.

We learn to navigate, to find good anchorages to rest or “lucky islands”. The wind of our passions drives the sails; the gaze, aided by the sextant of intelligence, calculates positions; and the compass of the heart allows us to orient ourselves.

In the midst of that samsaric swell, as Buddhism would say, the light of the sun during the day and the stars at night help us to advance through that desert of water. Avoiding obstacles, reefs and reefs, there can also be shipwrecks.

That is why the story of Ulysses, sung by Homer in the Odyssey, is also ours: a journey full of dangers in the form of gods, giants and siren songs that want to prevent our return home, to Ithaca that symbolizes our being. Essential, a place of peace on dry land.

The depth of the sea also represents the subconscious or abyssal, which is not illuminated by the light of consciousness. They are places of concern, with possible ghostly presences or unexpected monsters.

For the same reason that navigating the sea at night is frightening, when the waters are dark or dimly lit by the silver rays of the moon. But the depths are also home to hidden treasures.

In the words of the poet Saadi of Shiraz: “At the bottom of the sea are incalculable riches; but if you are looking for safety, stay on the coast.”

Numerous literary works, in addition to the Odyssey, describe the dangers and wonders of life with marine metaphors. Let us remember the obsessive pursuit of a white whale narrated in Melville’s Moby Dick, Hemingway’s reflection on survival in The Old Man and the Sea, the magical journeys of Sinbad the Sailor in the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, the stories of Pirates in the South Seas as told by Stevenson or the mysterious adventures of Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym.


The dream world is also related to the aquatic, as the philosopher Gaston Bachelard highlighted in Water and Dreams. If the psychic or psychic dimension –as opposed to the spirit in an active and conscious sense–, above all emotional, is related to the watery, the daydreams even more so if possible.

Dreams, perfectly clear when you live them, are forgotten very quickly in the waking state. When you wake up in the morning, your images fade as water escapes between your fingers. In that sense, remembering a dream is equivalent to getting it “caught”. It could be argued that the sea represents transformations in a general sense.

And like any symbol, it has two apparently opposing aspects: on the one hand life, on the other death. Hence, many riverside towns and in different latitudes –from Galicia to Bali– prefer to maintain a certain distance from the sea, a kind of respect that is not without fear.

Because the sea, which gives life, can also take it away: it is possible to be shipwrecked and drowned, or the enemy can land on the coast. Like the sun – its male symbolic counterpart – it can vivify or burn with its rays.

Likewise, the sea evokes constant change, the transience of things, again using a Buddhist language. It is always in motion, be it smooth or stormy, like our thoughts and emotions.

But it is also true that the agitation of the sea diminishes as it deepens, just as the mind pacified by meditation becomes wide and calm like a calm sea.


As we have seen, the sea is the source of life but it also necessarily harbors death.

Venus is represented by Botticelli being born from a shell on the foam of the sea in the middle of a sunrise. The ancient Vikings deposited their dead on a boat that they released into the sea, believing that they thus facilitated a rebirth on some green island paradise. In both examples, the sea can symbolize life.

“Our lives are the rivers that go to the sea, which is dying”, it is recalled in the verses of Jorge Manrique. But also that return to the sea as origin can be understood in a spiritual sense.

Thus, in the ancient Hindu text of the Chandogya Upanishad, we read: “Arising from the ocean, the rivers return to it and become the ocean itself. And in the same way that they do not remember having been this or that river, so Also all the creatures here below, although they arose from the Being, ignore that they come out of the Being: tiger or lion, worm or butterfly, fly or mosquito, whatever their condition, all creatures are identical to that Being that is their subtle essence “.

In the symbolism of the elements, the sea (Water) occupies an intermediate position between the subtle or informal (Air) and the dense or formal (Earth). Hence, it can be considered a place of passage between life and death, the visible and the invisible. Its horizons of mist and mystery attest to this.

In any case, the sea always exerts an attraction on us because it produces a kind of identification: we feel its waves inside us and its pulse in our blood, it could be affirmed.

Our sorrows and melancholy, have –like the sea– a bitter taste. But our joys are also those of a child who builds sand castles on its shores and jumps with fun when the waves touch his feet. The whisper of the sea, as if it were a maternal lullaby, often has the gift of appeasing us.


Sea water can be a good support for meditation. To do this, it is necessary to abstract for a time from anything other than its presence.


Marine air abounds in oxygen, as well as in negative ions that increase the production of serotonin, with a sedative effect on the nervous system.

Sitting by the sea we will concentrate on the coming and going of the waves … that little by little we will synchronize with our own breathing but without trying to make them go in unison. The eyes remain closed or half open. Finally, the sound of the surf and the breath are the same thing.

The swaying of the water and the breaking of the waves create an enveloping rhythm that induces the slower brain waves to oscillate around the alpha frequency, as in deep relaxation. We feel a lot of peace. We stay that way as long as we want.


Sea water, together with the sun’s rays, favors purifying processes. Its purifying qualities can be taken advantage of on a mental level by eliminating negative thoughts or emotions.

In a relaxed way, but focused on the sea, we advance to the shore. The feet are the first to be in contact with the water. We are advancing slowly inwards, feeling the submerged parts lighter and more transparent, losing density.

When the water reaches chest height, we stop. We feel the warm presence of the sun overhead: its rays reach us and fill our interior with luminosity. We breathe slowly and deeply, feeling that this life-giving air is also distributed within.

Finally, we take a deep breath and dive completely. We hold on for a moment without forcing or losing contact of our feet with the ground and emerge feeling light and renewed.


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