Saturday, October 21, 2017

To Smell the Rain


“naples“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”
― Vladimir Nabokov

Up until June we hadn’t seen rain for basically months. It’s been all warm, sunny, a light breeze, nearly cloudless skies and basically perfect since September- and it was “winter.” Not surprisingly that is why so many love to come here in the winter.  But with so much perfect all the time, we start to feel a lack of balance. Often we don’t notice it until the weather starts to change. Being in sunny, perfect weather is lovely, but it is a lot of very powerful yang energy of the yin-yang dynamic. A lot of heat, a lot of dry and because it’s “season” (when so many events take place and population greatly expands) a lot of stress and stimulation, for months.

It is not until we have this huge weather shift and it all of the sudden starts raining a lot, do we notice just how relieved we are. The yin energy in the dynamic begins to offer balance. We feel the calming effect, the quieting of our thoughts and our blood pressure drops. We breathe a little deeper, welcoming the idea of being forced to slow down and relish in the idea of staying in for the night, dusting off that book we had been dying to start and getting to fall asleep hearing the pouring rain on the tin roof.

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”
― Langston Hughes

Not coincidentally there is good science behind this understanding as well and it comes down to ions.

What is the primary health value of rain? Negative Ions. Negative ions are tasteless, odorless and invisible molecules that we inhale when we are in environments that contain moving water, like rain. Once the negative ions reach our bloodstream, they are believed to produce biochemical reactions, increasing serotonin levels that help to relieve stress, alleviate depression and even boost our energy.

It is not only rain that enables an abundance of negative ions to be released, but also waterfalls, the ocean and even dew and mist in the mountains.  Have you ever noticed how you experience a sense of euphoria just being around these beautiful settings and away from the everyday pressures of work, school or home? That’s because the air circulating around moving water, the mountains and the beach contains tens of thousands of negative ions, where as a closed home or office, with all its electronics emitting electromagnetic radiation (EMF) produces positive ions that are not good for our health. To be more accurate, they negatively affect our health.

Several universities including Columbia, Jerusalem University and the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C. have studied the exposure to increased negative ions. Dr. Michael Terman is Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry at the College of Physicians & Surgeons. He heads the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and the Clinical Chronobiology Program at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Terman said, “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods.”  Columbia University also conducted a study using negative ion generators to see their effect on people with winter and chronic depression. The study showed that these generators helped relieve depression as much as antidepressants. If you’d like to add one to your personal collection, this one has been very highly rated (

Researchers from Jerusalem University analyzed the effects of positive versus negative ions on alertness and work capacity.  They put women and men between the ages of 20 and 65 in a room filled with mostly positive ions and found that subjects became irritable and fatigued.  Yet when participants were put in a room infused with negative ions, their brainwaves registered as increased alertness and relaxation and they scored higher on tests measuring alertness and work capacity both during and immediately after exposure.

This was similar to the finding of Pierce J. Howard, author of “The Owner’s Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications From Mind Brain Research” ( ) and director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C., He found that negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy.”

Now that you know this, you may start recognizing that you have your best ideas when you are in the shower, or how refreshed you feel after a walk on the beach.

It seems we have always intuitively “known” that being in nature heals. When we find ourselves experiencing nature’s loving embrace we acknowledge our reactions as we involuntarily begin breathing deeper and our blood pressure noticeably adjusts. However there has been very little scientific research on the matter, until recently.

According to Time Magazine’s look into natures healing powers, several studies are being done. For instance, Dr. Qing Li, a professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, found that trees and plants emit aromatic compounds called phytoncides that, when inhaled, can spur healthy biological changes. These changes occur in a manner similar to those of aromatherapy, which has also been studied for its therapeutic benefits.

Furthermore, in his studies, Li has shown that when people walk through or even stay overnight in forests, remarkably their blood often exhibits changes that are associated with protection against cancer, better immunity and lower blood pressure.

Recent studies have also linked being in nature to symptom relief from health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders. “The quiet atmosphere, beautiful scenery, good smells and fresh, clean air … all contribute to the effects,” says Li.

According to Time Magazine,“ A small 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural setting, such as a forest or a nature park, were less likely to ruminate—a hallmark of depression and anxiety—and had lower activity in an area of the brain linked to depression than people who walked in an urban area.” In addition, “Accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” the study authors wrote.

Looking to take in the rain while staying safe and dry away from the lightening? Here are a handful of great movies that the British film Institute put together that offer powerful and very memorable rain scenes.

  1. Blade Runner (1982)

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain.”

This, one of the most famous soliloquies in the history of cinema, is spoken by replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) on top of the Bradbury Building at the end of Blade Runner (982). Appropriately enough, just like the rest of the film, the scene takes place during a bucketing downpour in 2019 Los Angeles.

  1. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

“Towards the end, Meryl Streep’s neglected housewife runs away from the possibility of happiness with her weekend lover (played by Eastwood), but before leaving she sees him standing in the rain, perhaps crying, and staring with longing through the windscreen of her car. Clint’s eloquent expression of yearning is perhaps his finest acting moment.”

3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

At the risk of spoiling the story, there are few more memorable moments in prison movies than the escape sequence in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novella. After crawling through “five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness”, one of our heroes emerges into a glorious, hammering rain that seems to sum up the spirit of freedom.

  1. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

One of the most popular of all British films, Four Weddings and a Funeral culminates with Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant both escaping from the wrong partners and finally expressing their love for each other. This being the epitome of a vision of England for the international audience, it’s perhaps entirely appropriate that the finale takes place in the rain.

And the most famous of all movies with rain,

  1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Is this the most famous scene that ever took place during a downpour? Using a 1929 song by Arthur Freed and Herb Nacho Brown, it was shot on a backlot when Gene Kelly was suffering from a fever. Myths abound about the filming – that it was shot in one take and that milk was mixed in with the water – but the truth is that it took three days to film and that the raindrops were made sufficiently visible on camera through the use of extensive backlighting.

The summer rain is here, the plants are smiling, the hard surfaces are getting a much needed rinse and the aquifers are being refreshed.  Apart from the inconvenience of having to dart across a parking lot during a torrential downpour, the rains are a very positive and powerful reminder of how we are or aren’t caring for ourselves. Take a deep breath, relax and let it all wash over you. If you can appreciate nothing else about the rain, just remember- this to shall pass.

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Have ideas you’d like to add? Need more suggestions? Let me know!

Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company, CEO of Moxie Creed and Host of Life with Moxie Radio, Saturday’s at 1pm on 98.9 WGUF in Southwest Florida. You can reach her at

Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie



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