What Are the Healing Benefits of Swimming With Manta Rays and Green Sea Turtles?

Addiction Recovery Publishing Addiction Recovery June 13, 2023

What Are the Healing Benefits of Swimming With Manta Rays and Green Sea Turtles?

One of the biggest issues of getting away from nature is that we forget that we are part of a bigger universe, to which we must do our part to contribute. We often forget that we are in a symbiotic relationship with nature. This experience can be exponentially compounded when swimming with manta rays, green sea turtles, and other ocean life is added.

Yes, we must protect and ensure the success of the other beings around us, but we must also not forget that we, too, get benefits from them. For those of us seeking healing and recovery, these beings offer us the potential to connect with a part of our core selves that many lose during the course of a lifetime.

Not Just About the Physical Experience

It is not just about the physical experience of swimming with manta rays, tropical fish, and green sea turtles, though this experience is exceptional. That is what is achieved on the surface level. What happens under the surface is that we often discover information about ourselves that begins the healing process on a cellular level because there is little doubt that true healing must begin at the depths of the self, with the core causes of our issues. 

From there, the bigger issues and situations become much more manageable. Many people might then ask, “All of this from simply swimming with manta rays?” No. All of this from swimming with manta rays as a part of a comprehensive recovery plan at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab.

The Benefits of Nature for Recovery

When one thinks of nature immersion therapy (also sometimes called nature therapy or group adventure therapy), one ecosystem that often goes overlooked is the ocean. Perhaps this is because it is not as accessible as other nature scapes, or fewer recovery professionals can offer ocean-based therapies. However, regardless of the reason, the ocean is one environment that should never be forsaken when it comes to recovery and nature immersion therapy. After all, the ocean does cover 71% of the entire earth.

Nature immersion therapy has been shown to have beneficial effects on the entire interconnected body. This includes the interconnected cognitive, emotional, and physical self. For example, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Exposure to nature has been associated with alterations in brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that plays an important role in emotional regulation,” and emotional regulation is often a critical component of mental health recovery.

It Does Not Take Long for Nature to Heal Us

The above article also reported, “A growing number of studies have found that exposure to natural environments compared with urban environments is associated with improved attention, executive function, and perceived restorativeness. These studies have found statistically significant associations with positive cognitive outcomes, even after short periods of time spent in natural environments.” 

It does not take long for nature to heal us, and while at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, our clients have sufficient time to commune with nature and the ocean in particular. We offer 30- and 90-day stays at our recovery center, and more often than not, our clients opt to extend their stay once the initial 30 days have concluded.

The truth is that many people are unaware of the therapeutic benefits that natural settings like the ocean have to offer. This is possible because modern society has become disconnected from these restorative environments. Also, this disconnection is not just a concept; this is an ever-expanding reality. For example, “According to the World Health [Organization], more than half of the world’s population has lived in an urban environment since 2014, and this is expected to increase to 65% by 2030.”

This is why it is more critical than ever that we reconnect with natural ecosystems like that within the ocean. According to the article, A Guide to Nature Immersion: Psychological and Physiological Benefits in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Such disengagement from nature often propels individuals to spend a greater amount of time in built environments and engaging in technology-based activities, such as playing video games or other digital entertainment, instead of interacting with wildlife in what now requires clarification as to the ‘real world,'” and ”It is no surprise that individuals are gradually drawn away from natural environment connections. 

Ocean Life and Addiction

The above is especially true for individuals that are struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) or other issues of mental health. It is well understood in the recovery community that issues of addiction and mental health often cause individuals to withdraw from the outside world. Individuals struggling often disengage with the activities and people they love and isolate due to the anxiety and depression that many of these mental health disorders create. For these individuals, the opportunity to commune with ocean life can be a critical step toward treating the core causes of their problems and healing at the cellular level. 

The Healing Potential of Connecting With Ocean Life

A big movement, as of late, has regarded the efficacy of equine-assisted therapy. There is a good reason for this. It has been shown that connecting with and caring for an animal can have exceptional mental health recovery benefits. Equine therapy can increase empathy and responsibility and promote communication skills. However, this type of assisted therapy does not have to stop with working with horses.

The scientific article, Dolphin-Assisted Therapy: Claims versus Evidence, explains that “for more than 12,000 years, animals and humans have been in therapeutic relationships together. Dogs are generally the most common therapeutic animal, but the literature and the historic record suggest that cats, guinea pigs, cockatoos, African grays, horses, chickens, pot-bellied pigs, llamas, goats, and donkeys have all been utilized with therapeutic aims.” 

Now, notice that these animals are all land animals, but the title of the article refers to “dolphin-assisted therapy.” This is because the article discusses the benefits of utilizing ocean life for issues of mental, emotional, and physical health. It should also be noted that we also offer dolphin-assisted therapy (DAT) to those clients that wish to partake.

Yes, benefits can be found in swimming with and caring for ocean life. There is an entire universe that is constantly changing and thriving right under the sparkle of the sea and beneath our very eyes. Connecting with ocean life like tropical fish and green sea turtles and swimming with manta rays and other majestic sea creatures is an ideal way to get away from internal cyclical thinking and negative strife.

There is also a very critical part of this kind of ocean therapy that involves detaching from the issues that we face when outside of the water. It is an immersive therapy, after all. Once out in the water, there is little to do but focus on the joys of the ocean and the task at hand. Ultimately the other issues and problems not only can wait, but they have to wait — we’re out in the ocean. And that those are but a few of the many benefits that engaging with the ocean’s ecosystem can bring.

The Benefits of Swimming With Manta Rays and Green Sea Turtles

Some of the unique offerings we have at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is the opportunity to engage with tropical fish and green sea turtles. This is readily available and always waiting just beyond our 30-acre property. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Although fish and other aquatic species are popular privately-kept pets, little is known about the effects of watching live fish on the perceptions of arousal and the link between those perceptions and physiological measures of arousal.” 

However, the article then reports on a series of studies that concluded that “fish may provide a form of social support via companionship, an implied opportunity to nurture or provide care, a reduction in loneliness, or a distraction from perceived stressors.” Now, this is specifically reported on the positive effects that merely viewing sea life can have, so what then does that mean for those individuals that fully engage and interact with them? 

Clients at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab also experience increased mood and reduced anxiety after engaging with the tropical fish off the Island. However, it doesn’t stop with tropical fish. There is also bigger, more communicative ocean life that awaits our residents.

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we also have a very exclusive offering that involves swimming with manta rays. This monthly opportunity allows for an evening session of feeding and swimming with manta rays. Many of our clients report this being a spiritual experience as they discover their ability to commune with something that once seemed wholly foreign and different from themselves. 

Manta rays are becoming more understood in recent years and have been shown to be highly social and communicative beings. It has also been discovered that manta rays also have “human-like” qualities in that they create friendships both within and outside of their species that have been known to last upwards of 20 years. Manta rays have also now been shown to recognize both themselves in mirrors as well as people. This is even true for recognizing people that they have not interacted with for long periods of time. Similar incredible qualities can be attributed to the green sea turtle.

Swimming With Manta Rays and Green Sea Turtles

Green sea turtles have been estimated to have existed for over 110 million years, and many of them can live to be 150 years old. There is serene wisdom in these creatures. Also, there is a significant “awe” factor that often comes with interacting with green sea turtles. This is not merely because they are such incredible creatures but because they have such a regulated compass of where they are going (yes, this is literal and figurative). Seeing the composure of the green sea turtle helps us to better relax our racing minds and keep the present moment in sight.

As they often say in 12-Step recovery, “one day at a time.” While this can be a struggle for individuals both inside and outside of recovery, this is what comes naturally to the green sea turtle, tropical fish, and the manta ray. They exist as a reminder that we have the potential to adhere to the same principles of priority and peace. 

Yes, there certainly is a powerful message to be gleaned from these animals. Also, yes, there is power in nature. There is healing in the ocean. All of which can be integral components of any recovery plan, especially if that recovery plan is individualized, customized, and comprehensive.

Adding Nature Like Swimming With Manta Rays to a Comprehensive Recovery Plan

Just as it is important to have diversity in the ocean, it is also important to have diversity in a recovery plan. This is what we believe here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, which is why we offer an array of healing modalities that our mental health care and holistic specialist utilize to create customized and comprehensive recovery plans for each of our clients.

For example, our clients can utilize their experiences swimming with manta rays to better communicate with our licensed psychotherapists in either individual “talk” sessions or group therapy settings. Essentially, interacting with the world around us often allows us to access those core issues that have compromised our mental well-being.

Nature/ocean therapy has been shown to work effectively and symbiotically with such therapies as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, and humanistic therapy. It can also add depth to holistic practices like yoga, body development, mindfulness, and breathwork exercises.

We also have two nutritionists, a dietician, and a naturopathic doctor (ND) on-site at our recovery center. These specialists ensure that the physical body is cared for as much as the emotional and cognitive body. Ultimately, this is what holistic care means – the importance of interconnected healing.

These specialists make sure that all of the nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, are restored to healthy levels, as these essential elements are often depleted in individuals struggling with issues of addiction or mental health. Not only do we utilize the motto, “food is fuel,” here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, but we also offer pharmaceutical-grade supplements and restorative infusions that help our clients feel their best physically so they can focus on their core emotional concerns. 

Besides, it’s optimal to be in elite shape if our clients are going to keep up with the swift manta rays and speedy tropical fish. However, as for the green sea turtles, not so much; they go at their own pace, which is another lesson they can teach us.

The Unique Recovery Opportunities at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

One might scoff at swimming with manta rays as a form of therapy. However, this is only due to apprehension and closed-mindedness. On this lack of openness, the British philosopher William Paley once said that “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have one primary purpose, and that is to help our clients heal at the cellular level. Our clients often come to us unsure of where their issues are arising from. We utilize all the tools at our disposal, including the scenic backdrop of Hawaii and all the ocean life it has to offer, to help them find the root causes of those issues so they can resolve them before they head back to their everyday lives.

Nature offers us so much more than many people may think. So why not try all that this world has to offer to heal ourselves? Life is not about the finish line, it is about the adventure, and there is plenty just under the surface of the waters right outside our recovery doors. That is part of our philosophy at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, and ocean life like the manta ray and the green sea turtle help us bring that philosophy to life.

Being in the open water with nature can be a transformative process for individuals seeking a life of opportunities free from substances or working through other issues of mental health. Swimming with manta rays and green sea turtles is no exception. This profound experience can help nurture one’s ability to create bonds with these incredible animals and develop trust and confidence within themselves. Exclusive Hawaii Rehab offers the unique experience of swimming with green turtles and tropical fish frequently and once a month and the ability to swim and feed manta rays. For more information on the types of nature and adventure therapy and other modalities that we offer, reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.