Today I was very happy to walk with family in Spirit Sands & Devil’s Punch Bowl, here in Manitoba. Spirit Sands & Devil’s Punch Bowl is a 10.0 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Glenboro-South Cypress, Manitoba, Canada that features a river.
The Spirit Sands trail is unique in that it passes through Manitoba’s desert, complete with sand dunes – a stark contrast to the prairie farmland that covers much of the southern portion of the province!
Hiking the Spirit Sands and Devil’s Punch Bowl was challenging but rewarding as the trail passed through a variety of beautiful and unique landscapes – from arid desert and sand dunes to wooded forests to grassy meadows with rolling hills. There were also some spectacular views from various look-out points along the trail. Going through this landscapes was emotionally and spiritually enriching. As I walked I felt calmness and healing. I felt peace that that wooded forests brought, I felt healing from the challenging uphills that required climbing on sand and I felt the refreshing air and feeling as I looked down the valley from the viewpoints.
One reality of modern day living is that so many of us lead busy lives, and it can seem difficult to find the time to simply slow down. I am of the opinion that if we spend time in forests — just being present and using our senses to connect with the forest — there’s quite a wide array of healing benefits. One of the downsides of urban living is the constant noise. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a wooded area that’s free from human-produced sound. Silence is restorative, and a forest can have its own healing sound—rustling leaves, a trickle of water, birdsong. Spend a few quiet moments with a favorite tree. If nothing else, when we connect with nature we are reminded that we are part of a larger whole.
Indeed, research shows that trees really do have healing powers. For one thing, they release antimicrobial essential oils, called phytoncides, that protect trees from germsand have a host of health benefits for people. The oils boost mood and immune system function; reduce blood pressure, heart rate, stress, anxiety, and confusion; improve sleep and creativity; and may even help fight cancerand depression. These and other impressive benefits of forest medicine are catalogued by physician Qing Li, chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine, in his upcoming book Forest Bathing, out in April 2018.
Serenity and silence have a close relation and in the woods we can find a space, which allows the silence to resonate, and the healing transformation to happen.Forest therapy prides itself on not being a physically-demanding practice, but one that encourages both the body and mind to relax. Unlike many outdoor adventures, you do not need to be a savvy woodsperson or an athlete to take part in this practice.
Ancient wisdom and tribes, who live in harmony with nature, have advocated this for long, and only in recent years there have been studies carried out to prove the health benefits of forest bathing.
If you are leading a busy life or staying in the city, take time off and reconnect with nature, visit a park at least few times a week, or wander in the woods. I love a quote by Frank Lloyd Wright, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”