|On a recent visit to Tofino, BC., I had the chance to really experience what Beach Therapy is all about. Tofino is on the west coast of Vancouver Island and its beaches are cuddled by the Pacific Ocean. Some beaches are more protected than others, but all offer stunning views, wave movements and sounds, seaside smells and miles upon miles of beaches to lounge, walk, run or play upon. As it is summer vacation for most families right now, I also had opportunity to watch how others used Beach Therapy. Here are a few of my observations.
Without exception, everyone walking along the miles of beach did so at a leisurely pace. Sure, there were a few who were exercising/running along the water, but even they stopped frequently to simply watch, listen and smell the ocean and beach. It’s hard to resist, so why bother? At this pace, people took time to breathe deeply, smile and generally be at peace and one with the world. Curiosity and appreciation were tangible. Even the smallest sea snails, shells or clumps of sea grass were observed with great attention and enthusiasm – as if a great treasure had just appeared for their eyes only. Hearing the excited screams of children looking through tidal pools as they found fish, sea stars, and anenomes had adults walking over to see what was happening. This gave a chance for the children and adults to have a moment to connect and communicate – without an electronic device. Didn’t need one, as they were all “in the moment” together. They all shared in the excitement of the discoveries. And smiles were all around.
It is sad to think we need the fanciest of gadgets in order to have fun, be creative and connect with others. With simply a pail and shovel, children showed how sand and water can ignite the imagination and become amazing architecture, sculptures and beauty treatments! They created their projects for hours at the beach. They connected with other children and passers-by with their projects, some stopping to help them and others offering words of encouragement. Even some teenagers got “down and dirty” and dug huge holes so they could “plant” large pieces of driftwood in the sand! Chances are they would never be caught doing this at home, perhaps being afraid of embarrassment, but somehow being on the beach gave them permission to use their hands, imagination and strength to create these driftwood “trees”. And again, passers-by would offer encouragement and smile at the enthusiasm and imagination at work here.
Watching people stepping onto the beach for the first time was also interesting. Most adults stopped to take in the expansive vistas, while most children ran as fast as they could to the flat sand. Once in position, most children began doing cartwheels! Some danced! All squealed with delight. Some sang songs. And running was fun for them. It was as if I was watching their ultimate expression of freedom, joy and enthusiasm for life. Try doing this in the city, at a bus-stop, park or mall and see what happens! One parent remarked to me how he wished his children could feel this free and happy all the time. We both agreed that children deserve to be free to explore and experience their world so that they never lose their curiosity, creativity and laughter. Hopefully their memories of this beach experience will remind them that the world is still a beautiful place to be. Maybe this day will become their “happy place” during future meditation and relaxation practices.
As for me, I am always grateful to be given an opportunity to walk the beach, in search of shells and sea glass for my home and office. Feeling, smelling, seeing and touching the water and sand is always a good salve for my being. It also gives me a chance to be one with my deeper thoughts which can sometimes elude me during my busy work week. Too busy to slow down and be still – too busy as a human-doing, instead of a human-being! It’s important for everyone to connect with the inner self – and I know that I am at my most creative when I listen to that inner voice. Beach Therapy helps me to reconnect with this truth. And it reminds me that I can’t wait for vacations to reconnect – I must find times and ways to do it regularly. The inner voice actually resides within me, so I take it wherever I go!
The summer is not over yet. If you’ve not tried Beach Therapy yet, you still have time! Not close to beach? That’s okay. Remember that it doesn’t have to be an actual beach for you to feel this way. It doesn’t have to be on the Pacific Ocean. It just has to be somewhere where you feel free, joyful, creative and at peace with yourself and your world. And it could be right in your own backyard.
Article written by Pat Antoniak Registered Nurse-Registered Aromatherapist and owner of the Natural Comfort Wellness Centre in Tsawwassen, BC.