Healing in every sense
Getting (literally) in touch with our beautiful surroundings can make a world of difference
By Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C.
Published in Tofino Time magazine’s February 2014 issue
Never mind becoming a famous surgeon or making your first million before you turn 30; in my experience, most humans are desperate for whatever crumbs of meaning, purpose or peace they can gather.
Consider that most of us face the same struggles every day – perceptions of self-worth, the challenge of holding down a job or launching a new business, managing a health issue, raising children, caring for elderly parents, or simply striving to fit into an increasingly complicated world.
On top of that, it must be said that the many of the talented, diverse, impassioned and creative individuals that make up our little fishing village here on the fringe of Canada’s Wild West Coast have an extra hurdle to conquer. Our impassioned commitments to our chosen crusades all too often manifest as extreme intolerance of others’ actions or points of view.
Why can’t we all just get along? We can – by simply remembering that we have virtually all the natural powers of healing right on our doorstep. After all, a strong love of beautiful natural surroundings is what brought many of us here in the first place.
As a consultant in the spa and wellness industry, I have seen the weariness of strife etched in many a face. But I’ve also seen how the amazing power of healing can transform lives.
It’s time for some healing, Tofino-style. And with strong intention and a solid grounding, we can do it through all five senses.
Can visual space heal? Take time to look at the wonderful works of our many local gifted artists. Immerse yourself in the soothing natural vistas of our vast horizons, and invite the vastness inside yourself. Think of an inspiring myth or a visual paradigm. Think about looking within yourself for what you have in common with others instead of focusing on our differences.
Your new perspective has already begun.
Sound has a resonance and ability to heal far beyond our wildest dreams – whether it’s the pounding of the ocean, the lapping of incoming/outgoing tides, the wind rustling the leaves, frogs singing or the sweet songs of birds in the trees. Consciously open to the possibilities of the cathartic effect of all you see, hear and feel.
Smells have a profound effect on our olfactory system, the only place in the body where our central nervous system is directly exposed to the environment. Breathing in our wonderful sea air has am amazing salutary effect. Take this one step further with this little exercise: while facing the open ocean, breathe in possibilities, breathe out self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.
Whether it is the grounding effect of your feet on the sand as the grains disperse between your toes, walking on rocks or on a forest-capped carpet of moss, or the feeling of your hands or face against the tree bark or ocean water, Tofino offers an abundance of natural hydrotherapy and grounding therapy. No wonder it’s a mecca for therapists helping individuals gain health and well-being. In today’s sterile techno culture, there has never been a greater need for the power of touch. Start by bringing your awareness to your body, whether it’s your tailbone on a stump or your feet up on a log. I invite you to become conscious of the power and intention communicated through touch.
The taste of the salt sea, the plethora of powerful nourishment of Tofino’s variety of fresh foods, the best fish and chips, salmon belly, or delights made by the loving hands at Green Soul Organics. Taste has its place in the hierarchy of healing – and even more profound when it’s intentionally combined with love. Is this where the saying “I’ve got love in my tummy” comes from?
I believe that with a commitment to overlooking our seeming differences and embracing our common vision of a healthier, happier and genuinely more bountiful Tofino, this little community could lead the world down a path towards greater sustainability and harmony with nature. Our deepest desires for the well-being of our community hold the seeds of potent possibility. But I have to wonder if we have the courage within us to push through the darkness for these seeds to see the lovely light of day.
Can we find the courage within ourselves to witness others’ differences and hold the space of acceptance instead of labelling or rejecting them based on our own focus and judgements? Can we create a healing context for those who answer the call? Can we collectively join together in a unified vision?
Tofino can emerge as a town united in its common aim of building a prosperous yet naturally unspoiled exemplar of cohabitation with nature. Our powerful opportunity is to work together to be the stewards of this great land, support one another in seeing our shared vision, and achieve the potential to inspire healing in others, who will join us in protecting this fragile haven we call home.
What can you do? Stay with your tribe/church club, your environmental group, your PTA or your web-based gathering. But always involve yourself in a spirit of generosity and open-mindedness towards others – knowing that, in the end, the vast majority of us want a healthier, more peaceful world.
Five senses, five steps to healing.
I am so grateful to be here.
“Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive” Dalai Lama.
Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C., President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., has earned an international reputation as an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She specializes in working with owners to create profitable spas. As an international consultant she is highly skilled in developing unique product and treatment lines, as well as training programs. Vivienne has studied and trained extensively in the beauty and well-being arena and is a member of ISPA, Leading Spas of Canada (for which she won an Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005 and 2012) and the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA). She is also a published author, having written a wide range of articles on developing and running a successful spa. Spa Profits Consulting Inc. is the only SpaExcellence certified consultancy in North America, and is committed to setting the standard for quality, successful spas on a global level. For more information call 604.921.6245 or email