Considerable research has been conducted regarding the healing powers of nature. In Japan, doctors write prescriptions giving a patient 15 minutes of time in the outdoors each day to help them heal from major afflictions. Other research points to a healing rate up to 30 percent quicker in individuals who spend time outdoors.
For that reason, Tamarack Song of the Teaching Drum Outdoor School in Three Lakes has undertaken a project he hopes will allow many more people to take advantage of the Mother Nature's healing powers. The plan includes a healing trail to wind through the property.
"When we go outside, we feel better," he said. "Our spirits are lifted and we just feel happy. The negative ions from the big trees help to lift our mood and strengthen our immune system."
Even without the research, he said, most people know they feel better after spending time outside. The healing trail offers a unique opportunity, coupled with some very special features, aimed at promoting that unique type of healing only the outdoors can offer.
The trail begins with a 70-foot suspension bridge. The bridge, Song said, will be the threshold separating what we are accustomed to in our usual everyday life and the serenity of the forest. The threshold experience offers the bridge between everyday work and what the forest has to offer and is integral in the healing trail development.
Another aspect integral to the trail is some sort of smudge, such as a traditional Native American smudge.
"The smudge has something to cleanse and release and prepare the person for another experience," Song said. That smudge, will be provided by the balsam firs growing close to the trail leading into the forest, he added.
Being near water is also an important part of the trail. Flowing water generates negative ions also, which are stimulating to the system and are not only uplifting, but help to strengthen the immune system. Forty percent of the trail borders a pond, stream or wetland. Mature forests as well as differences in gradient are also worked into the trail, and private spaces are important as well.
"On the trail is going to be special nooks where you can go sit and reflect," Song said. "Therapists can bring their clients here, people who are working on psycho-emotional issues. There are special places where they can sit and rest and reflex."
The healing trail is unique not only to this area, but to the country.
"We are getting a certification program going. This is the first of its kind in the country," Song said. While there is another entity in California doing something similar, Song said the healing trail at Teaching Drum Outdoor School is more human-focused.
There is also a labyrinth new to the property. It is a smaller walking path to be bordered by native flowers. According to Baerbel Ehrig, coordinator of the ongoing Pollinator Project in Three Lakes, the plants selected for the labyrinth will reach a height of about 3 feet.
The plants were selected not only for native beauty but also as an attractant for pollinators such as butterflies. This labyrinth will also be used as a healing walkway of sorts and can be used in conjunction with the larger healing trail currently under construction.
"People can have the option to use the labyrinth to just unwind, follow the path all the way through to the center and give themselves time to relax, breathe and rid themselves of all of their trials and travails. It's essentially a walking mediation."
Song said there will be an interpretive walkway sign at the labyrinth to let visitors know the importance of the types of flowers selected for the site and hopefully as an inspiration for people to want to plant the same types of flower and plants in their own gardens at home.
The healing trail and the labyrinth will be open to the public by appointment, either through a guided tour with a certified guide, or with a therapist.
Song hopes to have a grand opening of the trail sometime in early July.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached at email@example.com.
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