July 12, 2020

Healing a Broken Heart in the Shifting Sands of the Sahara Desert.

Misty Galloway


As I stood on the edge of the dunes, the view filled me with a mix of wonder and heartbreak.

Awe from the millions of grains of sand that seemed to flow like ocean currents.

Heartache, as I realized that my marriage to a man thousands of miles away was coming to an end.

Throughout history, people have sought out the hot sands of the Sahara Desert for therapy and healing.

Burying your body in the heated sand is thought to aid in the relaxation of muscles and have healing properties.

The healing that I was seeking was not of the body, but of the heart.

I feel that when I travel, mindfulness is of utmost importance.

The travel experience fills our senses with vibrant images, smells, sounds, and textures. If our minds are elsewhere, we may miss an experience that could change our understanding or perspective.

But that day, staring at the Sahara Desert’s dunes, my mind and heart were drifting.

At home in the Midwest was the man whom I married. The man with whom I stood in front of our friends and family, and vowed to cherish for the rest of my life. He was there, in my home, with my dog and all of my daily comforts. I was no longer by his side. Our hearts had drifted.

I had moved out six weeks prior.

It was an agonizing decision filled with months of sleepless nights and physical stomach pains. It was one made in the hopes that some distance, some space, some time to clear the clutter out of our minds could save our marriage.

Instead, it only caused more pain and misunderstanding. By the time I had left on my trip to Morocco, the relationship felt beyond repair.

As I stood in the heat of the day, I contemplated the desert.

Nothing is permanent. The sweeping dunes of Saharan sand are not exempt. As the sands shift, the shape of the dunes are different from day to day, but never less beautiful.

As the sun follows its path along the sky, the colors change from yellows and browns to pinks, purples, and blues in the shadows. It is unimaginably stunning, but seems so fleeting.

How can something so magnificent and grand shift and change with each moment and every breeze?

Every displacement of each piece of sand contributes to a new land form. The dunes are not steadfast; they are flexible and soft—the shifting of sands, the shifting of love.

Sand is a fascinating topic on its own. Seeing sand through a microscope makes it easy to see the tiny weathered fragments of rock, shells, and minerals. These grains have been broken down by wind and water, two elements of nature that can be so subtle yet powerful.

Each fragment is unique and beautiful on its own. When brought together, the combination and patterns become limitless.

Dust from these sands can get caught up in the wind and travel thousands of miles to fertilize the rain forest on another continent.

The dust from these sands that now seem so dry and lifeless can get caught up in the atmosphere and travel across the ocean and bring nourishment to new life.

It is the understanding that change can bring new life, which gives me hope.

At this moment in Morocco, I could at once allow myself to be sad for what is ending and begin to feel the hope for what can be.

My heart may be fractured.

The shape may be changing.

But like the dunes of the Sahara, the beauty found in each small piece only adds to the expansive possibilities of the collective whole.


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Misty Galloway  |  Contribution: 2,085

author: Misty Galloway

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Editor: Lisa Erickson