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Destinations for the Spirit

USA | Friday, 4 April 2008 | Views [1148]

Traveling is a choice, and it is a choice to make traveling sacred.  Travel can be more than an eye-opening experience into a new culture of relics, ruins, history and tradition.  It can be more than a destination-oriented expedition from Point A to Point B.  The way of the traveler can transform into a heart-opening pilgrimage.  From this point onward, we choose to travel as a force of inner discovery, unpeeling layers of personality to reach the core of purpose: who we are, what we are here to do, and how best we can express this essence within ourselves.

    The following six destinations are places of enchantment, spreading across the globe from domestic to international.  Each location depicts a place of power, ultimate beauty where mankind unites with nature in order to form a personal relationship for the benefit of growth and prosperity.  They force the traveler to open their eyes and look within, deep into the seat of their own soul.

1)    Big Sur, California

Resting on the cliffs of the central Californian coast, Big Sur pounds with emotion.  Not necessarily a town, the area wraps around roughly 10 miles of Highway 101 where land meets sea.  The byway transforms between open seaward vistas guarded by sculpted cypress trees to shaded hairpins fortified with aged cedars.  Carved walls of stone ricochet roaring waterfalls and tall arching bridges pass over lethargic estuaries.  The natural expanse of Big Sur comes and goes much too quickly along this scenic drive, but stop at the viewpoints and breathe.  Stretch your body on the precipices.  Walk the fragrant trails down to the beach or hike into the hills.  And if you create the time and space for unique nourishment, you’ll pull into the gates of Escalen and indulge in a massage at their clothing-optional bathes nestled into the cliff’s edge.  Big Sur is a space in time where harmony between man and nature is a natural way of being.  

2)    Monteverde, Costa Rica

The country is a namesake for peace.  First off; there’s no official military.  Secondly; the national greeting is “Pura Vida” or exact translation: pure life—equivalent to your standard hello, goodbye, yes, and of course.  Costa Rica is the Pure Life, a lush tropical climate where people are friendly, calm and almost reserved in their manners—but it’s just the air of tranquility they carry, comfortable as their economy thrives off ecologically mindful tourism.  It’s the world’s haven for this eco-tourism; adventure-based explorations that take into consideration the sensitivity of Mother Earth, and the town of Monteverde is its' base-camp.  From the thick mountaintops of the cloud forest surrounding Monteverde to its central hub, nature and her pristine beauty are a sacred tradition to locals.  Visitor centers filled with snakes and reptiles attract the eyes that would otherwise never see, and cafes invite the weary hiking legs in for organic sweets and brewed local coffees.  In whole, this ex-pat welcoming culture will make you slip into yourself and out of society forever.

3)    The Highlands, Scotland

Far north there lies a land harsh and rugged where locals are as thick in skin as the wind that sweeps over thundering waves onto their vast and open land.  These are The Highlands, a realm of fascination where myths and fables guide daily life.  It’s a terrain where locals know their seasons; twelve months of sleeting rain with dense fog carpeting verdant glens of deciduous canopies.  At their edges, built as brawny ramparts or collected in ritualistic circles, stones erode to smooth rounds as old castles hang at the lakes’ ends.  Take the famed Loch Ness and delve into the imagination of storytelling, or arrive at Loch Lomond as melodies are sung in heavy accented tones: "Me and my true love we'll never meet again on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond".  The Highlands of northern Scotland encompass a terrain rich in history, as intense and defying as the Campbell Clan once was to the MacDonald’s of Glencoe.

4)    Bali, Indonesia

Thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Bali transformed from the hidden surfer’s gem and textile investor’s paradise to a lover’s abode for honeymooners and wayward wanderers.  It’s the little Hindu oasis of calm, resonating deeply with serenity, sacredness and natural artistic beauty that permeate everyday life on this extraordinary island.  Bali is a fertile ground rich with neon hues of green rice patties and Oriental shrines whose eves turn towards heaven.  The tropical atmosphere relaxes the mind and body, setting the perfect ambiance for a vacation of relaxation or one of enriched yogic practice.  The culture cruises at slow pace, contagiously soothing to the wired nervous systems of the West, coaxing the traveler to explore new possibilities in order to realize a deeper consciousness of the world within and without.

5)    Ko Tarutao, Thailand

Welcome to isolation.  Spirituality involves a degree of solitude where the noise of society is shut out and the silence of the inner landscape is heard.  Welcome to Ko Tarutao, an uninhabited island in the Andaman Sea off the western shores of southern Thailand.  Located in a national marine park, the marooned land mass is available for the true adventurer where the sole accommodation is beach camping just above the high tide line.  A ferry passes every couple of days supplying the local café with amenities for the minimalist.  But I say, seek your inner psyche.  Find that contentment with your Self.  And enjoy an island beside your neighbors—langur monkeys, wild boar and king cobra serpents.  Welcome to Ko Tarutao.

6)    Arambol, India  

There is no place comparable to India.  Mother India is a mini extension of Mother Earth.  She’s a whole separate being inside our very own world, removed yet connected through the bustling economic powerhouses of the continent’s industries.  You arrive from your familiar world and instantly land outside yourself, walking off your now seemingly comfortable airliner seat with no turning back, and you step without any medium directly into a reality filled with energy and miasmic movement tying closely to Hinduism’s dizzying pantheon of deities.  India is India, again…no place, no culture comparable.  Yet venture down to the northern state of Goa to a little enclave of rest, relaxation, yogic discipline and creative meditation and you’ll find yourself in Arambol.  Here you can do anything from indulging in daily-caught seafood to checking into a yoga retreat center.  Or, better yet, design an itinerary for your Self only and enjoy the long stretches of empty beaches to the south where naked bodies align with the movements of various healing traditions, from Qigong to the country’s ancient sutras.  This is India, where every locale is a yatra, or pilgrimage of sanctity.

Tags: costa rica, destinations, india, meditation, pura vida, spirituality, yoga

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