Tag Archives: travel

The Transformative Magic of Travel

Travel, for any reason, has the potential for new insights and, if you’re very fortunate, you may even experience the transformative magic of travel to a “thin place.”

 “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” G. K. Chesterton

I began to relate to my travels in a totally different way after a friend shared a compelling travel article entitled, “Where Heaven and Earth Kiss,”  written by Eric Weiner. Weiner references the term, “thin places,”  defined by travel blogger Mindie Burgoyne as “a place that draws you into itself, and transports you into the presence of a world beyond this world. You are moved into the presence of a mysterious power. There, all things you perceive through your senses are charged, electrified, illuminated with the presence of that power.” Weiner elaborates on the concept by saying, “A thin place is where the sublime bends low.”

We can all relate to our senses being charged and illuminated in the presence of breathtaking beauty. However, the distinction is that “thin places” connect us to something beyond ourselves – or perhaps to something deep within ourselves. When in the presence of thin places, Weiner goes on to say, we “perceive intuitively or through some inexplicable perceptive powers, glimpses of the divine.”  In these thin places, the distance between Heaven and Earth collapses.

Reading Eric Weiner’s intriguing article, I instantly recalled my first two encounters with places where I was deeply impacted by an unseen, unexpected transformative energy.

The first occurred in the early 80’s while traveling in Israel. During our time there, local friends took usOldCity to Jaffa, one of the world’s oldest cities. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Jaffa’s harbor has been in use since the Bronze Age.

We visited our friend’s art studio, located in an ancient building overlooking the port of Jaffa. Following our tour, I walked to the water’s edge. It was there I had an unexpected sensation. I felt the energy of this ancient place touch something deep inside of me that rang with familiarity. “I have lived here before,” was the message that came through loud and clear. This was my first sense of a connection to a past life. It caught me totally by surprise. While the feeling was profound, I felt completely at ease with it. Of course, I mentioned it to no one at the time, lest they look askance and question my sanity. Today I would have no reluctance in sharinging my experience. Nor, all these years later, has the memory of that feeling diminished!

“Thin places captivate our imagination; we gain connection and become part of something larger than we can perceive.” Eric Weiner

PrayFlagIt wasn’t until many years later that I had my next experience with a “thin place.” In 2002 I traveled for the first time to Tibet. Located on the “roof of the world,” Tibet has an average altitude of over 13,200 feet and is situated on a massive plateau between two Himalaya ridges. There is breathtaking scenery, profound spiritual awareness, spectacular vistas, and huge tracts of soothing emptiness. But it is not an easy place in which to live or visit; the terrain is severe and the air thin, requiring tourists to use oxygen to avoid altitude sickness.  But the people are cheerful, devout and serene. The sights of the colorful prayer flags dancing in the wind, the sounds of constantly twirling prayer wheels and the hum of chanted mantras took up residence in my being. Tibet’s energy enveloped me.

The group I traveled with could have left me there! I knew I would have been happy and content making a life in that sacred place! What was that about? At the time, I had no words for it. I still don’t.

 “In truth, however, once you’ve been in a thin place and allowed your spirit to absorb that which transcends the senses, all need for definition ceases. Our spirits learn differently than our minds.” Mindie Burgoyne

I had the good fortune to return to Tibet four years later. This time, in this magical, sacred place, Tom and I were married. Perhaps, in some mysterious, divine way, this culminating event, I could never have imagined, had been calling me long before.

“There is an indefinable, mysterious power that pervades everything.  I feel it, though I do not see it.  It is this unseen power that makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses.  It transcends the senses.” Mahatma Ghandi

 Thin places, according to Weiner, are often sacred ones – St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul – but they needn’t be, at least not conventionally so. For one dear friend who has traveled extensively, Minnesota’s North Shore is, hands down, her thin place. For another friend, it’s Denali in Alaska.

Thin places captivate our imagination; we gain connection and become part of something larger than we can perceive. “You don’t plan a trip to a thin place,” Weiner goes on to say. “You stumble upon one. To some extent, thinness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Travel to thin places doesn’t necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a ‘spiritual breakthrough,’ whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Regardless, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.”

 “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”  Henry Miller

 

 

 

Travel and the Five Elements

36746077 - five elements, creation and destructive circlesThere is a compelling connection between travel and the Five Elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. This ancient Five Element theory is an essential foundation for Chinese philosophy, medicine, martial arts, and Feng Shui. Each Element has its own characteristics and each has an affiliation with different aspects of nature: direction, season, climate, color, and shape. They are also believed to govern our physical, emotional and spiritual existence. In Chinese medicine, they are associated with our organs, sensory organs, body parts and emotions. And, each Element corresponds to specific personality characteristics.

All of us have a constitutional affinity to one or more of these Elements. The following is a general description of the personality traits associated with each Element. Take note of which Element(s) you resonate to and its influence on how you might approach a beach vacation.

71570134 - young woman walking away alone in a deserted beach on an autumn day. If your primary Element is Water, you tend to be introspective, solitary and imaginative. You are more a thinker than a doer. You are dependable, infinitely resourceful, and single-minded in pursuit of your goals. Difficult or demanding situations do not cause you to hesitate or retreat because you have a firm, unshakable sense of self. You follow the path before you with strength, purpose and determination. Your strength lies in your ability to remain flexible and adaptable. The Water personality takes long walks on the beach.

Action compels the Wood personality. You are bold, decisive and perform well under pressure. YouBeachRun are more a doer than a thinker. You are driven by the need to stay in motion and reach new heights. You constantly seek out new challenges. You love adventure and like to strike out on your own. Wood energy is very health-focused, ambitious, and fiercely independent. You are entrepreneurial and your potential is unlimited. Running on the beach is your preference.

46421713 - smiling friends playing volleyball at sandy beachExcitement, enthusiasm and generosity drive the Fire personality. Fire is the force that generates passion, compassion and creativity. If you are energized by Fire, you are filled with a blazing love of life. You value interaction and thrive on drama and excitement. You are fun loving and your natural joy and exuberance excites everyone around you. The Fire personality plays volleyball on the beach.

 People with dominant Earth energy are the peacemakers of the world. You are nurturing,Sand sympathetic and accommodating. You tend to be practical and down to earth and enjoy both anticipating and meeting the needs of others. You value tradition, loyalty, security and predictability. Your strength comes from your ability to nurture and promote connectedness with others. Earth people build sandcastles.

Those with Metal as their predominant energy tend to be36184316 - beach cabana on a maldivian island well organized, analytical, and disciplined. You hold yourself and others to the highest standards, always striving for excellence. People associate you with elegance and refinement. You love to create beauty and value ritual and ceremony. Metal personalities tend to be visionaries, seeing potential in everyone and everything around them. You travel in luxury.

If you found traits in all of them that you recognize in yourself, it is because, in our complexity as humans, all Five Elements exist in each of us.

A wonderful example of how this works is taken from the book, Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield, L. Ac. and Efrem Korngold, L. Ac., O. M. D.: “When we need to take action, it is our Wood that kicks in to gear. When it is time to celebrate in the achievement of our goals, our Fire aspect takes charge. When we are able to let go of old habits and values to prepare for a new stage of our life, it is Metal that provides the power that enables us to release. When our efforts demand we stop, rest, take stock of what we have done and rededicate ourselves to a fresh purpose, our Water aspect gives us the renewed vitality and will to carry on. When the challenges threaten to overturn our efforts or deflect us from our path, the grounding energy of our Earth aspect returns us to an even keel.”

As we take time to better know ourselves, we begin to more easily recognize the one Element that predominates and guides our choices and behaviors. While time and resources influence our travel choices, notice what environments consistently speak to you. A person whose predominate Element is Water might prefer to spend their vacation time deepening their spiritual practice or taking a personal retreat from the world. A Wood person prefers a vacation that allows for a variety of outdoor activities or the opportunity to explore unknown territory. The Fire personality is drawn to locations that provide interaction, fun and excitement. A golfing vacation or one that offers cooking classes tends to be preferred by the Earth personality. The Metal personality is most comfortable upscale hotels, resorts or cruise lines with well-organized activities.

There are always exceptions, of course, depending on what has been going on in your life. If you are a Fire person who has been “burning the candle” at both ends, you might need to find a more solitary destination for your vacation in order to get your Fire energy under better control and bring it back in balance. It can be instructive to give thought to what type of vacation you find yourself gravitating to. Will that environment nourish your Element energy, calm it down if it feels on overload, or replenish if it’s feeling drained. In Feng Shui, as in the Five Elements, it’s always about supporting and nurturing to maintain a healthy balance. Similarly, we travel to recharge, refresh, revitalize and reconnect with ourselves.

 “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

 If you have the travel bug, but think you don’t have the time or resources, check out www.vacationsooner.com to discover how you can take 4 and 5 star vacations at wholesale prices! Then contact me at hinda@livingyourintention.com with any questions.

 “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

MtnLake

Travel and the Magic of Thin Places

I love to travel and am frequently asked, “Which place is your favorite?” It’s like asking what is my favorite flower? My favorite flower is whatever is in bloom. At that moment in time, it captivates me.  While a similar response would also be accurate with traveling, four especially memorable experiences come to mind.

Grapes Living for a week in a renovated traditional countryside cottage in Provence is one. Our cottage was located in a vineyard and it was there I soaked up the magical light of the region. Much to my surprise, the impressionists had NOT taken artistic license! I took hundreds of photos of the grapes just outside our front door, attempting to capture the transformation of their beauty as that incomparable light shifted every few minutes. To this day, I return to the memory of that place when I want to escape from everyday life and just breathe.

Then there was my first trip to China! I could have never imagined personally relating to this country, much less fall madly in love with it. The energy of the ancient melding with the energy of the modern was palpable and transformational for me.

Another unforgettable place is South Africa’s Cape Point, an hour’s drive from Cape Town. It wasOcean there I witnessed the magnificent force of the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans converging. And then
there was cruising the grandeur of the magnificent Fjords in Norway. I still consider both of these among the most intensely beautiful and powerful sights I’ve ever seen.These places, along with so many other poignant experiences and inspiring sights have filled me with awe and inspiration. Mostly, I anticipated they would. However, I began to relate to my travels in a different way after a friend shared a most compelling article:

“Where Heaven and Earth Kiss” written by Eric Weiner, references the term, “thin places.” A thin place has been defined by travel blogger Mindie Burgoyne as “a place that draws you into itself, and transports you into the presence of a world beyond this world. You are moved into the presence of a mysterious power. There, all things you perceive through your senses are charged, electrified, illuminated with the presence of that power.” Weiner elaborates on the concept by saying, “A thin place is where the sublime bends low.”

I can certainly relate to my senses being charged and illuminated in the presence of breathtaking beauty. However, the distinction is that “thin places” connect us to something beyond ourselves – or perhaps to something deep within ourselves. When in the presence of thin places, we “perceive intuitively or through some inexplicable perceptive powers, glimpses of the divine. . .” or what Weiner refers to as the “Infinite Whatever.” In these thin places, the distance between Heaven and Earth collapses.

Have I actually experienced “places where Heaven and Earth Kiss?” Two places instantly came to mind where I was deeply impacted by an unseen, unexpected energy that was transforming.

My first experience was in the early 80’s while traveling in Israel. Local friends took us to Jaffa, one of the world’s oldest cities. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Jaffa’s harbor has been in use since the Bronze Age. Its history is filled with a series of conquests through the millennia.

OldCityWhile there, we visited our friend’s art studio in an ancient building overlooking the port of Jaffa. After our visit, I walked to the water’s edge. It was there I had an unusual experience. I felt the energy of this ancient place touch something deep inside of me that rang with familiarity. “I have lived here before,” was the message, which came through loud and clear. It was my first connection with the sense of a past life. It took me totally by surprise. The feeling was profound, yet I felt completely at ease. Of course, I mentioned it to no one at the time, lest they look askance and question my sanity. Today I would have no reluctance to share the experience in the moment. Nor, 30 years later, has that memory diminished!

“Thin places captivate our imagination; we gain connection and become part of something larger than we can perceive.”  Eric Weiner

It wasn’t until 20 years after my trip to Jaffa that I had my next experience with a “thin place.” Literally as well as figuratively! In PrayFlag2002 I traveled to Tibet for the first time. Located on the “roof of the world,” Tibet has an average altitude of over 13,200 feet and is situated on a massive plateau between two Himalaya ridges. I was astonished by my response to this place. While there is breathtaking scenery, spiritual awareness, spectacular vistas, and huge tracts of emptiness, it is not an easy place in which to live or visit! The weather can be extreme, the terrain is severe and the air thin, requiring tourists to use oxygen to avoid altitude sickness. But the people are cheerful, devout and serene. The sounds of constantly twirling prayer wheels along with the hum of chanted mantras took up residence in my being. Tibet’s energy enveloped me. I could have stayed and knew I would have been happy and content making a life there! What was that about? At the time, I had no words for it. I still don’t.

“In truth, however, once you’ve been in a thin place and allowed your spirit to absorb that which transcends the senses, all need for definition ceases. Our spirits learn differently than our minds.” Mindie Burgoyne

Amazingly, I had the good fortune to return to Tibet four years later. This time Tom and I were married in this sacred place. Perhaps, in some mysterious, divine way, this culminating event, I could never have imagined, had been calling me long before.

“There is an indefinable, mysterious power that pervades everything.  I feel it, though I do not see it.  It is this unseen power that makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses.  It transcends the senses.” Mahatma Ghandi

While thin places, according to Weiner, are often sacred ones – St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul – they needn’t be, at least not conventionally so. For one dear friend who has traveled extensively, Minnesota’s North Shore is, hands down, her thin place. For another friend, it’s Denali, Alaska.

“A thin place is not necessarily a tranquil place, or a fun one, or even a beautiful one, though it may be all of those things. Thin places may relax us, but they also transform us – or, more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves.” - Weiner

Thin places captivate our imagination; we gain connection and become part of something larger than we can perceive. “You don’t plan a trip to a thin place,” Weiner goes on to say. “You stumble upon one. To some extent, thinness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Travel to thin places doesn’t necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a ‘spiritual breakthrough,’ whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.”StM

Next month we are going on a pilgrimage to sacred sights in France. While I anticipate feeling awe in the presence of these ancient sites, I am also open to whatever messages are there for me. Stay tuned.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller

Conscious Travel

My friends know I love to travel! Locally or abroad, it doesn’t really matter to me; every place has something to offer and I’m both an eager participant and student. Implicitly compatible with my love of travel, is my practice of Feng Shui. A reverent system, Feng Shui offers practical advise about ways we can connect to the energies of our planet and is based in ancient wisdom that understood the inter-connectedness of everything around us.NautA01

These Feng Shui concepts have given me new ways to view the world, and as a result, increasingly engage in what I call “conscious travel.” We may get away with going through the routine of our day on automatic pilot, but traveling compels us to entertain a certain amount of alertness and awareness; it urges us to be fully aware of whom we are and where we are.

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.Bill Bryson

Reasons to travel are varied and unique to each of us. We travel to learn about other cultures, try new cuisine, visit museums, cultural and historical sights, hike, ski, get away from the routine, relax and so on. And we are captivated by the natural beauty of the places we visit.  Whether it’s Minnesota’s land of 10, 000 lakes, the glacial valley of Bhutan’s lush national park of Phobjikha, or the gorgeous beaches of the world, we seek to connect with nature as it exists, independent of us.

The wind is mild, the sun is warm, the water is clear, the trees are lush. Such a spot has good Feng Shui. –Ancient Chinese couplet

Being in the natural world offers us the opportunity for relaxation, for visioning, for dreaming, for exhilaration, for comfort, for de-compressing, or for simplifying. And, indeed, the first principle of Feng Shui is “Nature is the Model.” Nature is beauty in its purest form. It can be our healer and our teacher. The practice of Feng Shui encourages us to understand what makes a forest of trees soothing or a beautiful sunset inspiring.  When we intentionally incorporate that energy  into our home or office environments, these man-made surroundings also become more soothing, inspiring and harmonious.

I was recently reminded of how nature can be both a healer and a teacher. We traveled to Glacier National Park earlier this month. It was my first trip where the primary intention was hiking. This brought me face to face with nature in a way different from previous travel experiences. I was confronted with the necessity of learning about the habits of bears and how to be respectfully present in THEIR environment. I was the interloper in their space! Definitely a new perspective that became real not just conceptual!BearA

Bear sightings were abundant. One lone bear decided to take the path I was on. Fortunately, it chose to walk away from me rather than toward me! If he, or she, had decided to come my way, I honestly would have been terrified, but with my newly learned knowledge, I trust I would have responded appropriately.

 

 

The majestic beauty of the area was inspiring! And having experienced a personal loss the month prior, the physical activity of hiking in the beauty of the mountains and lakes provided a healing perspective; a humbling reminder there is so much out there bigger than I!

LakeA

Isn’t that really what traveling offers when we seek to experience the “nature” of a place? Don’t we expect, at least privately, to return changed just a little? More relaxed, better informed, more open to life, and to other ways of being, more expanded, if you will. This is what conscious travel is about. It’s also good Feng Shui!

 The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust 

 

I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me to share travel experiences that have changed you in some way.