What To Expect From Spiritual Travel

spiritual travel

Everybody knows I am a fan of sacred travel. Have you ever wondered what to expect from a spiritual travel tour? What might happen? Every trip is different. Every person is different. There are some commonalities to pilgrimage. If you know what to expect, you can get the most out of your experience.

Energy Shifts

The law of resonance says that things of a like nature take on the energetic vibration of the stronger element. For example, if you place a violin near a piano and strike the D key of the piano, the violin’s D string will begin to vibrate. If you walk into a church, you can sometimes feel like you are on hallowed ground. When you walk into a hostile workplace, you might feel that negative energy. If you walk into a place that is rumored to be haunted, you might get the creeps. All these things are signs that resonance is in play.

With sacred travel, it tends to be more subtle. You may feel like singing, creating, or praying. Your libido may perk up. You may feel more energized and bold. Maybe you feel more or less talkative. You will probably feel more alive and balanced.

Mood Shifts

It may not be all roses and song. You may experience mood shifts. You may feel your feelings more. This means that if there is unprocessed sadness, grief, jealousy, or disappointment inside you, this may come out. It may happen in slow leaks or huge waves. Then you flow back into your happy space.

Inspiration

It’s common to get new ways of seeing things. Maybe this means that you re-envision your career. It could be that you get back in touch with a dream you set aside. Perhaps you create something – a song, poem, line of clothing, or a family. The energy can shift you out of your habits so the blocks you’ve created lift. Consequently, things start to flow again.

Renewal

There are many things that take us away from our center. Spiritual travel can bring us back. It can get us away from distractions so that we can see who we are. We feel our inner desires, know our strengths, remember our love, and appreciate our beauty. We can feel that zest for life again.

Connection

Every day life can be so busy. So many things demand your time and attention. When you experience sacred travel, you can slow down. That naturally creates connection with your inner self, others, spirit, and the universe. When you’re plugged in, you feel supported, peaceful, hopeful, and more sure of your place in the world.

Irritation

Most of the things I’ve talked about are welcome and positive, but there is balance to all things. You may feel more irritated too. You may cling to the way things were. Some people want what they’ve always known. Some may feel the urge to push their mood swings away. Some may feel like they don’t deserve their happiness. Some may not want to make the changes they need to step into the person they truly are and take this experience home with them. They make it an annual pilgrimage – a place to visit.

Think of the sacred travel journey as time spent in a chrysalis. Lots of changes are happening. Change is sometimes painful. Sometimes it is exquisite. It’s just a phase along the journey. To really let it mean something, you have to bring that new energy into the world by taking it home with you. Have courage. Don’t leave it in the land where you found it. Don’t let it rest on the pages of a journal or in photos. Break out of the cocoon and let it live. Life is a process. Let it unfold.

If you are in need of a boost to break out of old pattern, spiritual travel may just be what you need. The energy of the group and the places can give you the energy to create transformation. It can be very healing.

To Be or Not To Be

to be or not to be

I travel often and take others on spiritual journeys. Every tour is rejuvenating. Every experience provides growth. Every one helps me to feel both more grounded and connected with everything else. There is always a theme. Usually I decide ahead of time and set that intention. With this last trip I didn’t do that, and I didn’t realize what the last trip was about until a client said to me, “I wish I had spent my childhood learning how to be.” That’s exactly what we did – we experienced what it was like to be.

Everyone has a choice about whether they are going to be or not to be. I don’t mean in the Hamlet sense. I am not talking about contemplating suicide. I am talking about whether or not you decide to live here now. If you plan to actually live your life, you start by being conscious. It’s not easy.

We teach children to focus and spend time on so many things that don’t matter. We spend our childhood getting ready for something that is always in front of us. We go to school to learn so that we can either get into a better school or get a good job. Then we work hard so that we can get a better position. We save money so that we can get a car, house, or vacation. And then we work to get a better car, house, or vacation. We’re always getting ready. We’re always reaching for something ahead of us. We’re never here now. We put off that moment when we will relax, be, and enjoy life until X happens.

So let me tell you what it was like to just be. We got up with the sun. We went to bed when it was dark. We ate when we were hungry. We laughed when something was funny. We lingered over our meals and delighted in the company. We watched the sunrise, the clouds move by, and the moonrise. We listened to the crickets. We felt the sun on our skin. We walked barefooted in the grass. We savored sweetness. We listened to the wind. We felt sadness and horror. We allowed our hearts to be moved. We danced. We allowed ourselves to be human beings instead of human doings.

What we didn’t do was live by a clock, rush to meet a deadline, or think about next week, next month, or next year. We didn’t withhold our joy, fear, or sadness from ourselves or each other. We didn’t grasp for knowledge that we might never really need. We didn’t give in to fear of judgment of not being good enough, coordinated enough, or smart enough. Despite being surrounded by utter poverty, we didn’t talk about the comfort, clothes, or status symbols we left back home. It wasn’t important.

When you get to the last day of your life, it won’t be important then either. This moment is what is important. Right here. If you squander it with worry, thinking about your limitations, or by scrambling to get more you essentially trade it away. Don’t. It’s too precious a gift.

When you are still enough to feel all the things we felt, you find that there is a LOT more to it than just that. Things that don’t have words to describe them. You can feel so much more alive when you have that than all the bling, pretty women, or titles will ever give you.

Once you have it, you will yearn for it. You won’t be able to live without it. All the things you thought were important will fade in significance. And you will find that happiness is so much easier to attain than you ever believed possible.

You probably had glimpses of this as a child. Remember when you just did something for pure pleasure? Remember giving it your whole attention? You didn’t judge it. You just did it with all your heart. Maybe you played with Legos, read books, climbed trees, or went fishing with your dad. There was no purpose to it other than just to experience what you were experiencing. That’s how you do it. That’s what it is like to be.

If you are feeling angry, be angry. If you are feeling confused, be confused. If you are having coffee with a friend, be there. Don’t let your mind wander to the laundry pile you left behind or the yoga class that is coming up next. Be here. If you are working, work. Enjoy the moment – for whatever it is. It’s only here once.

The lovely thing is, you don’t have to go anywhere to be. You can do it at work. You can do it on the way to work. You can do it in the shower. You just have to center your mind. So, you can do this all day or for snippets throughout the day. The more conscious moments you have, the more meaningful your life will become because it makes you more aware of when you are acting in alignment with yourself. So you choose to be more authentic because feeling inauthentic hurts. Being helps to get you out of ineffective habits because it creates a natural feedback loop. If you don’t like how something feels, and you take the time to feel it, it encourages you to make changes. When you shift when it’s time to shift, you create a life of growth. Your life looks more like a reflection of your true self.

So to be or not to be. That is the question. How will you answer?

Things I Learned From Pilgrimage

athena

If a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, how does a journey into the depths of your soul begin? Often with pilgrimage. Pilgrimage offers you opportunities that cannot be measured in miles. Perhaps it can’t be quantified at all. Still men have been doing it for millenia. The appeal is something that never loses it’s luster. Here are some of the things I have learned from pilgrimage.

Egypt

Poverty of Spirit is the Worst Form of Destitution

When I was in graduate school, I was taught that poverty was the cause of all man’s woes. People just need housing, food, education, and opportunity. If they have that, they can be happy. When I went to Egypt, I saw some of the worst poverty I had ever encountered up to that point. Hollow cheeked people begged in the streets. Laundry flapped overhead in the sand blown air. People slept uncovered on the cold concrete. But what I didn’t see was hopelessness or even sadness. I saw ordinary people giving to those without. I saw laughter in the eyes and huge smiles on their faces. In their hearts was warmth and acceptance that I don’t routinely see here. These people embody the belief that life is as God wills it to be. They are able to find happiness and hope just in breathing. Whatever these people lacked in material comfort, they made up for it with a fullness of heart. It’s not poverty that holds us down. It’s poverty of spirit. Someone who has a hopeful spirit cannot be accused of being poor nor can they live in sadness.

pilgrimageYou Take You With You

I host sacred travel tours. That means people – sometimes complete strangers – come with me. As you might imagine, they are not all in a great place when they arrive… and that’s okay because that’s why some of them come! All of them are not nice, healthy people. If you are looking to escape your life or worries through pilgrimage, there is one problem with that. You take you with you. And you are quite likely your own biggest problem!

Fortunately what also happens when you are traveling with a group is that there is a group energy that can sweep you up, if you allow it to. This can give you a chance to see another side of yourself. When you see that you can be different, it just may be the thing that allows you to choose to express that other side of yourself. If you stubbornly persist, however, you really can be miserable anywhere.

Take the Scenic Route

Some of the most beautiful, powerful, energetic places on earth are far off the beaten track. You might have to travel for days by camel, walk up steep hills in the snow, or drive down pothole filled dirt roads to arrive at a place that has no running water, no toilet, and no telephone. Getting to the gold inside of you can be the same way. It’s not always easy. It’s not necessarily convenient. It may not even be all that appealing when you first glimpse it. Give it a chance to unfold. The gift is there. When you get beyond it, you may find that those are the most precious memories of your life. It’s not always about getting there as quickly or as comfortably as you can.

Angor ThomEverything is Transient

It’s amazing at how long the pyramids have stood. We can still gaze at facade of the library at Ephesus. The catacombs in Rome are still there for us to enjoy. Eventually, though, nature will reclaim everything. Everything we do, everything we think, everything we are will just be dust some day. Even if we push back the jungle as in Angkor Wat and Macchu Picchu, nature will reclaim what is Hers someday. For me that becomes an invitation to seize the day. Throw off the inhibitions and limitations and live fully before my time is up and my contributions are lost in time.

Nature Heals

How do you hear the voice of the Creator over the traffic? How can you hear it over the television set? Can you see the Great Spirit through all the light pollution? If you are like me, you’ll find it hard. But go out in nature with open eyes and you can see Mother Earth and Father Sky in every blade of grass, every cloud, every creature, every gust of wind. Most importantly, you can’t help but to identify it within you. Nature balances and heals. When we separate ourselves from nature, when we control it, cultivate it, bend it to our will, and destroy it, we kill the thing that sustains our very life force. When we join with it, it brings us back to our own natural center, to our rhythm.

I don’t know about you, but my pilgrimages rarely feature concrete, air conditioning, and buildings. Nature is always center stage.

cornwallYou Can’t Be Happy if You Go Against Yourself

Nature has a wonderful rhythm. Spring follows winter. The sun rises and sets in a predictable pattern. The tides go in and out. Rain provides sustenance for life. Plants grow in sunshine. Animals eat plants. Bugs decompose animals. It’s all a wonderful self-sustaining system. So are people. The body knows how to heal itself if we give it the right tools to do the job. Contentment is the baseline for humans as long as we live within nature’s rules. But we don’t, do we? When we lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, dominate, control, or even play small, we destroy our inner peace of mind. When we spew ugliness out into the world that comes back to us. You really can’t be happy if you go against yourself. When you live with no pretenses and give others the same respect and freedom, you find that the issues that used to matter really don’t anymore. Life’s just great just as it is. Find your rhythm and live it.

AthenaYou Can’t “Catch” Spirituality Vicariously

Some people ask me to tell them about my experiences or my thoughts because they want to have it for themselves. You can’t catch spirituality vicariously. It’s not something that anyone can give you. It’s not outside of you. It’s what you are. My having or sharing an experience won’t make occur for you. It’s something you have to experience for yourself. What I get from one trip to the next varies. Even if I return to the same place, it’s never the same. How can it be? I am different each time. All I do for others it to make the experience available. It’s up to the traveler to say yes and be present once he is there. No matter how many books you read and how many stories move you, you are not going to really know in your core what the words or stories mean until they become your own.

Loneliness is a Function of Disconnection

As a rule, I don’t experience loneliness. I used to think that it was because I have a large family and there was no space for it. Now that I understand what it means when people say “a crowd is the loneliest place,” I realize that loneliness is about connection. When I went to Turkey, I felt harassed. I felt like I was a customer rather than a valued human being – a thing, a commodity, furniture. I felt like I was standing outside of the energy of life. I could make one-on-one connections, but there was an overall disconcerting and disconnected feeling everywhere I went. The big picture was not at all connected. It felt like I was never on solid ground.

Was it because of Turkey? I think at least partially, yes, because it didn’t feel that way in Cappadocia. Places have energy too. However, it was a reflection of where I was in my life at that time, too. After all, sacred travel shows you where your life is out of balance. That experience highlighted for me that loneliness is a choice. It may take some risk to connect to others. It definitely takes some work, but it can be done because we all want the same thing! When we withhold, it’s because of fear. Show someone it’s safe to connect and they usually will. Don’t give too much of yourself away and it will be safe for you to do so too. That was really uncomfortable lesson, but it was also really empowering.

Ostia Antica, theatre, Latium, ItalienIf You Value Your Comfort Too Highly, You Will Miss Out

During the time I was in Italy, it was unseasonably cold. I hadn’t packed for that. And the day I had planned to visit Ostea Antica, it rained steady buckets for hours and hours. When you go to England, you know to always be prepared for cold and rain. It might be rainy for five days out of seven.

Had I chosen comfort and decided to stay inside or give up my plans, I would have missed out on precious days in paradise. Instead I enjoyed the surroundings so much that the rain just became part of it. It was neither annoying nor pleasing. It just was. I wasn’t particularly physically comfortable, but I was spiritually delighted. I have memories that I’d not give up for anything.

They say you have to get out of your comfort zone to grow. When you do that often enough, being uncomfortable is no longer challenging. You know you can endure it. And you might even find some hidden surprises there that make it worth the trouble.

Going on a Pilgrimage Isn’t Necessarily a Spiritual Experience

Going on a pilgrimage is no guarantee that you will get anything of value out of it. How you do anything is how you do everything. If you live life as if it’s a drive-by experience of things to check off your list, you will have a long list of “accomplishments” that mean nothing, that teach nothing. If you are fully present in your back yard you might get more out of that ten minutes than someone who goes halfway around the world in search of that same experience.

There are places in the world of massive power and inspiration, but it takes more than that to feel it. It takes your presence and intention. If you have presence and intention, you can feel that power anywhere. The world will show you what you need to see if you go with an open heart. Say yes to what is there.