If you feel a disconnect in your everyday life, you might need a visit to a spirit renewing destination. When you journey into nature, you are literally reconnecting your soul to the roots of the world, as a system of trees network their roots and take nourishment from the Earth.
For you ancestors, these natural sites were spiritual in nature themselves, as living beings, where storms, rivers and mountains had their own individuality and spiritual symbolism. When you connect with a forest or mountain, you are recalling your own individuality and empowering your personal nature. Ease your mind and renew your spirit at these destinations:
Cenote Sagrado, Mexico
The ancient Mayans honored water for its sacred life-bearing powers. For this reason, the Mayan rain god Chac is said to have paid visit to cenote sites as Cenote Sagrado himself. These cenotes were kept in a sacred state, taken care of for ritual use. Others were used for daily rituals, from water for drinking to water for bathing.
Cenote Sagrado is one of the most important sacred cenotes near the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, found at the Yucatan Peninsula. Its limestone caves span 60 feet over the water, and pieces of jade, rings, cups, gold bells and masks have been found along with other evidence of sacrifice and ceremony. Take in nature and history at this site, and muse on how the concept of sacrifice has evolved since ancient times.
Vipassana Meditation Center, Shelburne, Massachusetts
There are many locations all over the world to take a ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat, from deserts to lakes. In Shelburne, Massachusetts, the Vipassana Meditation Center is one example of such a retreat, where participants spend ten days in silence, disconnecting from social media and nurturing the body with vegetarian meals.
The center in Shelburne wakes participants up at 4 a.m. to begin meditation, which can last up to ten hours a day. There are no communicative gestures, reading or writing, except in the case of emergencies, of course.
You experience nature and yourself for who you are in the moment, completely silent. Walk the grounds alongside other participants, without touching or acknowledging them, only focusing on the feel of your feet connecting to the Earth, the beat of your heart and the pace of your breath. What will your mind say, and what will your heart say? Discover what silence means to you.
Mount Sinai, Egypt
The dramatic sunrises and sunsets over the rocky landscape are beautiful enough, but Mount Sinai is considered to be one of the most sacred Judeo-Christian-Islamic sites in the world. At the very peak of this mountain, it’s said that Moses received the ten commandments from God. While archaeological evidence is lacking, theological scholars over the ages have built monasteries there and written many texts about the sacred site of Mount Sinai.
At the base of the mountain is St. Catherine’s Monastery, where in the past, visitors made their ascent. Currently, the mountain is only accessible by road, and many hotels will assist with connecting you to bus tours. Be at advised that many tours arrive around 1 a.m. at the base to catch the gorgeous sunrise.
You may climb the mountain on foot or by camel, ranging from a 45-minute to three hour ascent, depending on your pace. If you have any mindfulness practices, the silence of the mountain is the perfect place to find your inner calm.
From the deep pools of sacred cenotes to the peak of Mount Sinai, natural sites filled with spiritual history will renew your spirit and connection with the Earth. Practice ten days of silence at a Vipassana retreat near you, or reconnect with your mindfulness practices during a hike in nature.
In this busy world, the mind needs more peace and calm. Leave the buzz of technology behind for the buzz of bees in nature, and find your center again in the natural world.