A practical guide to visiting ancient sites and “tuning in” with nature - Part 1
The tours I help organize often have a self-development or spiritual theme. I have spent many weeks on the road traveling with open-minded people from all over the world; many of the people who join me are teachers in their own right and often share their experience and insights with our groups. The techniques I encourage others to use are a simple combination of metaphysical beliefs and scientific understandings.
Below, you will find techniques and simple tips that I use and share on tour with guests to help them gain deep insights and inner peace. These tips can be incorporated into our daily or weekly lives when we need a moment of calm. I have placed recent scientific perspectives alongside my personal experience and understanding of eastern self development practices.
We all have constant pressures, deadlines, and families to look after. A common pattern is to clear our “to do list” for the day and then sit down to watch our favorite TV show, or perhaps visit the cinema to watch the latest movie.
I have spent considerable time studying ancient wisdom traditions that have survived until the present day. We have very little information on the spiritual practices of the ancient Egyptians or the Druids in Europe. How can we get an idea of their mindset? Perhaps we can look elsewhere for clues? I feel very grateful that the world has one area that acts as a spiritual library for the whole planet: India and Tibet. By following the ancient spiritual practices from the east during my visits to sacred sites, a whole new world has opened before my eyes.
Are we hurting ourselves by ignoring personal reflection time?
Most of us have not been taught the benefits of “me time” and by that I mean a quiet period in the day to for reflection, or to tune in to our state of mind and see how we are feeling. For those who practice mindfulness or meditation, it becomes apparent we are much more than our “chattering monkey mind”. Our busy minds acting upon us can be very tiring. Like anything, practice makes perfect. I always encourage others to try different techniques to see what helps them. My personal favorite is yoga. After yoga, it’s much easier for me to meditate. With a simple change in attitude you may find the impossible becomes possible.
Relaxation and expansion.
How good do you think you are at relaxing? As I write this I have just returned from a very relaxing yoga class where I managed to reach the very rare state of mind of being perfectly at peace. From my experience relaxation is like anything else it takes practice, I have a wonderful friend from Kuwait who is totally open, and she helped bring to my attention that even when we try to relax, we are more often than not still holding back.
Sometimes even when we try to relax, we are often unconsciously still tense. One simple technique that can help, try tightening all of your muscles and gradually relax them, that way you are consciously relaxing your entire body. You can also tense each major muscle group, start at the top of your body and work down. We also seem to carry tension in our hearts; consciously relaxing our heart space is also a good method. Check in with your surroundings and ask, am I safe here? Am I in company I trust? If the answer is yes to both questions you are fine to completely LET GO.
The next step is to enter a meditative state, one method we often use in yoga is to count the thoughts that come up as you try to clear your mind, this can be an effective way to control them, becoming aware of how the mind rotates between different subjects is an interesting process to witness. Merely observe the process without engaging the thoughts, they will pass you by.
You may find yourself becoming more at peace, with a growing feeling of contentment. The deepest stage of relaxation can often make you question if you are asleep or awake, a feeling similar to a really good nights sleep when you awaken totally refreshed. During this process you may feel a deep sense of gratitude, suddenly it becomes very clear that you are lucky to be in a physical body, to be here in a state of peace is a true blessing. The problems you had will still be there but for the moment a greater perspective shows you what really matters. With practice this state of mind becomes easier to reach. Once you have found it you will find it helps with every other aspect of your life. My top tip is, do not tell yourself this is impossible for you, what I am describing does not take years to reach, once you open your mind to the possibility, I feel confident you can start to experience this state of mind very quickly.