La Dolce Vita: A Sacred Journey Through Italy

Few other places in the world offer a unique blend of rich history and culture and in such an immensely beautiful setting like Italy does. With the array of endless encounters of historic sites and experiencing la dolce vita, the sweet life, as you wander through markets and taste the local cuisine; we can think of no other place better suited for a spiritual journey like Italy.

Ruins of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
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Deep in the Great Smoky Mountains…

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” — Hopi American Indian proverb

I love striking up conversations with people from all walks of life, especially those who have walked down paths I know nothing about. I try to have these conversations as often as I can, because I am always struck by the wisdom I discover in each and every one.

Earlier this week as my family vacationed at Blackberry Farm in the Great Smoky Mountains, I met a forest ranger named Dwight. Dwight taught me the history of the forests, the wisdom of the plants, and how to remain calm if I ever lost my way in the woods. (He’s got a book called “Lost!: A Ranger’s Journal of Search and Rescue” that I look forward to reading.)

I also met a vegetable gardener named John. John fell in love with vegetable drawings when he was a young boy and parlayed his interest into becoming one of the greatest gardeners in our country. (He’s also got a new book coming out that’s all about his journey to preserve our roots.) Ask John about tomatoes or garlic or seeds and he will give you a history lesson on each and tell you what to eat, when. (Only eat tomatoes when they’re in season, which is right now, he said. Otherwise, you’re eating engineered food.)

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5 Ways Taking a Sacred Journey Inspires Sacred Activism

Sacred Journeys are so much more than an opportunity to explore other countries and cities, they often include sacred site tours and are a means for a spiritual travel experience that allows for the exploration of self. Sacred journeys often provoke participants to reflect on not only themselves but their contribution to global civilization.

This marriage of spirituality and action is a concept one of our journey leaders, Andrew Harvey has spent much of his life working around. Andrew uses the term Sacred Activism to describe this concept of compassion-in-action that is the combination of spiritual knowledge, and meaningful action to create positive change in the world.

Here are 5 Ways Sacred Journeys Inspire Sacred Activism:

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The Poulnabrone Dolmen and the Mystery of Portal Tombs

Poulnabrone dolmen is an example of a portal dolmen or portal tomb, not to be confused with passage tombs such as Newgrange! Dolmens are found in Ireland and throughout the world and are generally characterized as a single-chamber megalithic tomb, often consisting of three or more upright stones (megaliths) supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table). (1)


Poulnabrone dolmen on the Burren plateau in Ireland is a classic example of a portal tomb. Photo: Sacred Earth Journeys participant David Chasis

What is a dolmen?

Dolmens are thought to have been ancient tombs or burial markers and also served as places for ritual and worship although their exact purpose and significance is still debated by scholars and researchers. There are dolmen sites throughout Europe and Asia, including the dolmen Er Roc’h Feutet (Roch-Feutet) in Carnac, France, the Monte Bubbonia in Sicily, several in Gochang, South Korea and in Kerala, India.

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Japanese Zen – An Inward Journey

We’re looking forward to sharing our Scenic Zen Journey to Japan with Craig Marshall: Explore Japan’s Spiritual Traditions and Natural Fall Beauty with you this autumn. There is no better place to look inward, discover personal insights, and experience a calm reverence than the Land of the Rising Sun. Our journey has been planned to take you inward as you explore the vast landscapes and ancient traditions of this beautiful, storied island nation.

Before you embark on this enlightening experience, we thought it would be fitting to dive into the school of Zen, it’s historic routes in Asia, and how it is best appreciated in the majesty only found in Japan.


Zen is a school of thought that originated in Asia from the teachings of the Buddha and his meditation principles. For over two thousand years it has been a practice allowing people to explore their inner potential through meditation, self-control, and appreciation for the beauty of our world. The Buddha developed the practice in order to end suffering and help people find happiness, not through the material world, but from a focus on the self-actualized through daily experiences. As tradition has it, the practice represents a direct bloodline of spirituality between the Buddha and ourselves today.


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The relationship between Buddhism and food in Sri Lanka

If you stand in the middle of a market in Sri Lanka your senses will be dancing. The dry heat and brightness of the sun radiate off the bright colours of fabrics. Merchants voices ring out over the crowds promoting their wares. Amongst this buzz of the market, the spices are the real star of the show.

Cloves, cardamoms, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla, ginger, lemongrass, citronella, turmeric, and curry leaves will be laid out in colourful displays that fill the air with their heavenly aromas. What you may also see is the sight of silent monks doing what appears to be begging for food. In the religion of Buddhism, monks relieve themselves of wealth and worldly possessions and commit their life to the spiritual paths of their community. What we may see as begging is actually a sacred and respected practice of giving and receiving. In Buddhist communities, monks are responsible for the spiritual well being of the community members and the community is responsible for the physical well being of the monks.

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5 Tips on How to Journal While Travelling

Documenting a trip makes for a great keepsake, but it can also be a powerful tool for self-reflection, turning any journey into a spiritual one. In this article, we share 5 tips on how to journal while travelling.

As best-selling author, filmmaker, and tour leader Phil Cousineau reminds us in his book to the Art of Pilgrimage, The Art of Travel: Journal, “by honoring our travel experiences through writing stories, poems, songs or creating sketches or other artwork, we can transform virtually all our travels, whether around the world or around our backyard, and make them more meaningful.”

How will you remember your travels? As a blur or as a vision?


In this blog, we share 5 tips to make a meaningful travel journal.

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The Benefits of Going on a Spiritual Healing Vacation

This guest blog post features Harper Reid. Harper is a content writer and has a great passion for travel. Her work includes articles such as ‘Five Ideas for Every Traveller on How to Enjoy India’. In this post, Haper shares with us the benefits of going on a spiritual healing vacation.


Take time from your busy schedule to nourish your mind, body, and spirit.
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How to Pack for Travel Bliss: A Guide to Worry-Free Travel Through Packing Versatile Essentials.

That’s it. You’ve finally booked that relaxing vacation and now it’s just a week away. The question of what to pack makes you a bit nervous and you’re wondering what to do. How will you pack for the possible weather changes and all the activities you may want to do when you’re there? What if you pack too much and you’re lugging around all these extra items? Fear not, this article will teach you what to do to achieve that feeling of bliss before you even arrive at your destination. 

Yes, you can travel with just a carry-on. This requires a little extra planning but it can be a true luxury if you’re traveling to more than one destination. A sturdy and comfortable backpack isn’t just for jumping from hostel to hostel. It is easier on your back and often has more space than a typical carry on suitcase. There are lots of second-hand options that will serve just as well as getting a brand new one. This all depends on where you want to allocate your travel budget. Find a thin, small day bag to use when you’re out exploring during the day so you can leave that backpack where ever you’re staying.

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10 Tips to Care for Your Soul: At Home and on the Road

Often our plans for our days are full of errands, chores, don’t-forgets, and the usual chaos that makes up everyday life.

How many times have you been right in the middle of a hectic day and longed to be back at your favorite travel destination where you felt calm and your soul was at peace? We so often mistake this feeling for wanderlust, or a need to get away from it all. What if you were able to experience that feeling of peace from your last journey and bring it into your everyday life and all your future travels?

The reason that we often feel more at peace while traveling is because we are nourishing our soul. Filling it full of love and appreciation. We begin to feel more in balance with the world as a whole and appreciate what we have at home. This is just one of the many benefits of travel and spiritual journeys alike. Here are 10 ways you can tap into that feeling of happiness and peace in your soul when you’re at home and next time you are traveling.

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7 Tips for More Sustainable Travel

Do you worry about the impact of your travel?

According to National Geographic, sustainable tourism is based on three main pillars:

  • Employing environmentally friendly practices, such as reduce, reuse, recycle;
  • Protecting cultural and natural heritage, such as reducing our impact on historic buildings and endangered species
  • Providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities, such as buying local and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples

Our efforts now can have a lasting effect to preserve our environment and cultures

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5 Ways Peru can heal your Mind, Body and Soul

What makes a journey to Peru so satisfying and perfect for natural healing? How does a vacation help heal and transform us? Here we look at some of the vital ingredients that make Peru such an important place for sacred travel, healing, and transformation.

1. The Sacred Medicine of the Andes

San Pedro (also known as Wachuma) is a sacred cactus native to the Andean mountains of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Along with Tobacco, Ayahuasca, and Coca, it is one of Peru’s most sacred plants and has been used since 1300 B.C. to heal and expand consciousness. The medicine is typically prepared as a tea; pieces of the stem are boiled for a few hours, and once the liquid is cooled it is taken orally. It is known as a gentle but powerful plant and can be used as a tool for meditation and self-awareness. It is very important to work with this medicine as part of a sacred ceremony led by an experienced Healer or Medicine Man/Woman, and with the protection of the ancestral spirits.

Read the Medicine Hunter’s account of using San Pedro

Our group at the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu

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Five Benefits of Spiritual Travel

The world and our lives can rush past us at remarkable speeds. We strive to find time to meditate, read, pray and learn but it can be hard to carve out time for these important spiritual practices as the demands from day to day life keep propelling us forward.

When was the last time you were able to sit in peace and feel connected to the universe? To relax without the interrupting pings of electronic notifications and constant pull of responsibilities? Taking time for yourself and embarking on a spiritual journey can give you back that feeling of connectedness and peace. A spiritual guide can help you discover some of the most sacred places that this beautiful earth has to offer can aide you in reconnecting with your inner self and all the peace the world has to offer. Read on to discover five benefits of spiritual travel.


Embark on a Sacred Earth Journey to discover new cultures and customs.

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History and Mystery of Peru’s Sacred Grounds

Peru has a deep pool of intricate history that was born by turmoil and the beauty of its people. Anyone fortunate enough to visit this country can witness some of the precious remains of a time and a people dedicated to their higher being and spiritual journeys. These were the Inca people. Travel to this beautiful land to discover hidden portals to the gods, underwater cities, and a secret oasis

A History of Turmoil and Preservation

The earliest Inca empire dates back to the 1400’s and may have been the largest and most sophisticated early empire in the Pre-Columbia Americas. The Incas had developed the largest military, administrative, and architectural systems in the world. They worshipped the elements and their lives were ruled by the gods of the earth.

In 1542 the Spanish invaded the Inca territory and so began the early days of the crumbling of an empire. During this invasion, the Spanish sought out as many Inca monuments, villages, and holy places to destroy them in an effort to diminish their beliefs and customs. However, to enter a land without understanding the culture meant they could not possibly diminish the Incas deep-rooted beliefs nor stomp out the undeniable magic of the land.

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Take More Vacations

When my sister Debbie was in the last days of her life, she whispered to me, “take more vacations.” I knew exactly what she meant. She had worked hard, too hard, most of her life and she had worn herself out.

Now, in these final moments, she was offering me some wisdom….

For the last several years I have followed her advice and have scheduled at least one vacation a year designed to restore and rejuvenate my body, mind, and spirit.

We recently returned from 10 days in Greece and Italy and I’ve never felt better.

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Discover Peru’s Recipe for Natural Healing

What makes a journey to Peru so satisfying and perfect for natural healing? How does a vacation help heal and transform us? Here we look at some of the vital ingredients that make Peru such an important place for sacred travel, healing, and transformation.

 

Sacred Medicine – San Pedro (Wachuma)

San Pedro (also known as Wachuma) is a sacred cactus native to the Andean mountains of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Along with Tobacco, Ayahuasca, and Coca, it is one of Peru’s most sacred plants, and has been used for over 4,000 years to heal and expand consciousness. The medicine is typically prepared as a tea; pieces of the stem are boiled for a few hours, and once the liquid is cooled it is taken orally. It is known as a gentle but powerful Masculine teacher plant, and can be used as a tool for meditation and self-awareness. It is very important to work with this medicine as part of a sacred ceremony led by an experienced Healer or Medicine Man/Woman, and with the protection of the ancestral spirits.

Read San Pedro: Mother Earth’s Most Powerful Medicine.

 

Power Places in Peru for Natural Healing – Machu Picchu & More

When you visit sacred sites that have been specifically chosen for their healing energy and importance to the spiritual teachings of the journey you are on, the connection to them is extremely powerful. Machu Picchu, the 15th century Inca site, majestically perched above the Sacred Valley, is one of those energetically powerful sites, and an important part of any visit to Peru. Because it sits within three corresponding high peaks of power, which create an energy triangle, it is a perfect spot to sit and meditate, focus your intent, and expand your awareness.

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7 Well-Kept Secrets About Peru

Peru is one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

 

It’s unique landscapes span from the Pacific, through the Andes and well into the Amazon rainforest, providing fertile ground for the emergence of hundreds of fascinating cultures that come together to create Modern Peru. This diversity has given the world things as beautiful as Machu Picchu, the prose of Mario Vargas Llosa and the tastes of fresh ceviche.

 

While this rich culture and immense beauty make Peru a must-see destination for any traveller, pilgrims looking for life-changing experiences off the beaten path have plenty to discover in this magical South American nation.

 

Here are our favourite seven Well-Kept Secrets About Peru That Will Spark Your Desire For Sacred Travel:

 

1. The energy of Machu Picchu

 

Machu Picchu is a highlight of any trip to Peru and with very good reason. This 15th century Inca site, majestically perched above the Sacred Valley, affords any traveller mesmerizing views and a powerful connection with the past.

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Exploring the Power of Deep Breathing

In recent years, scientists have proven what ancient wisdom has known: deep breathing can be one of nature’s most potent medicines.

A number of studies now show that deep breathing techniques can release stress and improve a person’s mood, making them feel calmer and trading in feelings of anxiety or fear for a more focused, relaxed state of mind.

Meanwhile, other studies have also explored the effect that breathing has on pain perception, concluding that deep breathing “decisively influences” the way pain is processed and perceived.


According to Daniel Stone, who has explored the art of breathing in depth, conscious breathing can help connect the three main aspects of our being: the body, the mind, and the soul.

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6 Tips for More Sustainable Travel

Do you worry about the impact of your travel?

According to National Geographic, sustainable tourism is based on three main pillars:

  • Employing environmentally friendly practices, such as reduce, reuse, recycle;
  • Protecting cultural and natural heritage, such as reducing our impact on historic buildings and endangered species
  • Providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities, such as buying local and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples


If you want to reduce your footprint (both carbon and cultural) on the places you travel to here are seven tips you can adopt:

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10 Books that Will Spark Your Desire for Sacred Travel

Pilgrimage has long been a topic explored by writers from around the world, from historians to novelists and from poets to travel writers. These writers all explored the figure of the pilgrim, providing insight into the art of pilgrimage and what it means to travel.


We’ve put together a list of 10 books are a great example of this. Despite being from radically different genres, they all discuss pilgrimage in one way or another and will spark your desire to embark on your own sacred journey.



10. On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s classic coming-of-age novel is truly an ode to the young pilgrim. The novel, which was first published in 1957, follows the adventures of Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise, two young men who crash with artists and poets as they make their way through America on a shoe-string budget.

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