24 Hours in Asheville

Traveling solo, I recently spent 24 hours in Asheville, NC.  Not sure what to do alone, I contemplated several options, but then came across, “Asheville Wellness Tours”, and thought that would be an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Asheville Wellness Tours provided several alternative experiences including the art of tea drinking, essential oil and herb making, meditation in a beautiful salt cave, sound therapy with gongs and Tibetan bowls, and honey tasting at a local specialized shop.

The tour began with a 45-minute session at Asheville Salt Cave, a golden womb-like cave filled with beautiful pure pink salt crystals.  We were lead into meditation as we rested on pillows and bolsters on the salt covered floor, listening to sounds of the waterfall, breathing in negatively charged ions, turning inward and away from the chaos of the external world around us.

Following the salt cave, we walked to Skinny Beats Sound Shop and was lead into a sound healing session with gongs and Tibetan bowls that took us on a vibrational journey that was beyond words to describe. I was given a “taster” of sound healing that I knew I would have to return to.

Next, we were given an introductory explanation of herbs and essential oils at herbiary, which offers natural remedies for every kind of alignment imaginable, including emotional and psychological disorders.

From the herbiary, we walked to Asheville Bee Charmer, for honey tasting, where I was given several different types of honey to try, including sage honey, a favorite of mine.

Lastly, we ended the tour at Dobra Tea, where we shared in Japanese style, “Clear Communication Tea.”  This tea was reported to promote clear communication with our inner self, exactly what I needed! The Wellness Guide explained that the tea ceremony involved inhaling the aroma, before tasting the tea, and encouraged us to share an authentic wellness intention that we wanted to incorporate into our daily lives.

The tea ceremony was a perfect ending to an adventurous day in self-exploration and holistic wellness.  My guide was an inspirational and enthusiastic yoga instructor who did a wonderful job guiding me through the city and sharing all that Asheville has to offer.

When the tour finished, we parted ways, and I decided to explore the streets of Asheville on my own.  Quite unexpectedly, I came across an interesting young man sitting on the street writing poetry.

Ben was plucking away on his vintage typewriter.  A sign, “NAME A WORD or TOPIC.  GET A POEM”, hung from his table. Being a creative writer myself, I couldn’t resist. I contemplated what word to select, and finally decided on the word “therapy.”

Ben sat in silence for a few moments, and then inserted a piece of paper into his old typewriter and began typing.  Once in awhile, he would stop to ponder, rubbing his head in contemplation. Ben was oblivious to the ongoing foot traffic of people that were walking past him as he pounded away on his typewriter, lost in a world of words.  After about 10 minutes, Ben completed my poem and asked if he could read, “Therapy” to me.

I was amazed at how insightful and creative the poem was, especially considering that it had been written on the spot. Ben’s poem touched upon the heaviness we can carry in life, referring to our emotional pains, and “to unpack the boxes long locked-up.” (poem below)

After reading my poem, Ben told me that he had been in San Francisco years ago, and had traded a book for a Lynn Gentry poem. Ben was busking for his upcoming wedding, which explained another sign he had, “Wedding Funds”.  I thanked Ben for his creative, insightful poem, and thought how clever he was, using his gifts and talents in a way that inspired other people.

Asheville has a lot to offer in terms of the unique, alternative, or creative. If you’re looking to explore Asheville, check out Asheville Wellness Tours, who offers several options including hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains, followed by Yoga, and if you have a love for words or poetry, don’t forget to look for Ben, who can be found in front of Woolworths, on Haywood Street.

Links:

Asheville Wellness Tours

https://www.ashevillewellnesstours.com

Ben is starting his own upcoming blog:

Strangers Poems Project

 

T H E R A P Y

Sit within a circle

& spin a thread of narrative–

 

we are here to help you

with the heavy lifting—

 

to unpack boxes long locked-up,

to turn & turn each artifact

 

over in our hands, to examine

without judgment each dog-earned page

 

within the books that weigh

so much. trust is a rope ladder

 

which we are still building,

you hold it from the top & choose

 

when it’s to be lowered. but human

help comes with limitations. take

 

the next train west & sit among

the redwoods. five hundred years

 

of listening unmarred by loose lips.

we wait & learn the craft of patience

by example.

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Adventures in Community Service

There are numerous volunteer organizations that we can join, or different ways that we can give back, but how many of us actually give up our time to make a difference?

On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I had the opportunity to do many fun-filled activities including, white water rafting, zip lining above the rainforest canopy, soaking in hot springs, hiking up a volcano and doing yoga.  Costa Rica offered me a lot of new adventures as well as connections to an interesting diverse group of people; but it also offered me a different type of activity, a community service opportunity, that at first I declined to decline.  My immediate thought was that I wanted to have fun and do my own thing, but after some contemplation, I changed my mind.  It was a decision that changed my views about life and the importance of giving back.

My yoga group had been given the opportunity to paint a local’s house in exchange for a homemade Costa Rican meal, made and prepared by the owner of the home. Although I have painted the inside of my own home on several occasions, I had never painted the exterior of a house and immediately felt overwhelmed.

We all piled into a mini van and traveled for miles on rugged dirt covered roads to a nearby village, where we parked outside of our destination, a dilapidated blue house desperately in need of new paint.  We jumped out of the van and covered ourselves with plastic rain coats as we split into groups and started painting different areas of the house.  I chose the side of the house that had a large termite nest on it. The paint was watery, thin and runny.  We painting all day in the moist, humid rain, and even painted around the large termite nest, per instructions of the owner!

At the end of the day, when we had finished painting, the owners invited us in, where they prepared a wonderful, tasty meal of rice and beans, followed by some freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee.  We then heard their personal stories.  The man whose house that we had painted, had been severely injured one day as he walked along the roadside and a large metal rod fell off a passing truck, causing him significant injuries.  Since then, he had been unable to work.  I felt grateful that I was able to help him, a complete stranger in need, who had no health insurance and no means of providing for himself or his family, other than to rely on friends, family and neighbors.

With full bellies and heartfelt goodbye’s, we all piled into the mini van and headed back to our resort, as I sat in contemplation about how I almost turned down this opportunity to help someone in need, and if I had, I would have never had known how gratifying it was to give back to community.

You don’t have to travel to Costa Rica to help someone in need, but you can start right where you are!  Sometimes the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference in someone’s life. There are also many organizations that specialize in specific areas of needs, so whatever your passion is, there is a volunteer group out there waiting for your help.  If you’re not ready to join, then you can give back through random acts of kindness, a smile, a thank you, a kind word…

Be open to giving, you never know how you can change someone’s life or make a difference. It’s a win-win situation!

Life in Kefalonia

I recently found old photos of my first backpacking trip which began in Athens, Greece, and ended in London, England.  Like many new travelers, I was excited and filled with adventure as I traveled through Greece, Italy, Austria, France and England, by foot, ferry and train.

My first memory was of the huge backpack that I struggled to carry.  I remember Athens was hot and crowded as my backpack appeared to grow larger and heavier with each and every step I took.  I found myself throwing shirts, shorts and dresses into city garbage cans along the way, leaving a trail of my identify on the streets of Athens.

I boarded a bus to the coast and then jumped onto a boat to Kefalonia, an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece.  At that time, it was not a tourist destination but an untraveled location, unspoiled with commercialism and tourism.  I immediately fell in love with Kefalonia and the relaxed, laid-back lifestyle.  My days were spent riding a moped around the island exploring the green mountains, and swimming in beautiful azure blue seas. Evenings were spent strolling along the shore, eating at cafe’s and connecting with the locals.

I remember thinking that I had found a paradise, a place where time was irrelevant and life was simple and minimal.  The island created a sense of stillness within me, as I fell in love with the island and its people.  Eventually it was time to pick up my backpack and move on again. The rest of Europe called to be explored, but Kefalonia had settled in my spirit in a an unexpected way.

From Kefalonia I took a ferry to Italy where I traveled by train to Venice and spent a few days on the canals, exploring a completely different world of water, gondolas and Italian food.

The journey continued on to Austria, France, and then eventually a ferry to Dover, England, where I lived for the next twelve years.

Sometimes when we travel, we are so focused on the next destination that we don’t really experience the place or present moment that we are in.  I remember that on the island of Kefalonia, I settled into a lifestyle that I had never known before.  It was a place where body, mind and soul, all felt at peace, and everyday life became meaningful in a way that it hadn’t before.

I still dream of my short life on Kefalonia, and although I haven’t been back in many years, I suspect that its probably changed and has become a popular tourist destination now, but it’s true essence of its beautify and people are still there and will forever be a part of my journey as a new traveler.

Sacred Traveler’s Bucket List

There are travelers, and then there are sacred travelers, which I believe are those of us who have a deep connection to the earth and have a desire to experience it all, the deserts, mountains, oceans and forests of the world.  We hear the call of faraway distant lands and have a love for their landscapes and people.

As a lover of travel, I dream of exploring the world.  Remote places like Zanskar, speak to my soul in a way that only a true traveler would understand.  I imagine standing in the Himalaya’s, on top of the world, eating meals cooked over an open fire and listening to the spiritual chants of the Buddhist monks, as I breath in adventure, spirit, and life, with every breath I take.

I recall a few years ago when I was traveling to southern Texas, I was reading the book, “The Snow Leopard”, by Peter Matthiessen, which was about his adventures in Tibet in 1973.  A man sitting next to me said that he had also read the book and had traveled to Tibet and found it to be a mystical place.  When the flight ended, he turned to me and said, “I hope you get to Tibet.” I remember thinking, yes I need to get there…

The photo above is from my journey to Costa Rica.  Ironically Costa Rica was never a place that called to me, but I ended up going on a yoga retreat and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I hiked up a volcano, zip lined above the rainforest canopy, went white water rafting and swam in volcanic hot springs. This trip brought me back to life after a long and difficult year.

Sacred travelers also find passion in other people’s travel journeys. What’s your story?  What countries are on your travel bucket list? Where have you traveled to and why?  What are some of your favorite countries and travel experiences? Please share!

Soul Motion

A SACRED JOURNEY OF MUSIC, MOVEMENT AND SOUL

Sacred travelers can hear the call of faraway places and distant lands, and we love the experience that international travel brings.  Our senses come alive in the spice markets of Marrakesh, our lungs fill with crisp mountain air in places like Tibet or Zanskar, and our bodies are refreshed in the rainforests of Costa Rica.  As a person who intentionally seeks international travel and beautiful places, I am always planning my next trip.  Quit unexpectedly one day, I found myself not on an outer journey to a remote and exotic land, but instead, on an inner journey of body, mind and spirit.  It was called, “Soul Motion” and Mark Ensweiler was my guide.

Mark has been in the healing arts for over 35 years and has an impressive background as a Board Certified Licensed Chiropractor, Certified Yoga Instructor, and Certified Soul Motion Teacher.  When asked about Soul Motion, Mark said, “I continue to find these wonderful “conscious dance/movement” practices to be an ongoing way to support healing, creativity, (movement & seated) meditation, and inspiration in my own life and it’s a great way to share meaningful time with others as well in a supportive group setting.  Each individual Soul Motion class is complete unto itself and yet there are a wide variety of “practices” that can be experienced in a class and this is the beauty of Soul Motion.”

An average session will last approximately 75 minutes, as Mark skillfully guides you through a variety of music, and at times will instruct you to connect to specific areas of your body.  Most of the journey is freeform, with no talking; an inner journey for you to solely take.  There are no limitations as you follow your breath and let your body move in ways that it needs, as it releases old stagnant energy, aches and pains and every day stressors.  The diversity of music allows you to choose your own movement whether it is slow, standing still, or dancing wildly.  Each piece of music is carefully selected by Mark and includes a mix of international vibes, spiritual tunes and a conscendo of notes that takes you on an inner journey that is uniquely individual and yours alone to take.

Music has been well known to a be a potent healer for people in a variety of ways.  Music soothes the spirit in difficult times, and lifts the spirit in times of celebration.  Movement is also recognized as an important element of healing, and when you combine music and movement, you have a powerful combination for personal expression.

If you are seeking a new experience, want to connect more deeply with yourself, or simply love music and movement, take a trip through Soul Motion.  There is no greater journey, than one to know your authentic self…

Mark is offering an upcoming series, “Soul Motion Movement Meditation”; sessions begin this fall at Dance Dynamics in Plover.

For more information about Mark or Soul Motion, please contact him at:

msensweiler@gmail.com

For more information about Soul Motion, or its creator, Vinn Arjuna Martí contact:

http://soulmotion.com/

 

Hiking the World with Wildland Trekking!

 

I’m very excited to announce that I am now an Ambassador for Wildland Trekking Company!

Someone once said to me, “I could never do group travel.”  I also used to have that same thought, but once I travelled with Wildland Trekking Company, I completely changed my mind.  On my first hiking trip, I met a diverse group of people from all over the world. Together we hiked in remote slot canyons, swam in beautiful tranquil waterfalls, made shadow puppets on the canyon walls under star filled skies, and ate healthy gourmet meals in some of the most beautiful natural settings imaginable.

Wildland Trekking Company offers domestic and global hiking trips to Iceland, Nepal and Peru, with options for several different trip styles including; basecamp, stock/porter and inn-based.  Trips are rated for difficulty levels, offering a hiking experience for people of all ages and abilities.

Wildland Trekking trips are for people who have a love for nature and adventure.  If your looking for a new experience or want to personally explore “Therapeutic Landscapes”, you can’t go wrong with Wildland.  You will have the experience of a lifetime!

https://karoleeblog.com/2017/08/24/therapeutic-landscapes/

For more information about Wildland Trekking check out the link below:

http://mbsy.co/j3WsH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therapeutic Landscapes

Did you know that different geographical locations or landscapes can be spiritually or physically healing? The mountains, forests, oceans, and deserts of the world offer you the opportunity to explore both your interior and exterior worlds.

The next time you travel, tune into the elements.  Each geographical location will have its own energy, its own ecosystem, and its own natural vibration.

These include:

Mountains

Mountains represent strength and stability.  By connecting to mountain energy, we can generate inner strength to withstand emotional and physical problems or barriers.  Mountains remind us to feel centered and grounded.

Mountains can be chipped away at; holes or tunnels can be carved deeply into its core, but they always remain solid.  Mountains are reminders to be strong in body and mind.

Sometimes our problems may appear like mountains, huge obstacles that we can’t get around or over, but with each step, we eventually climb the summit, overcoming personal struggles or difficulties.  Mountains remind us that we can get through the rough terrain, the tough times, and reach our goals.

Deserts

The Desert has been known to be an ancient and sacred place throughout history.  People have been known to go into the desert to find themselves, or to seek a connection with God, spirit or the universe.

The desert offers a stillness that we often struggle to find within.  In the desert, the landscape can seem quite harsh and barren, and where we find we have nowhere else to go, but within.

The desert is a place of emptiness and solitude.  It can represent our feelings of loneliness and isolation, but in the desert, if you listen, you will hear the whispers of the winds who continually blow, forever moving and changing the landscape. If you find yourself in a barren and desolate inner desert, go within, seek connection, and remember that the winds of change will guide you safely out again.

Forests

Forests are magical places that for centuries, people have written stories about mythical creatures that live deep within its foliage.  Forest symbolism represents our unconscious, and getting lost in the forest can represent our own inner search for direction and meaning.

Green plants and trees have been known to heal body, mind, and spirit while reducing daily stressors and tension.  Psychologically, green forests can offset angry and aggressive feelings.  Next time you feel irritable or upset, take a walk in the forest, chances are, by the end of your journey, your anger will subside.

Oceans

The ocean has been a source of healing for centuries.  Salt water replenishes our spirit, while salt air cleanses our lungs.  The sound of waves can induce a meditative state, helping to leave worries and cares behind, while the color blue instills a sense of peace and tranquility.

The ocean is symbolic of life in many cultures. Psychologically, water is symbolic of emotions, often fluid and flowing, changing with the tides, sometimes volatile and sometimes calm and serene.

One of my favorite places is the Gulf of Mexico.  A natural thinker by nature, I find that the expanse of the ocean clears my mind and brings about a sense of clarity and focus.

The next time you plan a trip, think about geographical locations, and let your body, mind, and spirit guide you…