Friday, March 13, 2015

Temples of Transformation: An Interview with Freddy Silva

We’re very excited to welcome Freddy Silva as a tour leader on our “Maya Temples of Transformation with Freddy Silva & Miguel Angel Vergara: Yucatan: Ancient Academy of the Spirit”, December 5 - 13, 2015, journey this year. Freddy is one of the world’s leading researchers of sacred sites, ancient systems of knowledge and the interaction between temples and consciousness. He is also the best-selling author of several books including The Lost Art of Resurrection, First Templar Nation, and The Divine Blueprint. He generously answered a few questions for us about the importance of transformative travel, temple sites, and what participants can expect from this profound journey to the Yucatan.

Kabah chaak mask

KB: How important is it, in your opinion, that we each walk the path of a seeker and undertake a journey of personal transformation, especially in our, as you put it, “discombobulated modern culture”? How will our individual journey impact us, and then the communities and world in which we live? 

Freddy Silva: Simple. You are here as a seeker undertaking a journey of exploration. You incarnate to have an experience of this plane. Therefore your experience and how you handle it shapes you as a soul. That is the sole purpose of incarnation in a nutshell. So, if you follow your self, and your experience is also an example to others, it follows that, by your example others begin to change around you, and from that local change follows the rest of the world. Of course everyone else is also here on a personal journey, which is why the world will never "be saved", nor will it ever be perfect. It is what it is because it is an experimental station for billions of souls, all of them at different levels of evolution.


KB: You have researched many temple sites and power places around the world, what is it about the Yucatan, Mexico that particularly resonates with you?

Freddy Silva: The temples are cleaner and clearer, relatively speaking, to others in Mexico. The pollution that came with human sacrifice is still all over many of the sites. But Yucatan appears to have been largely unscathed, helped by the underlying geology: it is a massive limestone massif, and when water percolates through, it generates an electrical charge, and since all the major rivers of the area are also underground, the energy is cleaned in a more constant and consistent manner. Plus, the sites have tended to be venerated since the Spanish conquest, and so they are kept alive, so to speak.

Our group at Chichen Itza

KB: You use the powerful and quite beautiful image of temples as libraries “etched in stone”. How will you and Miguel help participants to access these stone libraries? Can you speak a little about the process of connecting with these temples? 

Freddy Silva: The first method is to use meditation, where possible, to get out of our heads and connect with the spirit of place. This is always a sensible way to immerse yourself in the subtler level of the ground upon which you stand; the second is to allow people as much quiet time as possible to let them take-in the essence of the sites. These places know you are coming, they can read you, and once an energetic connection is established between a person and a temple then communication automatically follows. But you can only do this when you have found your own space and comfort zone; some people take a minute, some take a week, but eventually a “hit” is made. The more times you return to a site, the easier the communication is established. It's just like learning to drive a car. I can say that much of my work comes to me first from listening to the sites, then forming a relationship of trust, and it never ceases to amaze me just how much information we are given. I actually go into some of these experiences in my second book, The Divine Blueprint.  

Kabah arch

 KB: What are you most looking forward to on this journey?

Freddy Silva: Fresh Tequila. In my line of work it is referred to as “research” :-)

But seriously, I go to be a good teacher, to share the benefit of my experience, and hope what I have to say elevates others on their journey. I also go to be open to learning something new. I was in Peru and Bolivia for the first time last year and I was yet again astonished at just how much new information came to be by being at those sites. There's always some new revelation, and it happens as you're actually talking about a temple. And of course I look forward to making new friends on these trips; some people have come with me on multiple tours and we have been friends for years. 

I really don't see myself as a tour leader or a guy on a pedestal, I like to think of these experiences as an opportunity to be with like-minded people, to in-joy, learn, and have some mischievous fun while we do so. So watch out for a streak of British sarcasm.

Freddy on a past tour

 KB: Is there anything else you’d like to share about this journey? 

Freddy Silva: Yes. Who's staying in Room 205 so I can slip them my bill for extras, like massage?

For more about this culturally-rich and personally transformative journey, and to learn more about our charismatic tour leader, please visit our website.

~ Kim Bridgett

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Divine Love of India - Interview with Michele Labelle

I recently had the pleasure of sitting with Michele Labelle, my dear friend and yoga retreat leader, to discuss one of her favourite subjects - India! Over chai, we explored the topics of spirituality, healing, love, yoga, and Michele’s upcoming Sacred South India Yoga Adventure with Sacred Earth Journeys. Here’s just a fragment of our conversation, which fittingly took place on Valentine’s Day.

Michele doing cobra...with a cobra!

AA: What does India represent to you?

ML: India is like a melting pot. Of course there is the spiritual aspect; that’s what has always attracted me. When I think of India, I think of the colours, I think of the people…and the children’s smiles. When the kids come up to you, you see their soul through their eyes. There’s a rawness there that wakes something up deep, deep inside of me.

And then you have the dichotomy of modernization. The young women in their jeans, the older women in their full traditional dress. And being able to still walk on dirt roads, with the cows and tuk-tuks everywhere. It’s starting to blend the modern with the old. 

India can be a shock to the system for the first-time traveller. What words of wisdom would you give? 

Coming on this journey with us, there is the opportunity to feel safe, to be in a group setting. You sleep in a comfortable bed, and you are fed well. And you know, South Indian food, with all the different coconut curries — every single bite is so delicious! So that security, and having a tour guide who speaks the language, makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

Every single person has their own experience. So wherever you are in life, whatever meditation practices you have or not, whether you have your own spiritual guru or not…India wakes something up in every person I’ve ever met who has a calling to go.

And because I love India so much, I just want to share that love. It’s an invitation, like coming to a movie. It’s a whole different movie than you’ve ever seen in your life. And you’re a player in that movie.

Temple in Mamallapuram

What are some of the things you’re looking forward to on this journey?

One of the wonderful experiences we’ll have is meeting with Chindi Varadarajulu, a chef from Vancouver, and we’ll actually go shopping! Finding the ingredients at the market, preparing the food, and sitting down to have a meal.

The inspiration of this trip in particular is to go Tiruvannamalai to see where Sri Ramana Maharshi lived. When he was 16 years old, he had a near death experience, and it was then that he started looking at the meaning of life. We’re going to go to Mount Arunachala, where he become enlightened. Just after that, there’s the Karthigai Deepam festival; pilgrims walk around the mountain at midnight, and there’s a huge procession.

And the Shore temple in Mamallapuram! We’ll have a real fire ceremony with a priest, to start the trip.

We’re also going to the Meenakshi temple in Madurai, where they have a ritual to take out the Shiva lingam in the morning. It goes to sleep at night; it has its own bed and chamber. It’s the honouring of putting to sleep and waking up the Shiva/Shakti energy within us. 

You know, it’s Valentine’s Day here, so a lot of people wish they could be in a relationship. But this is an opportunity to really be your own Valentine. How can we come back to that inner child, and love that inner child so that we don’t have to depend on anyone else loving us? And when we come to that place of loving ourselves, having an opportunity to meditate and experience Divine Love …there’s no human love that can come close to it.

Mother & Children on temple steps

That Divine Love within isn’t something we can think our way to.

You have to come from within to feel it. The minute we become disconnected, for whatever reason, the breaking in ‘belonging-ness’…we make stuff up. And it might not be on a cognitive level, but it can be on a cellular level.

So the inquiry I’m in is, How can I come to that place of love, of unconditional love, and loving myself with Divine Love? And any time I’ve gone to India - the children bring me qualities of wonder and play. As adults, we’re way too serious. And so, on a trip like this, you have to go with a playful heart, and not take things so seriously. And just be open to this whole new adventure of life.

What would you say to people who are very affected by the poverty and lack in the children of India? I know that you connect very strongly with the children.

It’s an automatic heart connection. I don’t see them as poor; I see them as children. I remember one day on a previous tour, the group was doing their banking and I saw these kids that lived in plastic tents across the street. And they had rags on and head lice and they were dirty, barefoot, hardly any clothes on. And I played hide-and-go-seek with them for half an hour. I had so much fun with these kids. And they were laughing…

Sometimes I think, in North America, we’re more poor than the kids who have nothing in India. Because even though they’re poor, they have community and family that look after each other. I think we’re more love-starved in first world countries than any third world country I’ve ever gone to. And maybe that’s why I love going…because I feel their hearts.

It doesn’t mean that it’s all good; it’s the balance of the yin and the yang, the positive and the negative. There will always be duality. There will always be war. That’s who we are as a human beings — there’s an internal war. Like the universal sign of ohm, you have your tamasic, rajasic, and sattvic qualities. We’re always looking to find that balance.

Practicing yoga on Varkala Beach...with a surprise small guest!

What kind of yoga will you be teaching?

After my very first trip to India, in 2008, I went up to Haridwar, in the Himalayas. I stayed in a hotel that had very simple drawings of the five elements of ether, air, water, fire, and earth, and those pictures just drew me in.

So on this trip, the yoga will be related to all the chakras, in relationship to the inner child and to the five elements. It will be a combination of Hatha, Kundalini, and Restorative yoga. There is nothing I love more than teaching outside, under the stars, with fireflies flying around. And the fragrances of India! The jasmine on the trees, the incense…the reverence.

This all sounds amazing. I want to go! Any final thoughts?

India has a way of accelerating what you need to learn. It might be years before you really understand how India’s made an impact on you, whether it’s mental, physical, or spiritual. Something stays inside of you long after you leave. That’s the gift of going to India.

~Aleya Abdulla

We would love for you to join us on our upcoming Sacred South India Yoga Adventure, from November 15-30, 2015. View our website for more details: Space is limited so register soon!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Top Sacred Journeys for 2015

Whether your yard is still buried deep under snow or those first buds of spring are starting to peek though, February is a perfect month to start your vacation planning.  Here we round up our 2015 sacred journeys: from a writer’s retreat in Ireland to an Ayurveda program in India, we’re sure to have something to nourish your spirit. 

Women's Spiritual Art Journey in Bali with Mooh Hood and Lori Goldberg: A Transformative Travel Gift to Yourself, March 12 - 23, 2015

Women’s Spiritual Art Journey is a rare opportunity to participate with a small group of women to engage with the local Balinese, explore the lush landscapes, pray at the Mother Temple, immerse in the Holy Springs and tap into your creative process and create a daily art journal (no experience needed). You will be travelling with Bali expert Mooh Hood and artist Lori Goldberg on this journey of profound connection and discovery. Read the full journey details on our website.

There are a couple of spots remaining on this life-changing journey – book now to secure your place!

A Spiral Journey into the Heart of Ireland with Phil Cousineau: Explore the Mythology, Arts and Spirituality of the Ancient and Modern Celtic World, September 19 - 30, 2015 (with a Dublin Extension, Sep 30 – Oct 3)

Join writer and filmmaker Phil Cousineau as he leads you on a journey that spirals into the heart and soul of one of the most unique cultures in the world seeking the presence of Ireland’s great trilogy of “myth, poetry and magic” through its incantatory storytelling, hypnotic music, and the sheer beauty of glorious countryside. The journey includes visits to the Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher, Yeats’ Tower, Galway, Croagh Patrick and Donegal Castle as well as the vibrant cities of Belfast and Dublin (extension). With special guest appearances by local writers scholars and cultural leaders, and dedicated time for daily discussions and journal writing, this is a culturally and spiritually rich tour not to be missed. Discover more here.

Heart of the Pachamama with Puma Quispe Singona: A Sacred Journey of Healing, Andean Medicine and Energy Work in Peru, October 2 - 12, 2015

Our journey to Peru this year is focused on healing and happiness. You’ll have an opportunity to work with the powerful yet gentle San Pedro (Wachuma), an ancestral medicine that was used in ceremony thousands of years ago to liberate heavy energy from the emotional and psychological temples. Puma will skillfully guide you through sacred temples, local communities, ceremonies and energy work as you heal and find a profound sense of happiness. Our journey includes visits to Machu Picchu (over 2 days), Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Raqchi and the Uros Islands as well as more places that you can read about on our website.

The Connemara Writer's Retreat with Phil Cousineau: A Seven-Day Writing Retreat in the Wild West of Ireland: A Mythopoetic Approach to Crafting Your Story, October 6 - 13, 2015

Phil Cousineau will combine his popular mythopoetic (literally the making of stories) approach to writing with the nine-stage creative journey model presented in his book, Stoking the Creative Fires. Each participant will have the opportunity for one-on-one consultations with Phil and will be encouraged to spend time developing a manuscript in a safe and invigorating atmosphere rather than critiquing other participant’s work. Over the course of the week you will enjoy the chance to replicate the ideal writing life, which is a dynamic balance between creative solitude and social immersion, and learn how to best present your work in the ever-changing world of publishing. For more about this retreat, including the excursion to Inishbofin Island, please visit our website.

Sacred South India Yoga Adventure with Michele Labelle: A Spiritual Journey to Connect to Your Inner Light, November 15 - 30, 2015

Join meditation and yoga teacher Michelle Labelle on an adventure through South India that promises to awaken all your senses. You’ll visit the sacred temples of Tiruvannamalai, gaze at the exquisite rock carvings in Mamallapuram, and discover the beautiful ancient town of Fort Kochi. Learn to make authentic southern Indian cuisine with Chindi Varadarajulu and participate in the stunning festival of lights, Karthigai Deepam. Daily yoga with Michelle Labelle plus a blissful 3-night stay at the Isha Yoga Center make this the perfect way to visit India while deepening your own yoga practice. Visit our website to read more about this incredible journey.

Maya Temples of Transformation with Freddy Silva & Miguel Angel Vergara: Yucatan: Ancient Academy of the Spirit, December 5 - 13, 2015

Our Mexico journey explores Maya temples and integrates the spiritual and practical aspects of the temple teachings. It is about experiencing the subtle energy of place; the Mysteries teachings of the Maya; the thinking that lay behind temple design; and the experience of the spirit of place that develops that latent god residing within all of us. This journey takes you through the Yucatan, from Ek Balam to Chichen Itza, Uxmal to Mayapan, Labnah to Oxkintok, with tour leaders best-selling author and one of the world’s leading researchers of sacred sites, Freddy Silva, and Maya Master Teacher Miguel Angel Vergara. A journey filled with wisdom, history, sacred culture, meditations, talks and ceremonies. Read more here.

Ayurveda Health & Healing Retreat in India: Panchakarma (PK) Healing Programs for Your Optimum Physical & Spiritual Health, December 20, 2015 - January 30, 2016

We are very excited to be working with Ayurveda expert Jaisri M. Lambert to bring you this unique healing program in Coimbatore, India. You can choose from a 41-day or a 21-day Ayurveda Healing Program, and can also book your spot at the International Ayurveda Conference. The programs take place in the tranquil oasis of the Vaidyagrama Healing Village, and include consultations with the onsite medical team and a range of treatments (including Panchakarma (PK)) intended to deeply cleanse and rejuvenate the body and mind, supporting profound healing. For more about this unique program offering please visit our website.

Full details of all these wonderful journeys can be found on our website.

~ Kim Bridgett/Sacred Earth Journeys