Sunday, July 20, 2014

Top 5 Spiritual Destinations in Turkey

Are you planning a visit to Turkey? Curious to know what the must-see sacred sites are in this beautiful country? Here we take a look at the top 5 – plus a surprise bonus “destination” at the end!

1. House of the Virgin Mary
Located a few kilometres outside of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary is an important shrine for Muslims and Christians alike, and is believed to be the final home of the Virgin Mary. This popular pilgrimage site has a “wishing wall” on the outside for visitors to leave intentions and prayers, a sacred healing spring running under it, and a modest shrine inside the house.

House of the Virgin Mary, Turkey. Photo by CherryX.

2. The Temple of Artemis, Ephesus
According to the old legends, The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was founded by the female warriors known as the Amazons (Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis, III.233). Considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and dedicated to the goddess of the hunt, The Temple and the entire ancient city of Ephesus are some of the greatest pilgrimage sites of antiquity.

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus, Turkey

3. The Oracle at Miletus
In classical antiquity the Oracle was both revered as a voice of god and place of pilgrimage when seeking advice. Well-known for attracting crowds of pilgrims, Miletus was one of the most important cities in the ancient Greek world and the place St. Paul stopped at on his Third Missionary Journey, on his way back to Jerusalem and Didyma (Acts 20:15–38).

Miletus, Turkey

4. Aphrodisias
Dedicated to the ancient Mother Goddess, and then the Greek goddess Aphrodite, Aphrodisias was the site of a magnificent Temple of Aphrodite and the home of a renowned school of marble sculpture. It has been a sacred site since as early as 5,800 B.C., when Neolithic farmers came here to worship the Mother Goddess of fertility and crops.

Temple of Aphrodite, Turkey

5. Mevlana Museum, Konya
In the 1920s Rumi’s mausoleum and dervish lodge were turned into a museum, which has been an important place of pilgrimage ever since. The poet, philosopher, and religious teacher Mevlana Rumi is widely believed to be one of the world’s most important literary and spiritual figures and an embrace and understanding of his works helps us to discover the philosophical concepts of Sufism. While in Konya, and to further deepen your understanding of Sufism, you can see a performance of the Whirling Dervishes.

Mevlana Museum, Turkey

 Bonus “Destination”: You!
As a seeker and traveller you will always bring an extra dimension to all the destinations you visit. When travelling around the culturally-rich sites of Turkey take time to open to the sacred energies and appreciate all this country has to offer.

Have you visited any of these sacred places in Turkey? Would they make your Top 5 list or would you choose others? We’d love to hear from you!

If you’re interested in visiting these sites and more, check out our “A SacredJourney to Turkey with Phil Cousineau: Long Conversations in the Land of Troy, Rumi and the Goddess”, October 10 - 22, 2014.

~ Kim Bridgett & Sacred Earth Journeys


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bali Bliss – A Perfect Yoga Retreat

When I’m looking for a yoga retreat, I look for something that includes high quality yoga practices and a variety of other travel experiences for a truly rounded, memorable vacation. Bali Bliss: A Transformational Yoga & Meditation Retreat in Magical Bali with Michele Labelle, November 9 - 18, 2014, offers so much more than a standard yoga retreat making it the perfect sacred get-away!

Our Retreat Leader and Yoga Teacher is Michele Labelle – a Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher who has been involved in meditation and energy work since 1996. Prior to becoming a yoga teacher, Michele worked as a Respiratory Therapist for 16 years – an experience which gave her a unique view of the breath! Michele will skilfully and compassionately guide us in morning hatha yoga and meditation practices as well as an evening sunset practice. The yoga practices are suitable for beginners and more advanced students.

This yoga retreat offers every opportunity to explore beautiful Bali. We will spend time close to the cultural and artistic Balinese village of Ubud and the sacred Monkey Forest as well as time in the quiet, largely tourist-free northwest, an area with nature and marine parks, coconut groves and beautiful ancient temples dotting the landscape. We will go snorkelling, bike through magical rice paddy fields and explore the rich flora and fauna of the Bali Barat National Park.

Cultural Immersion
We will share a unique and profound cultural and spiritual experience on this Bali Bliss Retreat – a visit to the local village of Pacut to learn more about daily life in Bali. Pacut is the home village of our Balinese retreat co-leader Artayasa, who is also a village master, responsible for organizing cultural events and co-ordinating tourist visits here. We will stop by an elementary school, weave coconut leaves for a hat and temple offering, witness traditional farming activities, and gather with the local musicians to play gamelan Angklung (Balinese orchestra).

As well as our daily yoga practices we can enjoy a variety of fun activities on this Retreat. Try snorkelling the best sites in Bali off Menjangan Island, swimming past colourful coral reefs, stunning gorgonian sea fans, turtles and an array of fish. Or, try walking through an abundant forest of rambutans to reach the 30-metre-high Les Waterfall for a natural water massage.

Spiritual Excursions
92% of the population of Bali practices Balinese Hinduism and the Balinese culture is an expression of devotion. We will experience daily devotional offerings everywhere and special prayers are said several times a day. We will visit sacred temples while in Bali, including Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the most sacred traditional temples, spectacularly set at the top of a steep cliff with breathtaking views over the surf below, Ulun Danu Temple, an important Hindu and Buddhist water temple, and the Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery.

This balanced yoga retreat offers an amazing opportunity to work on your own spiritual journey in sublime surroundings with a wealth of activities and excursions to enjoy.  The traditional greeting in Bali is, “Om Swasti Astu”, an honouring of the heart and spirit, and we hope you’ll be hearing it very soon.

Visit our website to read more about our BaliBliss Retreat with Michele Labelle.

~ Kim Bridgett


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Looking for Vacation Inspiration in 2014?

Our handy quiz helps you plan your perfect journey!

Choosing a vacation destination can be tricky, and choosing the perfect package to suit your unique needs even harder. We all want our vacations to be meaningful, memorable and, well, magical – but how do we pick the perfect spot?

Choose a package that’s aligned with your values.
What is it that really matters to you? What makes your soul sing and makes you feel completely at one with yourself? If you can identify your core values you can translate those to your vacation package…

Ask yourself these 3 fun questions to help you find what’s right for you:

1. When do you feel most happy?
  • a.     During a new & exciting activity
  • b.     On my yoga mat
  • c.      Hiking in nature
  • d.     Reading or learning about a new culture

2. Your perfect birthday gift would be:
  • a.     A new surfboard or bike (or similar piece of gear)
  • b.     Handmade coconut oil moisturizer with essential oils
  • c.      A new camera
  • d.     A gift certificate for your favourite bookstore

3. Your favourite clothes store is:
  • a.     MEC
  • b.     Lululemon
  • c.      Etsy
  • d.     The whole world is my clothes store!

If you answered mainly:

A vacation with fun and challenging activities would suit you! The perfect package would include yoga or similar stretching exercises to keep your body and mind in balance and your adrenal system healthy! Ensure the meals are nourishing and wholesome too as you’ll be burning lots of calories!

Try this:
Practice, Breathe and Surf Costa Rica with Chris Duggan & Natalie Rousseau: A seven-day adventure and yoga retreat in idyllic Mal Pais, Costa Rica
November 22 - 29, 2014

Package highlights:
  • Twice-daily yoga classes
  • A choice of 3 included activities + many more as optional extras
  • Choose activities such as surfing/SUP, horseback riding, zip lining canopy tour, 4WD tour
  • Optional spa services to relax your muscles!
  • 3 delicious & healthy meals a day

A vacation with  a combination of physical exercise and opportunities to explore local communities and sites would suit you to a tee! Stops along the way to mingle with locals and explore artisan crafts would be a bonus. Look out for packages that offer more than yoga – meditation, health consultations, time for outdoor activities or spa services will provide a more fulfilling holiday experience!

Try this:
Bali Bliss Retreat with Michele Labelle: A Transformational Yoga & Meditation Retreat in Magical Bali
November 3 - 12, 2014

Package highlights:
  • 7 yoga classes and meditation practice
  • Visits to Uluwatu Temple, Ulun Danu Temple and Brahma Vihara Arama Buddhist Monastery
  • Cultural Immersion & Homemade Lunch at Pacut Village
  • Snorkelling Excursion to Menjangan Island
  • Optional Excursions and Spa Treatments 

You need a vacation package that understands and honours your connection to the natural world. A package that provides opportunities to spend time alone or as part of a group at some of the world’s natural, sacred sites would be a great choice! Look for packages that allow you time to explore independently and really breathe in your surroundings. Also look out for holidays that include visits to local communities and artisan craft markets for gifts to bring back home.

Try this:
Heart of the Pachamama with Puma Quispe Singona: Celebrate the Transformative Energy of the Spring Equinox in Sacred Peru
September 17 - 24, 2014

Package highlights:
  • Entrance to Machu Picchu for TWO DAYS
  • Travel with Andean Medicine Man, Healer and Wisdom Keeper, Puma Quispe Singona
  • Visits to Sacred Sites and Temples
  • Authentic Community Immersion
  • Special Spring Equinox Ceremony

OR this:
Sacred Path Of Quetzalcoatl-Kukuulkaan with Miguel Angel Vergara: A Journey to Discover Your Potential in the Land of the Toltec & Maya (Mexico)
December 1 - 9, 2014

Package highlights:
  • Travel with author and Maya Master Teacher, Miguel Angel Vergara
  • Participate in meditations, rituals and ceremonies at the sacred sites
  • Lectures by Miguel Angel Vergara to illuminate the significance of the sacred sites we visit
  • Visit the Museo Nacional de Antropolog√≠a in Mexico City
  • Learn how chocolate is made at the Ecomuseo del Cacao near Labna

You need a vacation package that speaks to your creativity and thirst for knowledge. Look for holidays that include opportunities to engage in creative pursuits, ideally with a skilled tour leader who shares your passion for the written word. Journeys to countries and sites of historical and cultural significance will appeal, as will trips that depart from the usual tourist trails and allow you to more fully understand the culture of a country.

Try this:
A Sacred Journey to Turkey with Phil Cousineau: Long Conversations in the Land of Troy, Rumi and the Goddess
October 10 - 22, 2014

Package highlights:
  • Travel with author, presenter and scholar Phil Cousineau
  • Daily engaging and enlightening Conversations with Phil
  • Guest talk by Bedri Baykim, renowned Turkish artist, residing in Istanbul
  • Private Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Konya
  • Exceptional visits to some of Turkey’s most famous and sacred sites

OR this:
The Heart of Ancient Greece: An Odyssey with Phil Cousineau: The Myths, Heroes, Gods and Goddesses, and Sacred Sites of the Classical World
September 21 - October 1, 2014

Package highlights:
  • Travel with author, teacher and filmmaker, Phil Cousineau
  • Insightful Group Discussions and “Long Conversations”
  • Visit the Acropolis, Parthenon & Theatre of Dionysus
  • Visit the Site of the Ancient Olympics and the Olympic Museum
  • Visit the Dream Temples of Asclepius & the Ancient Amphitheater in Epidaurus

A complete mix of As, Bs, Cs & Ds:
Visit Sacred Earth Journeys to read about all of our vacation destinations and packages to suit you! We also take bookings for yoga retreats in Canada and beyond, and are sure to have something to suit your unique needs! Or contact us to organize a group vacation package for your family, friends or business and let us show you how to translate your values into a perfect holiday!

Bon voyage!

~ Kim Bridgett