3 Steps to Nirvana

September 10, 2012

Strolling across countless Tuscan piazzas from Florence to Siena to Pisa to Lucca, Italy, one cannot help but see the birthplace of the Slow Movement with Slow Eyes. The three-hour siestas, the wine, pasta and beautiful shops are breath-taking. Around every corner is a new sensation in which to immerse yourself. Even the air tastes good in Italy, at least in Tuscany where we spent six glorious days with the top down in our two-seater, pretending we lived there without a care in the world.

Nirvana under the Tuscan Sun

Perhaps it is the sea that tightly hugs both coasts that brushes away the soot and smell of modern life. Or perhaps it is the sun that kisses your face in relentless delight. Your skin absorbs the light, entering your heart in a constant wave of glowing warmth.

Can you tell that I’ve fallen in love?

Yes, Italy is an amazing place. For the past two weeks that I’ve been on vacation, I have experienced the world with immeasurable delight. As a writer, I must live in order to feed my creative source. So it was my mission to live life to the fullest and report back to you on what I found.

And what I found was Nirvana.

It started in Paris where I began my Slow travel. The city cast a spell on me as I wandered about the cobblestone streets, practicing my French and remaining in constant awe at the grace and refined, yet celebratory nature of the people there. Whoever says the French are arrogant are simply wrong. They know how to live…and eat. Three-hour lunches? Absolutely!

I realize now that anyone can experience Nirvana at any given moment (a beautiful setting helps expedite the process, of course!). It takes practice to get there, but it is possible. In my view, there are three essential steps one must take to reach that place.

1. Harmony

One must first enter a harmonious space. It starts with our thinking about things. If we are in conflict over something, harmony is hard to find. When we adapt our thinking to embrace change, challenges and upsets, we enter a state of Flow. Flow leads to better decisions, which leads to better action, which leads to more Flow.

See what I mean? Harmony is a habit based on your thinking about, then reactions to, the things that happen.

2. Bliss

Bliss is the next step. Once we have reached a level of harmony in our every day lives, we are open to the sheer joy of being without conflict. Everything passes through us without judgement or scrutiny. We reach an inner peace that passes thinking to a true state of beingness. Our brains are still operating, but our emotions have been disengaged from their dependency on external circumstances.

This state is Flow to the nth degree.

3. Nirvana

Also known as Enlightenment, this stage is pure Heaven. Everything is in alignment with everything else. There is nothing to do, want or even be. You are in complete Oneness with All That Is.

Getting to Nirvana is a highly personal experience, but it is a journey worth taking. We all have our own path with many bumps, twists and curves in the road. Slow Travel helps get us there if we are willing to take on the world with a different set of glasses.

And who knows? Your Nirvana might co-mingle with someone else’s. Imagine the fun that would be!

 

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Soul Trippin’

August 8, 2012

Travel can unleash the soul, especially if you go to a place you’ve been before in another lifetime.

And so it was for me in France this weekend.

French was the first foreign language I ever heard at the tender age of six. It was a gateway to a new world that I have yearned to explore ever since.

Flashback a year ago when my daughter sat, tear-filled and sad, that she felt unprepared for her final French exam. To encourage her, I promised her a trip to Paris if she studied hard the following year.

She did. And we flew on Saturday to the city of love. I spent four days in a state of breathlessness and beauty. As I stood in the wind on the grounds of Versailles, it was as if I was visiting an ancient part of myself. My soul literally danced.

Eiffel TowerIf you have ever experienced a sense of déjà vu, it’s your soul’s radar picking up on a memory embedded deep within. The feeling I had in France was stronger than that sense of familiarity. It was as if I had lived there before. The feeling got stronger as we drove through the country’s largest forest.

I’ve always loved the woods.

A French colleague of mine warned me about the unfriendly Parisians. I only met the nice ones. Perhaps it was because they took pity on me as I struggled to speak French…or maybe it was their appreciation that I tried. A universal truth states that the world is your mirror. What you put into it is pretty much what comes back out.

Intuitive travel is a great opportunity to take a soul trip. If you get a sense to go somewhere for no apparent reason, do it. It’s your spirit talking. Listen. Explore. Be. And do it fearlessly.

It’s slow travel at its best.