Something greater than yourself
"Travelling broadens the mind" as the saying goes, a cliché perhaps but it is very true. I think in this high speed world where we are bombarded with information and mental stimulation 24/7 we become very reactive and less reflective. It's all about meeting our immediate needs and dealing with immediate distractions. So it is hard to notice and connect to the deeper aspects of our existence, to the big picture.
But travelling gives us permission to let go and open up. It heightens our awareness and awakens the senses. And as we gradually expand outwards we often attract profound spiritual experiences.
One such moment was in Alaska looking at the Worthington Glacier, a valley glacier in the Chugach mountains. It was unusual in that it was quite close to the road and you could walk right up to it and literally reach out to touch it. As I approached this massive wall of ice it was as if time and space ceased to exist, it was totally awe-inspiring. On one side of the glacier was a high, flat rock face, which had a cascading sheet of water flowing over it into a narrow stone gorge. The water then hurled down towards a lake.
The roar of the waterfall, the spray of ice cold water on my face, the magnificence of the wall of ice against a clear blue sky, all this created an intense multi-sensory experience. There was no sense of me, of the individual, of separateness. Simply this vastness with which I felt a part. I could have stood there forever, just being. A feeling of completeness and reassurance that brought such joy - the joy of knowing that I am connected to this wonderful thing that is something-greater-than-myself.
Mother Nature offers us these "windows", called epiphanies (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance"), everywhere - all we have to do is be receptive. However, it’s not just “out there”, it’s also “in here”. We can find this joyful connection with something greater through meditation. The ancient yogic scriptures describe a state called samadhi,an intensely joyful feeling of union with the great Oneness that can be achieved after years of deep meditation practice.
So wherever you find yourself, there are opportunities for spiritual awakening and exploration. But you don't have to wait until you travel – something as simple as lying on your back watching the clouds change shapes could offer you an unexpected “view”.