The Iceland Roadtrip Extravaganza

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The land of fire and ice!

This is my un-definitive guide to Iceland by car in early summer. Do you have a layover, a couple friends, and a drivers license? Then get your cameras and faces ready for some jaw dropping scenery in the most beautiful place on the planet. Finally returning after two years, this time I am armed with two best friends, an upgraded rental, and a mind blowing itinerary. Iceland isn’t so hard to figure out as there is basically one road, budget shopping (bonus supermarkets), and everything else is on the Internet (from accommodations to itineraries). Therefore this is a quick and dirty guide to hitting and quitting Iceland from my recent perspective to highlight some of the better hidden gems and to show off the beautiful scenery in photos.

Bring waterproof and warm clothing as the weather is unpredictable, accommodation is 30-40 a night, spend a few more dollars on a bigger car while getting a good deal, and pack lots of picnics.

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Reykjavik Area

The capital is colorful, slightly expensive, and a fun time. After doing the few local landmarks such as the church and Viking sculpture either prepare for a long first day or go out and meet some locals. They are very friendly and often invite you home.

Secret hot spring alert: Grotta Hot Pot
20130909-093603.jpgA cute little puddle of a hot spring. Super tiny, but I managed to fit with two people. It feels funny being in such a small space, but the view is huge. Locals even patted me on the back for stripping down in the cold weather.

 

 

First day!
This is the big one. Get some sleep unless you are a train wreck of awesomeness like my buddy Shane and stay out all night with locals in Reykjavik.

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Glymur
Now Iceland’s second tallest waterfall and a small adventure in itself. Strolling up the beautiful canyon you get to descend trough a tiny cave and cross a river before hiking up to the lookout point. A great place to hit first thing in the morning and even spend half a day doing the whole loop around the lake at the top.

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Secret hot spring: Geothermal Hot Tub
This one was given to me by a local and it is obscure. You can drive there easy enough and with a short walk arrive, but it is hit or miss. The water is bubbling out of the earth no doubt, but it requires the piping to be working to fill the tub. On my first visit it was great, on the second the pipes were not in order, so a bust. The scenery is worth the trip and if you can soak, all the better.

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The Golden Circle
This is the must see highlight from Reykjavik, whether you take the tour for 1 day or rent a car. It includes the double waterfall Gullfoss, the timely Geyser, and Thingvellir national park where the tectonic plates are separating. There is amazing history as well as shopping.

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Hotspring alert: Gamle Laugin in Flúðir
1546237_10100367912517451_124478647799574574_nNot so secret but definitely hidden and also not free. You can tour the site which is quite beautiful and see more bubbling water and bright pools coming out of the earth without paying to soak. 20$ to soak

 

 

 

Attraction alert: Flúðir
Tour one of Iceland’s tomato hothouses and enjoy some culture and delicious tomato soup and sandwiches.

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Continuing on because you are gung-ho adventurers, we head south to the coast on our way to Vik for our wonderful Kosy beds.

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Seljalandsfoss
Staring at you right off the main road is this spectacular waterfall. It’s loud, it’s wet, you can walk behind it! The mist is what gets you so wrap up in your waterproof gear. Time this for sunset or sunrise and you are going to get spectacular photos. Actually if the sun is shining at all you will be blown away.

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Vik
You are welcome to find other nearby accommodations or booking well in advance you can stay at the lovely Kosy Vik. A renovated 100 year old hospital with two modern and comfortable rooms in the bottom floor and a wonderfully helpful host. You will be receiving a special Icelandic culinary experience here generally so be prepared. (It’s the classic fermented shark and brennivins shot, bottoms up!)

The sun doesn’t really go down so if you wandered around the small town or black sand beach you could enjoy some unwinding time. You might also have spent three days getting this much excitement into your schedule and you will be rewarded tomorrow again.

Southern Iceland Area

We start our day off by backtracking actually. If you find different accommodation then you can save some driving.

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Black sand beaches of Vik
Located right around the corner is black beach. From the black sand to the unique lava rock hexagonal formations, a trip to this beach is a must. Memory making photo sessions are a quick jot from the parking lot. Easily the best beach we visited.

Dyrholaey
Just further up the coast from black beach. Known for its unique elephant shaped rock formation and the many puffins. it’s a wonderful place to visit for various reasons or a picnic spot.

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Myrdalsjokill Glacier
Going back further still is the Myrdalsjokill Glacier. You can play around its outskirts, hire a guide and gear, or bring your own ice cleats and take a stroll. This glacier can also be hiked over with a visit to Eyjafjallajökull from the next location (although I did not personally accomplish this, just some friends of mine).

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Skogafoss
imageThis wide waterfall is a beauty. With stairs to the top and an impressive view this is also a great place to picnic. Make sure to stop halfway up and visit the fuzzy trolls. You can also start or end a 2-3 day hike into Iceland crossing over the earlier glacier and visiting the peak of Eyjafjallajökull volcano. You also get to scope or hike through landmanlagur which is certainly off the beaten track and mesmerizing.

 

Crashed DC-3 plane
Have an extra hour? Drive down to a crashed DC-3 and make up your own stories for friends at home. You don’t need a 4×4 to reach here, just some good eye sight to spot the entrance sign which is tiny. Drive slowly and stay in the markers and you will be fine.

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Hot spring alert: Seljavallalaug
10733985_10100367913161161_3354805201119078631_nThe pool at the end of the canyon is easily accessible and frequented by many locals and travelers. The water isn’t very hot except by the vent so be aware of this. The scenery is beautiful and the changing rooms are messy, but at least there are rooms to change in. The hike is fun even if you don’t take a dip.

 

 

 

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Our second and very friendly hitchhiker is on the right.

These attractions are some of the most enjoyable of Iceland so take your time in the area before flying off east into your adventure with a hitchhiker towards skaftafell.

Skaftafell Area
Visit another glacier and svartifoss waterfall which is the inspiration for the Reykjavik church.

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Jokulsarlon Lagoon
Scoot over to the most amazing spot in all of Iceland and a personal item on my bucket list Jokulsarlon Lagoon. Ive always wanted to see icebergs on a black sand beach with the waves coming in and out. I was not disappointed nor will you be. Take some time for photographs.

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Although it is quaint, this is the chicken coop, not the guest house.

Spend the night at the quaint farmhouse Stafafell. Lovely sheep and a small cemetery compliment the large kitchen and many couches of this guesthouse. It was a nice place to rest after such a long day.

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Eastern Iceland!
Despite the amazing scenery from the car and the many fjords, I didn’t see much else in the east worth mentioning. I know there is much more, but southern Iceland seems positively packed comparatively.

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Hengifoss
The third highest waterfall in Iceland and walking up to it feels like walking through a fairy glade. Best when the sun is out, the red rock formations from the Iron cooling in hot magma are impressive.

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Seydisfjordur
This was certainly the highlight of eastern Iceland. Driving over the snow line and down into a beautiful fjord was breathtaking. Spend the evening in this quaint town and book a room at Nordursild (north marina) Guesthouse. The rooms are smaller but clean and incredibly comfortable. The main room of this old converted dock house is full of spectacular nautical furniture and artifacts.

Northern Iceland!
It snowed on us! Driving over the black wastelands of north eastern Iceland the winds picked up and so did the weather. We arrived at a geothermal plant with bubbling gasses spewing from the earth where just yesterday there was a lake, there is now ice skating. We were freezing so much we had to move on quickly.

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Haverarond mud pits
Just across the road literally from the geothermal plant is this wonderful place that looks like mars. Bubbling mud, white hot steam, tourists walking around. Whats not to love?

Myvatn
This is a must stop on the road trip. The lake is absolutely beautiful whether you camp out here or just take a picnic. The only accommodation that was available for us was a nice little room at a working farm just past the lake: Guesthouse Stöng. Beautiful property, they serve their own homemade meats and salamis for breakfast, and have hot tubs to use.

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There are so many things to do around the lake just take a look (Hverfjall hike for instance), but not to be missed is Grjótagjá. This underground hot spring grotto is mesmerizing and beautiful. There is a wonderful splitting of the earth here you can walk along, and if you ignore the signs and go to the little cave next door (to the left), you can get away with some bathing.

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Myvatn Nature Baths
The blue lagoon of the north! Spend a few hours in this milky blue hot spring and watch the weather move across the landscape. Rejuvenating waters and saunas for the weary traveler. By this point you certainly need a break as too much driving and beauty can wear you out.
*Pro tip: Tell them you are a student and save 10$, they dont check either way we noticed.

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Dettifoss
We back tracked due to weather, trying to land a good time at Europe’s most powerful waterfall, dettifoss. There are two roads to get there, east and west. West certainly has a better view and walking around, but if you are going north then the road might not be open all the way and you will have to drive a long way around up the east road. Check first with the government website. We ended up driving on both, but it was still worth the drive.

Akureyri
The beautiful city of the north. After driving around beautiful stretches of the north coast we arrived in town and found a room at the backpackers hostel because they are in the middle of downtown (which happens to be one short road in length) and because we were hoping to land a couchsurfing host (which worked out the next day). The houses are quaint and worth a few hours of walking around, and the nightlife is bubbly since the sun is up all night. We couldn’t find any locals to tell us what fun there was other than drinking and winter sports, so we did just that.

Here we had to say goodbye to our outrageous friend J’Lynn at the little airport. The laughs were wonderful.

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Hot spring alert: Grettislaug
The hot springs of legend! This is worth the drive to visit. Two quaint and surprisingly hot hot springs are well maintained. With rising mountains and the black sea for a view, this was the highlight of our last day. We jumped into the freezing north sea a few times, building up to 10 seconds and then went to warm up in the pools. Our version of the polar plunge.

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Snaefellsnes peninsula
I may have been a little over zealous for our last day, driving from Akureyri to Reykjavik, but we spent an extra day in the north so this is what was left to us. I wanted to see Snaefellsnes peninsula for its beauty and a particular photo opportunity. However it was rainy and overcast. Even still it was beautiful. We crossed a mountain obscured in cloud and couldn’t see 5 feet in front of us. For the adventurer with more time, grab the Snaefellsnes map from the tourist office and visit some black beaches and small towns, I would make this a priority visit on my next tour.

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We got back to Reykjavik in the evening and spent some time in a cafe bar with locals. It was the eve of summer solstice and the city was alive with revelers. We enjoyed the mayhem in the streets till late and then made our way to the airport for an early departure. No damage to the rental and with a huge sigh relaxed into a comfortable seat at the airport. We could have slept, but as our adventures were about to go in different directions we spent the time with each other, and all the beauty of Iceland. Its amazing to think that by the end we could barely enjoy one more perfect waterfall, or another picturesque mountain. It just goes to show Iceland can be too much of a good thing for one visit, so plan a second trip, you wont be disappointed.

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Travel and friends in Europe

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The call of adventure springs upon me again. Heading to Europe for what was going to be a week road trip around Iceland has turned once again into a friend visiting escapade. The joke in Europe is to invite people in neighboring countries to visit because it is so close, but they never come because the distance is too far. Well in the states, an 8 hour drive is a small road trip and with Iceland only a few hours flight away, I accept a friends polite invitation to Germany. Word gets out quick and friends in Paris and Ibiza soon find destinations on my itinerary while only missing an extra trip to London. A fresh reminder of enjoying friends and food and adventure.
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imageSunny and vibrantly green southern Germany is my first destination. Lahmo and Abhivan, dear path of love friends from India, invite me to share their beautiful life in Lindau. Amazing musicians and artisans as well as meditators, my arrival ends up starting a mini vacation from work and enjoying each day by the lake. Lindau is a small island of tourist envy, enjoyed for its history and lake views. Escaping WW2 bombing completely for aiding Switzerland in food delivery, Lindau is architecturally stunning with a vibrant waterfront. We spend our days with local friends playing music, picnicking, light sports, swimming, and playing with the children.
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I get to visit Austria and Abhivans cabin, see a sailboat race, dance wildly in public and practice tai chi. I saw many beautiful green spaces, the view from the mountains, ate cheese spaetzle, saw a hand of God sunset, and tried to change social stereotypes by getting Germans to dance in the street to the live music being played. It was a beautiful week of enjoying the outdoors, conversations with people I love, and a remembrance of how simple and enjoyable life can be settled down in one place.
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I fly off into the midnight sun, Venus and Jupiter glowing brightly out of my window seat, to enjoy a night layover in Oslo. I am heading to Iceland to participate in an impromptu road trip. After having visited Iceland at the beginning of my world tour I vowed to return to the most beautiful place on earth and do it right. Shane, my long time roommate and fellow world traveler is starting his 1 year around the world tour and Iceland is the kick off. Once declared he was going, our friend Jlynn jumped aboard, and in similar fashion to our south east Asia travels I had to attend as this would be a major reunion. Oh twist my arm universe, lets do Iceland!
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Arriving to a radically colder environment I get my layers on and adjust to the beautiful landscape. Rolling up in the rental from a visit to blue lagoon my friends scoop me, hugs and hellos and land ourselves in Reykjavik. We are relying on my expert travel skills and knowledge of Iceland to get us by. It serves us perfectly and helps Shane learn the ropes of traveling in this day and age of smart phones and wifi. We settle in, take a small tour and prepare for our early morning hike by having drastically different adventures. Jlynn and myself retire early and end up making friends with our hostel mates receiving free wine, while in true Shane style he parties all night with local friendly Icelanders. Arriving just in time for a short nap before we head out for our longest day of exploring Iceland.
imageTouring Iceland by car is the only way to really see it. Everything is conveniently off the one ring road that circles the island and breathtaking views come right to you. Every 10 minutes the landscape somehow changes drastically from mossy rocks, to shrubs, black sand beaches and grassy sheep farms, to volcanic steam, all dotted with more waterfalls than you can shake a stick at. Bring extra space for all the photos you will take, being overwhelmed by so much beauty.
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We find moderately priced but memorable accommodations along the way. Sleeping in a 100 year old hospital, two farm houses, a marina warehouse, and a couchsurfer to boot; everything was cozy and inviting. Seeing as the sun never sets, you get a sundip rather than a sunset, your body always wants to be awake. Many late nights were had wandering the twilight hours of Iceland playing guitar and meeting locals.
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Some highlights of Iceland, to be explained fully in its own post, were to walk on my first glacier, visit a crashed airplane from WW2, hot spring cave, volcanic Mars landscape, snow capped fjords, waterfalls you can walk behind, eating fermented shark, picking up hitch hikers, many hot spring baths, jumping into the North Sea, and the many jokes and antics of spending days driving around with best friends rocking to music.
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Iceland was an overwhelmingly beautiful spectacle shared with dear friends and new ones. A good reminder that traveling with friends is hilariously fun and vastly different than traveling alone. Playing off each persons unique personalities and energies creates a new dynamic environment that being with only yourself cannot possibly experience. I am happy for that and all the laughter.
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One long day of driving and fly off to Paris, which seems to now be my old stomping grounds and most comfortable city for me to visit. I know the ropes and speak enough French to sail easily into the heart of this beautiful city and meet up with Robin. He is figuring out professional life of an international lawyer living in Paris. Long hours but delicious food and a city that seems different from the time spent in school here.
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I readjust to the perfect weather and stroll around these familiar streets eating familiar foods. It’s like being at home in many ways. I’ve been to Paris now perhaps 10 different times and know what I want to see and eat with the little time I have. I enjoy my time with Robin catching up and sharing our lives and art. Pastries and walks and poetry is how one absorbs Paris in pieces.
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We thankfully are in Paris for summer solstice which means that everyone comes out to play music to celebrate summer. It seems on every corner there are buskers and performance groups. From marching bands to ethnic song and dance you can barely turn a corner without some new cacophony assaulting your ears. We dance to soul gospel and Brazilian, teenage bands and accordion players, and finish with a major performance by Ibrahim maalouf the trumpet player and his band. Mind blown with the amount of energy and big band music he brought to the palais royal.
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That was a pretty great farewell party as I head to Ibiza Spain. The world famous island for electronic music and parties, as well as a collection of meditative and conscious people living in the north of the island. It is in the more laid back and less drunk group that I find my friends Adam and Kim, also path of love friends, who open their home and life to me. Beautiful blue waters and sandy beaches greet me in this Spanish countryside of purple flowers and white washed walls.
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Adam is my dear soul brother from PoL and spending any time with him is like looking at myself in the mirror. We share on all topics of the heart while enjoying the never ending sun and sea of Ibiza. The atmosphere is light and jovial with people enjoying themselves and the idea of siesta has never been more real to me in the mid day heat.
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We enjoy local paella, the hippie markets, and a wonderful night of ecstatic dance. Walking around for long strolls in the perfect evening weather, life is well rounded and easy going. I suppose I could enjoy myself in these easy days of friends and ocean play. Not sure what I would do with my time that is of much importance to me but a beautiful place to visit. Adam and I share our connection and love in many ways and remind ourselves of the beauty of the world and our connection with Osho.
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We share a special connection in this world of being of the same soul stuff. I say this because never before have either one of us found someone who is exactly like our inner selves. This boggles my mind as we think and experience the world in the same way. Never before have I so truly seen two people cut from the same cloth. For this reason we share and connect on a special level that makes us brothers in every sense that matters.
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Flying out of Barcelona, there is one last gift for me. My dear friend Tate and Ashley happen to be in the airport, in my very wing, at the exact same time on their way to China. We have enough time for hugs and photos before flying off in different directions. I am heading back to the states for an unknown adventure and they are off to the orient. Florida and family here I come.

  

Path of Love: PachaMama

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Welcome to the jungle!

 

Wild beasts, strange noises, burning heat, lethargy, fear, exploration of the unknown, sweat, tears, and breakthroughs. Yes I am talking about the inner landscape of the mind, which is strikingly similar to this beautiful Costa Rican backdrop. Another group of hungry seekers have descended upon PachaMama, an intentional spiritual community, to participate in The Path of Love. I have left the Asian tropics for the Central American tropics to staff this process and remind myself of the love and beautiful essence I carry in myself. Barely having time to integrate all the realizations I carry from my process in January, I am jumping into a strong remembering of the truth I hold so dear.
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Having gotten a little lost in Bali and wishing to return to the truth of my essence, without the minds filtering and lies and masks, I have come to Costa Rica to touch that space again. I carry this truth with me, along with the presence of my ego, which seems to have grown several sizes since my PoL. It hasn’t really grown any bigger, just my awareness of its true size has become apparent. This is my challenge and my mastery: To overcome this harshest of critics and live my life from a place of love and gratitude. At times this takes an extreme physical effort to realize that not listening to the lies of the ego and comfortable habit patterns is the only way to continue moving forward and to inhabit all the beautiful joys of my life. Only this one barrier is left and could be with me in its many ways and forms and subtleties, quite possibly my whole life. I wish to find pleasure in not feeding my ego any more attention and to begin mastering the expansion of my life. This means facing my fears each day, being proactive rather than reactive, no excuses for laziness, and to find the passion for my life each day no matter how I feel or what I think. Choosing to move forward despite every anxiety and fear is the only choice that can heal this wound we all carry.
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*Our beautiful group room & a sample of our vegan diet

 

Having the loving support of PoL members in which to share and deepen your search is the gift of being a staff or participant. The daily reminder of connecting and growing with a beautiful support system helps master the egos presence, which opens the space to find the courage to live your life according to your truth. Often times this very simple issue gets glossed over by the ego and the small truths that should be spoken are left silent. The compliments you wish to give, the hurts you wish to acknowledge, the small risks you could take, and all the times you could step out and be seen for who you are, are simply passed over and the opportunity to grow is missed. It is the courage to know and live your truth, moment to moment, no matter the costs that lets your unique light shine. So many things get in the way of this, particularly old habit patterns and the rules of society and politeness, but the truth is no less real. My whole work this week with the Path of Love came down to these two things. Stay awake, alive, juicy, and passionately on fire for my life while not listening to that liar of an inner judge called the ego. Practicing this, despite all the difficulties and unknowns, I can stay with my passionate self.
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Courtesy of PachaMana and Ankati Day

I gleaned many wonderful experiences as a staff member, where our main job is to hold the space and be present for all the participants. This presence becomes a prayer and I know what angels must feel like. To silently watch a human being struggle through life, and lovingly remind them unceasingly and with great love that they are watched over, loved, taken care of, and going in the right direction. As I practiced this I had to laugh at the perfectness of this situation in reverse. I am always watched over, loved, guided, and cared for. Just as I couldn’t interfere with the participants directly, my Angels cannot interfere in my life. I must make my own choices, but I can trust. In that trust I can know God and silence and be happy without knowing where my journey ends. Choosing to live with ever present guidance rather than despair, struggle, or fear is certainly a more powerful choice to improve how I feel about facing the struggles and challenges of each day.
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I once again have made many deep friendships and connections from across the world. New inspirations and resources in the quest to build a sustainable meditation community and hope that I can manifest it with loving effort. My partner Lindsay during the process became a dear friend and close confidant. She is on a similar path and is starting a small retreat center focusing on yoga, healing, and detox called Samara Soul Adventures. This was such a synchronicity and inspiration to me that I feel my idea is not so overwhelming, but that only the first step is the hardest. I found so much love and support from the staff and community in which we were living. PachaMama is a community based on self development, meditation, and sustainability, and living here has only added to my experience and trust in my own future. Many people here have their own retreat centers or healing practices and the more I travel the more I feel this idea I carry is spreading. One day small centers will just blossom around the world and everyone will be able to enjoy their local sustainable communities and transformational processes without traveling so far.
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Courtesy of PachaMana

The finishing touch of this adventure was an all night forest fairy party. Tyohar, the spiritual leader of PachaMama, is also an accomplished DJ and nature photographer who wowed us for 17 hours of amazing rock music while the whole community danced and brought the jungle to life. Dressed as forest creatures, from children to well advanced souls, everyone dug deep and found the blissful energy to dance all through the night and into the next day. I personally had to find the energy and commitment to have fun rather than listen to my ego who clearly said we need sleep and to retreat from this environment because that’s what we do every other night. Of course I ignored it firmly and managed not only to stay awake for the party, but found so much energy that I continued on for many more hours, 36 in all before a nice night of sleep and arising again at 5 am with the sun for my morning routine of stretching and meditation. New friends were made this night and other relationships deepened. The connections of community and oneness were shared amongst all, in the spirit of dance and love. I can’t imagine a more amazing experience to finish this already powerful process.
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I leave PachaMama with a full heart. One of deep gratitude and joy, but also sadness and longing. To honor the sadness of leaving such deep connections is just as real as the joy of having met in the first place. Thankfully we live in an international world with the convenience of technology and ease of travel. Deepening into the heart, I only find more and more to love in this world and those with whom to share it. May you find your own path of love or just enjoy this wonderful process for all the jewels it can bestow into your life. May Gods blessing and the passion of life be with you always.

 

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Visit PachaMana yourself and experience the transformation firsthand!
They have many different programs and classes to choose from, including Path of Love.

 

Finding Balance In Bali

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Swooping into Bali on the eve of Nyepi, Balinese new year and day of silence, the streets are packed with revelers, smiling faces, singing and loud noise crackers. Crews from local temples have hoisted large daemon statues into the air and are parading on every street corner. For the typically laid back, relaxed Balinese people I would come to know, this was quite the extraordinary celebration. Waking up the next day and being legally required to stay in your home compound and relax, I slowly tasted this new setting.

 

It’s a strange feeling to arrive in the tropical paradise of Bali and receive the knowing that after two years of spiritual journeying the desire to travel is finished. The universe has been mysteriously pulling me towards Bali for over a year now, without a promise of why, but a knowing that something was waiting for me. I have arrived and suddenly I want to run away, I am anxious and scared, and beginning an existential crisis. I want solitude and warm clothes and a cup of hot tea. That is not your typical response to landing in the lush garden of Bali, but for me will be a critical turning point in my inner world.
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After the solid support of India’s meditation, and meeting daily with enlightened masters, I find myself adrift in the laid back waters of this tropical paradise. With smiles and yoga, raw juice and food, techno nomads and water sports at every turn, I find this life of leisure a boring routine after so many months on the road. It’s a beautiful picture of a daily world, but I am lost and must be found. My ego must answer a new question that has been building in me: “Who am I and what am I going to do in this life?” Suddenly the question of practical life has reared it’s head in asking the most fundamental questions. What do I want to do to support myself? What skills do I actually have? Can I take my dreams and ideas and do something practical about them?
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I am living in a beautiful villa courtesy of my new friend Salvador. The wildly charismatic, successful, Ashtonga yogi, and restaurant builder from Los Angeles whom I met in India. He is living a perfect balance of work and play, and is an example to me in this difficult time. After slowing down an 80 hour a week restaurant life to balance his spiritual practice and work, he is flowing in the universal juices more than ever. Watching him navigate new business ideas and deals from conception to reality, making friends with yogis and strangers in cafés, and absorbing the meditation world of Osho, I’ve seen levels of synchronicity I’ve forgotten existed. It’s all just a reminder to trust more deeply, that energy flows, to live a life that you love, and embrace yourself in the mystery of existence.
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It’s hard to know the full impact my new mentor in business will make on my life, but I know that my ego took a rough couple weeks of beating before I found my balance. It’s safe to say that I’ve been living a life focused only on my inner work for the last two years. Suddenly living in this new energy of business, practical life, meditation, and creation begged me to answer the question of what do I really want to build in my life and can I overcome the fear to actually do it? The rhetoric answer has always been my sustainable meditation community and my mind fed this back to me in one hundred different ways. Despite the fact that I don’t think I have the skills needed at this moment to accomplish this entire task, I was counting on my desire and inner knowing to pull me through. I was trying to answer the question of how to do this all in my head. Plans, figures and resources needed, locations and promotional success and again and again I was driving myself into a hole of pressure and trying to answer a question that couldn’t be answered without action.

 

This is the quality of the ego my friends. It will take you to the depths of despair, uncertainty, and fear so that it can maintain it’s power and keep you from living the fullness of your life. Despite battling this exact scenario and foe on many occasions, it still gets the better of me from time to time. You have to let it all go. You have to trust yourself and life. And above all else you have to stop trying to answer unanswerable questions. There is an answer of course in your heart, but never in the vicious circle in your own mind.
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I finally managed with the help of some outside observers and patient support to settle down and put these mental questions aside. I began slowly to focus on the present moment and support myself with positive self talk, meditation, and simple daily goals. Most importantly I just stopped trying to answer these very dear and important questions when they popped up. Wouldn’t you know that a few days later I was calmed down. I could see the beauty of Bali and I could enjoy my life again. I could find my center and my authentic longing to live life once again. I could find my prayer, and my love, so that I could express my unique presence in each activity I did no matter how small. From this place, all those important questions seem so easy and simple. A matter of one foot In front of the other and remembering this is the most important remembering one can have.
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I see many people wrestling with this one issue of trying to answer some deep inner question and never finding the answer. Osho has taught me that there is no answer, but the task is to take away the question. The heart deals with how to love and express and experience life. From this place there are no problematic questions as such. There are questions like how can I be in more gratitude, how can I feel the depths and heights of this human life, how can I better serve humanity, how can I be one with the universe, God, and love? These are also unanswerable questions, but the quality is instead a deepening and expanding of the life force. It makes you feel good to wonder these things. Alternatively trying to answer, what to do, am I good enough, and can I trust I’ll be taken care of deplete this vital source of happiness and energy to the point we fall asleep in life and forget the beauty that surrounds us.
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As I woke up myself, I woke up to Bali. The food was better tasting, the people more loving, the whole situation was a pleasure to find myself in. I promptly took a vacation to the beach to surf and scuba for a few days. Out of the hustle of Ubud and the entrepreneurs, I finally relaxed into beach life and the beautiful meditation that is scuba diving. Spending my mornings exploring a vast, mesmerizing, alien world while floating in three dimensions is nothing short of meditation. Breath in, breath out, float up, float down, repeat. In those depths I found myself again and my efforts of centering were only growing more and more. I suddenly had three days left in Bali and the beauty had just found my heart.
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*Courtesy of Carolyn McDonough
Perhaps it is knowing that something is going to end that helps make it all the more beautiful. We could cling instead to what is departing and suffer the inevitable outcome or embrace the fleeting beauty of experience. My ego has a pattern that has become quite familiar to me when it is time to leave a place. It tries to have every good experience again squeezed into just the final days. This is most often expressed by trying to eat every delicious food I know of. Such a silly idea because you just create a belly ache and then none of the food tastes good anymore. This is the egos way of trying to have everything, and in reality keeping you from accomplishing anything.  I’ve settled on going completely against this notion and try to have an entirely new day of experiences on my last day. New experiences are ultimately the only kind of experience we can have and any attempt at repeating one is met sadly with lackluster results.
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Salvador, Maria, new friend Jamie, and myself took a beautiful morning ride through Bali’s rice fields and palm trees to say goodbye to beloved yogi friends and master teachers. Followed by a trip to puri nugong kawi to sample the meditation caves of monks long past. Our real goal was the secret waterfall behind the temple where we plunge into the cold waters on this bright morning and feel the power of nature and come alive in her magnificence.
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My favorite experience it turns out is the Balinese water temple. You take a prayer Into the waters and before the twelve holy spouts you dunk your head and cleanse your heart. With each successful cleansing the prayer gets deeper and deeper. More longing and truth come out and you end up with the most beautiful process of cleansing your heart and knowing you are one with God. All the things you want, all that you are grateful for, all the love you wish to experience has been felt in that cold rush of holy water. Cold and wet, but perfectly happy, I can feel why ceremony is so important to the Balinese lifestyle.
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We finish this spectacular last day with a long planned visit to mosaic. The most expensive restaurant on Bali and one of the best restaurants of south east Asia. While only moderately priced for western standards, this meal blows me away. Over 40 people have a hand in each dish, with expert execution and an emphasis on local flavors, this is easily one of the best meals of my life. Each plate has so many perfectly balanced elements to delight the senses I am in awe of how much effort went into each plate and there will be ten of them, for each of us, depending on our dietary preferences.
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During this meal a strange thing occurred, but of course was orchestrated by the universe for my benefit. Having 12 people, we were split into two tables and my preference was to sit with my new friends and a particularly interesting gentleman with sufi background that I wished to know better. As such, it turned out I would sit with Maria, Sal, and three new friends, two of whom are from Kansas City. Small talk was polite and semi interesting, but the bomb came when Maria and I finally had a talk about our time spent here and the energetic issues we could never quite talk about with any depth. Often times you need a friend or even stranger to help you see the patterns which are obvious to an outsider yet oblivious to yourself. Thus the crux of my reason for being in Bali was made known to me.

 

I don’t know what the center of my power and identity of self is. Maria, thankfully a master in her own sense of identity, let the axe fall so to speak and gave me a strong dose of truth. It takes a strong person to deliver that kind of truth and be comfortable doing so. It is true that when I arrived in Bali I could not find my support, the base on which I could stand and be relaxed in my self. In India, Osho holds that place of support which I now understand more fully why I feel so comfortable there. This lesson is about being out in the world and finding my own inner support that doesn’t waver. Maria needed support as well and when we turned to each other in Bali and couldn’t support the other, problems arose. Our mutual support turned out to be Salvador who was a rock of joy and enthusiasm for living life each day in paradise. While I was struggling to find myself and battling my ego I did learn a few things.
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Trying to answer a question in your head, for example brooding about something, is useless as the answer cannot exist there. If it did, you would have answered it, but since it isn’t, that is the egos way of running you in a circle to assert its importance and generally just tire you out. Remedy; put aside that thought entirely and replace it with action or positive self talk or prayer.

 

Laziness comes in many forms. If you cannot constantly apply yourself in your own life, slowly a type of sleep begins to master parts of your life. I was living more in thoughts and dreams than being active in creating the life I wanted. I needed to be more myself and take some risks. For fear of upsetting another person or some imagined status quo, I lazily placated myself and everyone by being “the good boy”. Sometimes you just have to stir the pot and be a bit crazy; upset some people, say something daring, be exciting. There is no need to be mean, but without poking people or yourself at times, you become lazy to your own growth and fall asleep.
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What is your base of support and are you in control of it? I mean, is your base located inside or outside of yourself. Mine has been an external support, that of meditation and community. To bring that locus of control inside, to an internal support is a self growth exercise. Finding out what you can stand on is vital to branching out while being in your authentic power. This is where the confidence to support yourself, emotionally, spiritually, and materially comes into play. With that deep knowing, you are able to rest in your natural self and apply yourself in any endeavor.

 

I have struggled with this area of personal identity. With so much meditation and letting go of attachments, my cunning ego also found ways to exist with this new spiritual mindset. When you let go of excitement, curiosity, wonder, preferences, new ideas, and expansion, you begin to live a flat life, not a real life of non-attachment. Non attachment is a very positive state, you can delight in all things, especially the small things. Somewhere I forgot this state of being. The spiritual journey is full of dangers without any guarantee of being found. Which makes the process of being found such a wonderful experience. The more I wake up to the fact I was sleeping, the more I enjoy my own process of waking up.
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That is the whole trick I believe. Once you start on the road of waking up one step at a time, everything will find its own place. Allow the beauty to be your focus and put all the concerns of the mind to the side. Bali was a wake up call, ripe with hidden teachers and lessons. It doesn’t take traveling halfway across the planet to learn these lessons, you can wake up to your life right where you are. It takes a little focus, it takes a little effort, and in the end you keep taking it one step at a time.
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Bali was about finding balance between the internal and the external. It started a new dialogue that will move me along the path. I am thankful to all the teachers and strangers who stepped on my path to show me the way. Those that help remind me to keep waking up, to keep moving forward, to keep shining my own beautiful light, because one day I will realize myself and that will make all the difference.

 

Many blessings to you and your journey. May you find your way happily.