The British writer of Indian origin Pico Iyer explained beautifully the meaning of traveling with these words: “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves”. Indeed, what happens in most of our trips is that we stop being the character we play in the routine of our usual environment in order to lose ourselves” in an alien world. Plus, if we happen to be slightly open, the immersion and adaptation to a foreign medium and circumstance leads us to question much of what we had taken for granted.
In each trip we discover things that resonate with us and that we want to incorporate to our self, plus other things that feel too alien to us and which reaffirm us in “our way”. These two types of experiences help us redefine ourselves and evolve into a different version of us. The immersion into “the otherness” allows us to reencounter our essence, since our original self had given up too much of itself to adapt to our usual environment, and we had lost track of it.
This experience of the traveler of “losing herself to find herself” happens more intensely in a sacred trip. Why? Because of the special conjunction of the three basic elements of every trip: the destination, the travelers and the guide.
– The transcendence of the destination
If we admit that everything is alive, we will consider this planet as a being who is much wiser, older and powerful than us. If we accept, too, that it may have an energetic grid with special junctures (as we do, according to acupuncture), we will better understand why some places have been considered sacred by very different cultures throughout the millennia.
The truth is that even those who do not follow any spiritual path acknowledge the energetic essence of a certain place when they state that “there is something special about it”. Those of us who follow a spiritual path go a little further, and we may even realize that it was not us who decided to visit that site. We may become aware that it was the place itself who called us, and that Life did its part to make it happen, since it was important to meet our previous agreements –to settle pending issues, to meet a certain person or to experiment some sort of inner activation of which we may be only slightly conscious.
In this type of trip it is easy to get really lost amidst the powerful energy of the site that called us. But it may be precisely this experience that we need to reset ourselves, and to be reminded that we are always being impeccably led by Life itself.
– The attitude of travelers
The attitude of a traveler to a sacred place is different from the tourist’s. He shows more respect and openness to the site, since he is more aware of its significance.
Plus his attitude towards the trip itself is also different in that he is more open to any transformation he may undergo. Because the sacred traveler usually keeps in mind that nothing in Life is random, and instead of making an enemy out of life, he collaborates with It.
Moreover, a sacred trip offers the additional advantage of the strength of the group, since when a group of different people meet through the common desire to grow, discover and enjoy, many synergies are created and transformations multiply exponentially.
In my experience, I stated that in the first days of a sacred trip, I took pictures of the sites not paying attention to the rest of the travelers, but in the last days I took pictures of the travelers without paying attention to the sites. Having had this insight has helped me understand that my intention of losing myself in places has led me to a reencounter with people.
The Wisdom of the Guide
What makes some of us choose certain agencies and guides again is their approach towards the act of traveling.The sensitive and experienced guide combines an intelligent and practical planning with a decisive and attentive accompaniment. And above all, he shows a great deal of respect to the experience of each traveler and of the group as a whole.
Accomplishing all of this is not an easy task. Any good observer will realize that after every day of gratifying experiences there is a great deal of tracking, planning, intuition, diplomacy, bargaining and even good luck.
We all understand that the strengths needed to command a ship, direct a film or conduct an orchestra are very diverse. But guiding sacred trips is a challenge of a different nature, since it is mandatory to combine down to earth logistics with a high energetic sensitivity.
Finding the appropriate balance in these two areas requires a high personal involvement, in both physical and subtle realms. It really takes a great alchemist to organize transportations, itineraries, lodgings and activities in such powerful environments, so that the mixture of people from very different backgrounds succeeds in turning their grey lead into shining gold.
That is why my main advice to those undertaking a sacred trip would be to trust the experienced guide and remain open. Open to the outer forces of the site, open to the inner changes that may arise, and open as well to the other sacred travelers, whose wisdom may surprise you in delightful ways.