Author Archives: tessheaven

An Easy Way To Meditate

I struggled for years to find an enjoyable form of meditation.  I had some amazing mind expanding experiences with various practices, but was no closer to attaining my true goal of inner peace.  Anxiety was a normal part of my life and relaxation did not come easily to me.

For some reason it didn’t occur to me that learning to be at peace was the same as learning any other skill.  Practise is the key.  I realised I had practised many techniques previously, but rarely actually practised being peaceful.  I meditated with tension and force, rather than in a relaxed manner.  I learned various breathing techniques and exercises which gave me glimpses of what was possible, but I was no closer to achieving the calm state that I longed for.

It wasn’t until I gave up on meditation that I discovered a technique that consistently worked for me.  Although I had stopped meditating, I was still inspired by the idea of peace.  I collected magical images that intrigued me, and studied the movement of graceful yogis.  These showed me that the depth of peace we can experience is infinite.  It is a beautiful never ending journey into the depths of our soul.

Instead of focusing on a specific posture or breathing exercise, I began to embody this peaceful way of being.  I had a wealth of inspiration to draw upon now.  At first I visualised these peaceful images of other people, and did my best to embody the same feeling by copying them.  Gradually I was able to see myself in this way.  At first I worried that I was just pretending, but it’s no different from pretending to do a handstand.  If you pretend enough you’ll be doing it before long!

The peace I felt was profound and very real.  It became a part of my daily life, because rather than being dependent upon a specific technique, it was a result of simply practising being peaceful.  I still frequently suffer from anxiety, but I am relaxed MUCH more than I am anxious now, rather than the other way around.

You may at first think you don’t know how to be peaceful.  I certainly believed this for a while.  If peace is something you long for you must have some concept of what it is, otherwise there would be no longing.  You may recognise it in something outside of yourself, but to recognise this feeling of peace you must be experiencing it, if only for a brief moment.

The key to feeling it more consistently is practice.  Use whatever techniques help you, like steady breathing, movement, or sitting in a particular posture, but prioritise peace over the meditation method.  Don’t be afraid to pretend, as this will inevitably lead to your body and mind settling down, if only for a moment.  Don’t force anything, just be at peace for one moment.  Feel the feeling for a split second.  This is progress.  With more practice being peaceful you will be able to feel it for longer.  Eventually you will be able to embody a more peaceful state at will.

There will always be situations where this seems impossible, but if we acknowledge that it is an endless journey and commit to the process we can enjoy the challenge of becoming the most peaceful version of ourselves.  Every little bit of practice we do will have a beneficial ripple effect in our lives.  Even a few seconds of peaceful meditation is worthwhile, as each time will strengthen your ability.

We may not notice the effects immediately, but like anything else in life, you get out what you put in.  If we spend time swimming, playing guitar or juggling these things will become easier.  Similarly, if we invest our time peacefully, we will experience more peace as a result.

How do you like to meditate?  What relaxes you, and how can you incorporate more of this into your life?  I would love to hear from you with any other comments below 🙂

 

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Hidden Treasure

Love is everywhere.  If we’re lucky we find it in abundance in our friends, family, nature, beautiful moments of solitude, cosy times with our pets, playful fun times, and joyous celebrations.  Most people have no desire to look outside of the spheres of love that surround them when everything is going well.

Having grown up in a safe, loving, comfortable bubble, I’ve always been intrigued by what is on the other side.  I ventured out of my safe container into unknown terrain, where I didn’t understand the rules.  I encountered darkness, but I also found treasure.  Love may appear to be absent from some places, but the more I look, the more I discover it is simply hidden from view.

When love is pushed out of the picture by pain, confusion, misunderstanding, harsh judgement and fear, it becomes a gleaming jewel, shining brightly in the dirt.  Moments of connection and hope amongst struggle and grief are absolutely priceless.  Finding pieces of your soul where you were afraid to look is like discovering the holy grail on a real life quest.

Witnessing the suffering in the world, and in myself, has led me to discover the immense love and power that we all have within us.  When situations seem impossible, we either collapse and give up hope, or we discover more of our infinite selves.

Sometimes I’m not in the mood for treasure hunting.  I’ve made the mistake of forcing myself to brave the tricky terrain when I really wasn’t up to it.  This never ends well.  There is no point embarking on an epic quest when all you want to do is relax and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

But the gold is still there, lurking in those dark places.  When you are rested and whole, it will lure you in.  Just be sure you are ready for the adventure!  It will test you to your limit, but hopefully you will come out shining and ready for more.

Where have you found hidden treasure?  I have encountered so much beauty and love amongst social outcasts, criminals, the ‘mentally ill’, the filthiest streets and the strangest situations.  Be cautious, but be brave.

 

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Relaxation Inspiration

We all know the enormous benefits of relaxation, but sometimes it can feel like an extra thing that we just don’t have time for.  When we become inspired by the idea of relaxation it can change our whole outlook.  Become utterly enchanted by the idea of peace, and you will find states of dreamy relaxation much more accessible.

I never really ‘got’ guided meditations and visualization style relaxation sessions, and would find myself over thinking them.  This completely changed when I realized the power of using imagery that actually inspired me.  I was finally able to see myself being peaceful and relaxed, and the more I did this, the more it was reflected outwardly in my body.

I encourage you to create your own dreamscapes (real or in your mind) that speak to your soul.  Here are some I created to get you started on the journey into your magical relaxation dreamland!

At One With Nature

Contented and relaxed, see yourself blissfully dissolving into a sea of wild flowers.  There is no separation between you and your beautiful surroundings.  Your magic and the magic of nature are one and the same.

It is only possible to feel a meaningful connection with nature when we are relaxed, so I find visualizing myself at one with some beautiful natural surroundings to be a great way to unwind.

Among The Stars

Sometimes when I need a bit of distance from what is going on around me, I like to imagine myself floating in a galaxy of stars.

It helps me not stress over the small things, and gives me my sparkle back.

In A Peaceful Bubble

Drift away in a bubble of love.  Weightless and free, you have everything need.

Being in a peaceful bubble makes you feel lighter, protected and completely at ease.  Try it and see!

I find it really helps to include myself in the images, as it helps me to see myself as peaceful and relaxed.  Become your vision and feel all other stresses and worries melting away.

We will still be stressed at times, and experience intense emotions.  Never try to hold yourself to some ‘perfect’ image of peace.  The more relaxed I am, the more easily I am able to actively embrace all of my emotions, and the more OK I feel with expressing anger, sadness etc.

Use these and your own visualizations as a tool to experience deep relaxation in your own body.  The more we experience this feeling, the more we realize how strong and powerful we really are, and the less we feel the need to ‘escape’ reality.

Does relaxation come easily to you, or is it something you need to consciously prioritize?  There was a time when it felt nearly impossible to me, but through sustained practice relaxation is now much more accessible.  Leave me a comment below with your experiences 🙂

 

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Sprinkle Love Wherever You Go

Sometimes we forget the value of small acts of kindness and love.  It doesn’t just benefit the recipient, we are elevated too in the process.  When you do something nice for someone else, or even for yourself, it creates a warm glow in your heart, and life feels just a little bit more magical.

It can be easy to feel disconnected from life when we forget the importance of these acts of love.  However, by taking some small action we can instantly reconnect.  Not only do we feel better when we think of others, but we become a magnet to receive more love ourselves.

Acts of kindness can be as simple as remembering to call your parents to see how they are, visiting a friend, or taking some food to a homeless shelter.  What you actually do matters far less than the intention behind it.

It doesn’t even matter who your love is directed towards.  Any good deed, or even a good thought, will bring you more into the beautiful divine flow of life.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

No act of kindness is too small, and the effort is always worth it.  Focusing on love takes you out of limited thinking into a world full of possibilities.  Send a thoughtful message to a friend, wear something bright with a smile when it’s raining to cheer up a stranger, or spend time doing something relaxing with your family.

These loving deeds are so simple that they may seem insignificant, but when we remember the immense benefits we will be inspired to incorporate them into our lives more frequently.  Imagine yourself as a magical creature sprinkling love wherever you go.  Enjoy the tiny spark of love released in each act of kindness, taking you one step further along your path to the stars.

How do you show kindness and love?  What small things can you do that will make a big difference?  Leave me a comment below 🙂

 

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Find Your Wonderland

As I stood on the balcony of the mosque’s minaret with 360° views of the city of Mostar, everything began to fall into place.  The crystal clear emerald green river that flowed through the middle of the old town, beneath the iconic bridge, vividly reflected back to me the peace and freedom I felt within my mind.

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

My joy was so much greater because I saw that I’d created this moment for myself, and there would be countless more to come.  I’ve experienced being in paradise before, but unable to fully connect with my surroundings, feeling heavy in my heart.  At last I felt like I was committed enough to my dreams to overcome many of the difficulties I’d been struggling with recently.

Adventure had been my intention for this trip, and it had come in so many unexpected forms that were exactly what I had needed.  In that moment I felt a sense of soaring freedom so much greater than I had ever expected.  I gazed down at the magnificent view and reflected on the journey that had brought me to this point.

Last year I left the UK for Costa Rica imagining that I may travel indefinitely, working my way around the world.  5 weeks later, after being refused entry to Panama and missing my friends and family at Christmas time, I found myself on a flight back home.  I couldn’t believe I was leaving this tropical haven for cold and gloomy Bristol in the winter!

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

But this was the beginning of a new phase for me of really trusting my heart over what appeared to be logical.  The longing I had to spend Christmas with my friends and family was too strong to ignore.  What was the point in creating a fabulous life for myself full of freedom and adventure, if this freedom excluded returning to the one place I wanted to be most in the entire world?

So I went home.  Since then I have been gradually getting more and more in tune with my intuition.  I have learned to be brave and trust myself, even when I feel like I ‘should’ be doing something different.

After several months of practising the art of living in this way, I could feel the difference it had made.  I was traveling again, but this time everything was in perfect harmony.  I had become much clearer with my intentions, and had developed the courage to follow through with them most of the time.  I understood now that there would be challenges, but I could see the bigger picture and I knew it was always worth it.

Kotor, Montenegro

I have spent most of this year housesitting back in Bristol, and taking shorter trips in between, instead of the long term travel I had planned.  Everything has turned out so perfectly, despite the fact I have felt like I’m fumbling around in the dark.  This has given me so much more faith in my ability to create anything I truly want.

It would be easy to settle into this lifestyle, but I’ve learned that it is essential to my happiness to take action based on my true desires, even if it doesn’t appear to fit in with my current reality.  Freedom and connection with nature are things that I’ve been craving more and more of lately.  When I’m traveling this seems to come much more naturally to me, and at the end of my recent Europe trip I felt this need more strongly than ever.

The simplicity of dipping into crystal clear water or spending an hour lying in the sun, even in the middle of town in Zadar, was so immensely fulfilling.  Just as at the end of my Costa Rica trip I’d felt my soul pulling me home, in my heart I now felt called towards slow and simple long term travel.

Zadar, Croatia

After returning home early from Costa Rica, I had a lot of short action packed adventures which were exactly what I needed to build up my confidence.  I tried to slow down and get work done on the road, but my desire to explore, along with time limitations, meant that I spent a lot of time rushing around seeing new exciting things.  Working on my blog and Etsy shop inevitably took a back seat.

It was all so exhilarating, but the days I enjoyed the most were always when I stopped trying to do everything and just enjoyed soaking in the moment.  With more time in each place I would be able to relax, work and explore.  So, based on my deep heart felt desire, I am taking some very simple action to prioritize longer term travel in the future.

I am fully booked with housesitting in Bristol until February, but I have decided not to take any more bookings after that, for the time being.  It feels a little scary, as I don’t know where I’ll be staying or how much money I will have by then, but it feels liberating to have made the decision.  I also know that if I follow through with my intention and have faith, everything will work out for the best.

Kotor, Montenegro. This cat knew how to relax and enjoy the simple things in life!

So although I have come full circle, back to my desire to explore the world indefinitely, I feel so much more balanced and at peace with myself.  It honestly doesn’t matter where I am in the world, as long as I am following my heart.

The more I tune in to my deepest desires, set intentions, and take action accordingly, the more connected I feel to this beautiful world.  I am at home right now, and even though I have plans to travel again in February, there is nowhere else I would rather be in this moment.

Finding our wonderland has absolutely nothing to do with our surroundings (although we may find we feel compelled to change these when we get in touch with what we really want), and absolutely everything to do with acting in alignment with what we love.  This will change depending on what we need at the time.  In my experience, the more we can listen to this and follow through with action even when we can’t see how everything fits together, the closer we will be to paradise no matter where we are in the world.

There has been a lot more to my ongoing journey towards inner peace than I have mentioned in this post, which is just a small piece of the puzzle.  I aim to share the parts that I find inspiring in the hope it will touch you in some way.  There are many struggles that are going on beneath the surface, and a lot of things that I have decided to keep private for now.  Whatever battles you are facing, keep heading in the direction of hope.  You are never alone.

What are you inspired by, or what is your heart calling for right now?  What action can you take that is aligned with this?  Leave me a comment below 🙂

 

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The Beauty Of Letting Go

I recently wrote ‘How To Be An Organised Free Spirit‘, inspired by the peace and serenity a little planning and organisation brings me.  Hopefully sharing it will help me to remember the amazing benefits of having some structure to my days.

It’s easy to get stuck in rigid ways of thinking when we start to plan a little too much though.  Ever since writing that post life has been showing me the beauty of letting go and trusting the universe.

Before my trip to southeastern Europe I was starting to worry about how I would afford it, as well as going to Portugal in October.  I knew I could easily get more work if I put in a little effort, but my heart was yearning for creative expression, rest, and all the things that don’t earn me any immediate money!

I had a choice of whether to follow my mind or heart, so obviously I chose heart!  I spent time singing and playing guitar, drawing pictures of monsters, and taking walks in the woods.  It felt so good that it was impossible to regret it.

Woodland near my home in the UK.

As if by magic, massage bookings and enquiries came out of nowhere, and I even won £30 on the lottery (my Grandma insists on buying us tickets every week!).  I’d also been slightly concerned at having nowhere of my own to live for a short while during the summer, but luckily a house-sitting opportunity arose for exactly that time.

Things were never that bad.  The worst that could have happened was possibly having to cancel one of my many holidays this year, so choosing to take a step back wasn’t much of a risk.  I would never advocate risking anything that you can’t afford to lose, but when the outcome really doesn’t matter, letting go of our need to control everything can be so rewarding.

Swimming in the river near Bath, UK (edited using PicsArt).

I’d arrived in Zadar, Croatia, determined only to stay a couple of days.  With so many more places further afield to explore, I didn’t want to be stuck in one place.  I hadn’t even intended to go to Zadar, it was just a convenient place to fly in to.

The second I stepped off the bus from the airport though, everything changed.  The pictures and videos I’d seen online failed to capture the spirit of this beautiful place.  As soon as I arrived I knew I needed to stay longer.  It wasn’t something big or striking that called me to stay, it was simply the tranquil feeling that came over me as I strolled along the harbour that night.

Zadar, Croatia

It was early in the season, before the masses of tourists were to arrive for summer.  The weather was warm but not too hot, and the crystal clear water that surrounded the town brought with it a peaceful purity that calmed my soul.  I was eager to explore as much of the area as possible, but my heart wanted to stay, so again I listened to it.

Zadar

As time went on, my expectations and plans were challenged in more direct and harsher ways, and it took me longer to see the beauty.  I have a STRONG emotional attachment to food, and if I miss a meal I actually worry that I may starve to death!  However, this trip had me in situations that seriously confronted this.  I came out the other side of the utter panic to realise that, surprisingly enough, a few days in a row of missing meals and eating only rice crackers, fruit, and whatever other tiny scraps of vegan food I could get my hands on, wasn’t going to kill me!

I feel sooo much stronger for it.  I understand this would not be a big deal for most people, but to confront one of my biggest fears was extremely empowering.  I also deal very badly with not having enough sleep, and when combined with hunger the result for me was not pretty!  However, looking back I am so incredibly grateful for the chance to confront these difficult emotions, because coming out the other side felt amazing!

I let go in so many other ways, made so many new friends, and had adventures that I would never have dreamed of a few weeks ago.  With the help of some fantastic people, I threw myself into social situations which felt uncomfortable at first, but I was able to push through to find happiness and connection on the other side.  Sacrificing my comfort zone lit up my world, bringing so much vibrancy and joy.

This is the lesson I want to remember.  Not the discomfort and anxiety triggered by letting go, but the wonderful aliveness that comes as a result.  So next time I am wondering whether to dive head first into something unknown, I hope I will remember the beauty of letting go, and that every time I’ve done it the benefits have far outweighed any temporary suffering it has caused.

When was the last time you let go?  Was it easy or did you suffer?  Was it worth it??  Let me know in the comments below 🙂

 

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You Are The Entire Universe

Sometimes inner peace is about relaxing, smoothing over rough edges, smiling and simply breathing.  Other times, when we are dealing with turbulent forces inside and outside of us, we are forced to really embrace our infinite nature.

We may experience thunder storms and volcanoes inside of us, which can be overwhelming, or act as a reminder to grow.  Sometimes the battles we are facing seem so big that only in becoming bigger that a galaxy of stars do we feel able to cope.  Only then are we able to see the beauty of the mountains we have conquered.

View from Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal

When you are the entire universe there is no need to fight against the wild forces that exist within you.  You can appreciate the fire, the lightning and rough seas, just as much as you can appreciate the beautiful sunny days when your mind is crystal clear.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Dissolving into a blissful state of peace is easy when conditions are gentle, but when we are facing challenges (whether these come from within or without) we get the opportunity to feel our power.  When we remember that we have the ability to expand beyond whatever emotion or turmoil we are facing, no matter how huge it seems, we no longer feel the need to try to deny, diminish or fight against it.

The fire inside us that we were previously trying to extinguish for fear it would destroy us, becomes pure magic.  We no longer feel that we are drowning in our emotions.  We can swim through them, enjoying their depth and vastness.

Tranquillity may not seem possible in the midst of extreme conditions, but if we can visualise the trials we are facing to be powerful forces of nature, peace can be found in visualising ourselves to be the infinite space of a universe full of stars which allows everything within to exist without restraint.

When we no longer feel the need to restrict any part of ourselves or others due to fear, we can experience a beautiful freedom which grows with us.  The more we can expand into our infinite selves, the more joy we can find, even in our struggles.

When you are the entire universe, how can you not see the beauty of the explosions inside of you?  They are no threat to your existence, and the drama only enhances your magnificence.  So don’t be afraid next time a storm comes, it’s just showing you who you really are!

It is my wish that this post helps you find a little more acceptance for difficult emotions or experiences you may face, and is not intended to be taken too seriously.  Never be afraid to seek out professional help if you need it.  Therapy is an incredibly empowering process which I would recommend 100% from my personal experience.  Your journey is unique, and doing what feels right for YOU without fear of judgement is the best advice I can give.  Feel free to leave me a comment below to say hello 🙂

 

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Strange Beauty

Other worldly things remind us that anything is possible.  They temporarily set us free from our limited perspective, and remind us of our infinite potential.  Strangeness is essential if we are to evolve and grow.  Every breakthrough or new invention is the result of doing something differently, or something that has never been done before.

A great way to free up our creativity is to fully embrace all things weird and wonderful.

It’s easy to feel at peace on a sunny day, surrounded by pleasant things, but a whole new world of magic opens up when we can begin to see the beauty in unusual places.

Reflections, Dublin, Ireland

I got very lost recently when I was in Belgrade, Serbia.  I found myself in what I considered to be an ‘ugly’ part of town, miles away from where I was trying to go.  Luckily I get lost a lot, and was ready for the familiar feelings of anger and frustration that arose.  However, when I’m travelling my aim is to enjoy every minute, even when things aren’t going my way.

I suddenly realised how awesome it was to be alone in an area of the city where tourists never go.  My eyes opened to the beauty around me, and I even began to enjoy the feeling of frustration at being lost.  If it was easy there would be no adventure.

Belgrade, Serbia

These strange wonders, that we encounter when we least expect, provide contrast and allow us to fully appreciate the more obvious joyful experiences in life.

As well as these unexpected discoveries of hidden treasure, we can purposefully choose to admire the captivating weirdness of the world around us.  Take a long slow walk seeking out the magic in unusual places.  Discover the beauty in the brambles and the dirt, and admire the strangeness of all of existence.

When we view weird, eerie and even ugly things as reminders of our creative potential, fear and disgust are instantly transformed into pleasure and awe.  Our natural tendency is to avoid unpleasant things, and for good reason, but by releasing resistance to what we fear we may learn something new about the world and ourselves.

Inspiration often hides in strange places!

Graffiti in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

If you tried my suggestion above of taking a walk with the intention of appreciating the strange beauty all around us, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.  What did you discover?

 

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Shimmering Magic Everywhere

After an overnight bus to Belgrade, Serbia, I was feeling exhausted and a little grumpy.  As I wandered around the most beautiful part of the city, I found it difficult to appreciate my surroundings, so I had to make a deliberate effort to change my mindset.

Through meditation and repeatedly focusing my attention back towards anything beautiful or that I appreciated in some way, I found myself slowly manifesting my intention to see the world through fresh eyes.

Belgrade, Serbia

I wrote this meditation as a way to share the magic with you.

Meditation

“Shimmering magic everywhere.”  Make this your mantra and watch the wonders unfold.  Keep your heart expansive and your eyes open, and see how much more beauty you notice.  Feel a subtle tingling throughout your whole body as you realise you are a part of this miraculous reality.

Belgrade, Serbia

Whatever your current surroundings are, glide through with lightness and ease.  Appreciate every blessing, no matter how small, and give yourself the gift of enjoying each precious moment.

Shimmering. Magic. Everywhere.

Even when it feels like there is nothing beautiful to appreciate, there is magic hiding in plain sight.

Cloud reflected in water.

There is magic in the window reflections, in the street lights and flickering shadows.  There is magic in the sky, and the ground beneath our feet.

As you observe the shimmering magic all around you, feel it inside your body too.  You created this feeling with your intention, and with practice it becomes a lot easier to access.  You can store it up to use how and whenever you want, and radiate it out into the world.

Another amazing way to embody this feeling is by wearing beautiful jewels and anything else you find uplifting.  Take a look at my Etsy shop to see some of my creations, made with the intention of reflecting this magic.

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The Magic Is In You – Hidden Places

I’m so excited to be travelling to southeastern Europe this week.  People keep asking me where I’m going, and I still have no idea!  Even though I’ve embraced planning more recently (see my post ‘How To Be An Organised Free Spirit‘), I’m going back to my old adventurous ways on this trip!

I’m sure I’ll check off some famous tourist sites, such as Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, and Kotor Bay, Montenegro, but what I’m most looking forward to are those precious moments alone in hidden places.

You don’t have to venture far off the beaten track to find them, you just need an explorer’s attitude!  If you give yourself time to get lost, you can appreciate your surroundings even if you aren’t where you intended to be.

I remember being amazed at the dramatic scenery of Cappadocia, Turkey, along with many other tourists.  The hot air balloon ride was out of this world, and the fairy chimney rock formations were incredible.  However, the best part was getting lost in this arid landscape.  I vividly remember quiet moments alone, away from the main sights, scrambling up sandy slopes, through bushes, with thorns in my shoes!

Rose Valley, Cappadocia

You don’t have to travel far to discover secret treasures though.  I’m still finding new hidden spots within walking distance of home, and often have to remind myself of where I am, as I feel like I could be hundreds of miles away.

That’s the beauty of going somewhere new, even if it’s just a quiet park you’ve never been to before.  For a moment you feel as though you have been transported to another world.

Meditation

Explore a hidden place, near or far, or just somewhere quiet that you’ve never been before.  As you take in your surroundings, contemplate how many hidden places there must be in the world.  Even if you spent your whole life trying, you couldn’t begin to see them all.

As you explore this new place, let it be a reminder of the endless adventures that are possible.  Adventure doesn’t need to be about location, it is a feeling that comes from within (see my post ‘The Benefit Of An Adventurous Mindset‘).  If you keep your eyes and mind open there are opportunities everywhere to make new discoveries.

Greenbank Cemetery, Bristol, UK

Notice the tingles of excitement you get when discovering a new corner of this beautiful planet.  Your senses become heightened as you experience this place for the first time.  Spend as long as you wish soaking in this feeling.  Try to capture it in a few words or photos, so that you can return to it later.

There are so many amazing miracles happening all around us.  Let this experience of exploring a hidden place be a reminder to stay tuned in to the spirit of discovery, so that we can witness more of this magic every day.

Exploring hidden places is such a great way to find a bit of peace and reset our busy minds.  Is it something you already do regularly, or something you want to do more of?  Let me know in the comments below 🙂

 

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