Visit beautiful places & come back to find yourself
Are there places, which will change us or are we changing a place with our presence?
Have you ever had the feeling, that certain places are special for you? An unexpected sensation of calmness and ease. As if peace is floating through you? What makes visiting these beautiful places different to others? How can I find myself?
When I lived in Switzerland, there was this place, a plateau, a couple of hundreds meter above the town. It was surrounding a monastery and it was close to my kids’ school. Located at the lower level of the beginning forest, which covered the way to Chaumont (1.180 above sea level).
Soak in the view
The view was breathtaking: the medieval city of Neuchatel to your feet, in front of it the lake Neuchatel. You could see as far as the Berner Oberland, with Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger shining bluish at the horizon. On the other side the deep green of the forest. I tried to come there as often as possible, to have a walk in the woods surrounding the plateau. Little signs where guiding a spiritual path to the abbey, with 10 different stations from the city downtown to the source St. André, which was located in front of the abbey.
I loved this place. The fresh air, the amazing view and being in nature let me overcome with an immediate feeling of peace and “being at the right place”.
I had this feeling again. When, a couple of years later, we moved to Athens, Greece, I had the same feeling (“our exceptional life as Expat family”). Athens couldn´t be more different. It was buzzing with people and chaotic traffic, but you could get a taste of the Greek lifestyle at every corner. Combined with the consistently burning sun and the possibility to go to the ocean in a 30 minutes’ drive, it was a perfect place to live. I felt home, I felt alive.
Γνῶθι σαυτόν (Gnṓthi seautón) – „Know Thyself!“, said the scripture at the entrance to the temple from Delphi, an ancient site up in the “holy Mount Parnassus” further to the North of Athens, also called the oracle of Delphi. I didn´t know that by the time we visited Delphi. We dragged our kids up the hill through the ruins in the heat of the March sun and all they remarked was “This is it? A couple of pillars? Can´t we have something to eat?”
I was thrilled. The view was incredible. Olive trees as far as we could see, in the far end the glittering blue ocean one with the sky and behind us the grey stone from Mount Parnassos. “This is where history has been written”, my heart screamed with joy, thinking of the story I had read in the travel guide. According to it, Zeus, father of the Gods, had sent two eagles out from Mount Olymp in two different directions to find the navel of the world. The two eagles met in Delphi and this is how it became the “center of the world”.
Floating though ancient times
I enjoyed this trip up in the rough Greek mountains, covered with intense greenery. We also stopped at the remarkable abbeys of Meteora, which seem to “float” on top of the hills and drove further to the Vikos Gorge, an incredible green gorge in the Greek mountains.
All these places had something in common. All these places had very special energies. Something you can´t describe, but which changes your mood and enhance your overall spirit immediately.
Since ancient times, these pilgrim places or sacred sites exist. They attract billions of people around the world. Their magic is often bound to mysterious stories from the ancient times, like the one from the oracle from Delphi, which tells us how the virgin danced above a crevice, where dazzling steams escaped, stammering words in extasy. The surrounding priests were interpreting her words and come up with an important decision for the ruler, who had asked for help.
You don´t need to ask to find the answer
I had not asked the oracle of Delphi for help, but when I read about the inscription, after we had moved back to Germany, the circle closed. “Know yourself”, was written there and with it the answer to why these places had been so important to me, why Greece. It was the place, where I had lived with my heart, fully centered and anchored in the present moment. It was the sudden knowledge that I had missed out this vibrant life of a pulsating city like Athens and that I was urging to explore my creativity further.
We can visit places with extraordinary energy, all over the world, but it is, what we take with us, that makes all the difference.
(Also read “Why you sometimes have to go in the wrong direction to find your bliss.”)d
"Heed these words, you who wish to probe the depths of nature. If you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither will you find it outside yourself. If you ignore the wonders of your own house, how do you expect to find other wonder? In you is hidden the treasure of treasures. Know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods."