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"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more." — Pico Iyer

It will come as no surprise when I say that we live amidst the chaos of constant stimuli, continual distractions and endless drama. Such is life in our modern world. Our challenge as ever-evolving, conscious beings is to maintain a sense of balance, awareness and inward stability despite those constant demands. For me, it’s important to healthfully disconnect from daily life sometimes, as opposed to run away, and leave behind distractions like the Internet, TV, telephone, family and friendship dramas, and the often self-inflicted demands of career. I do that through travel. This opportunity to disconnect provides the perfect platform to reconnect, to fall in love with oneself and life all over again.

With all the endless location and vacation options, it can be overwhelming to choose which one best serves as a backdrop for your quest. A quality I often look for in a location is the presence of nature.

It is no accident that many well-known authors and poets have found their inspiration in nature: Look at Mary Oliver, Annie Dillard, Robert Frost and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Places where we feel the overwhelming presence of nature, whether it be majestic mountains, tranquil lakes, open fields or endless stretches of white sandy beach, provide us with rare opportunities to be still and stand in awe of the beauty of creation. We tap back into what makes us human and whole. Mother Nature’s artwork is on view everywhere, but it often takes the process of traveling for us to open up, slow down and take it all in.

With that in mind, here are four of my current favorite nature-filled spots:

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Surrounded by three majestic volcanoes, this breathtaking lake is defined by stillness and provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for meditation, yoga and contemplation. From the vibrant colors to the crisp clean mountain air, a sense of peace permeates. 

Santorini, Greece

In particular, I love the ancient walking path between Thira and Oia, way up high above the sea, away from the island crowds, you are able to experience the true beauty of the island. Natural beauty surrounds you, but there is an ancient deeply rooted beauty that can only be found in the silence of the white washed churches scattered along the path and in the sun-smoothed the clouds.

Galapagos, Ecuador

Nature at its finest is found on this rare gem of an archipelago, which proves the power of conservation. Witnessing the vibrant colors and unique plant and animal life in their untouched, natural habitat is life affirming and also humbling. Plus, the white sandy stretches of beach without a vendor or hotel in sight are bliss!

Todos Santos, Mexico

Still a bit of a hidden secret, Todos Santos is a bohemian-chic gem surf town on the Pacific, with miles and miles of wild, untouched beaches in all directions, free of hotels, vendors and umbrellas-it is indeed a beach-walkers paradise. Let the endless sound of the roaring waves inspire your breath in a walking meditation. Time it well and see handfuls of whales and dolphins as they swim close to shore. Truly inspiring!

photo credits: kimberley tell, anastasia frank

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