Sacred Sites & Religious Shrines

By: Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed.

Have you ever wanted to go on a Quest?

A quest is a special journey with a goal in mind. It involves seeking and discovering something new and special. Perhaps for some it involves enlightenment, healing, gaining power or being exalted. Many religions have pilgrimages to historical sites involved in the development of the belief system. Tour companies offer group experiences.

How can a travel destination develop into a meaningful and life altering experience?

Those who look inward have inner spiritual and emotional journeys accompanying their physical journeys. Introspection and analysis of thoughts and feelings can add depth and richness to travel. Being aware of the Self while looking outward creates an interactive experience. Expecting the site to make it happen is a set up for disappointment.

Planning a pilgrimage involves building expectations. When we are aware of our expectations, we can set realistic goals. Having our hopes dashed can lead to anger and disenchantment. Being prepared and realistic can be achieved with proper planning and research about a destination. It can also be achieved with a personal commitment to being open to whatever happens.

Taking time alone to feel and see a place without the interpretation someone else puts on a place can add to the sense of an individual understanding and a personal awareness.

By accepting that the challenge to feel something spiritual, while exploring places that are crowded, commercial and touristy, is a task we set for ourselves. We can work to create an experience that will promote personal growth. It is possible to learn new ways to be. By listening to the inner voice, the inner head chatter, new awareness can be discovered. This new awareness can lead to choices that influence the experience. We can connect with our spirits and to universal forces by accepting the personal responsibility for creating sacredness in the space.

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