All posts by Kirsten Cowart

Kirsten is a writer who loves to practice vipassana meditation, yoga, travel, and learning about nature, consciousness, and how to make the world a better place. Her current interests involve studying and practicing flow, staying In Flow, and recognizing the natural flow of the universe. Kirsten loves to learn about the holistic healing arts. She is also interested in ancient cultures and practices such as Druidism. Kirsten is honored to be apart of such an incredible movement of love and heart centered living in this world.

Why do so many people ‘get lost’ to find themselves?

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves”. Wise words from famed poet Henry David Thoreau, and these words have inspired thousands to seek out their purpose and meaning in life. But why does ‘getting lost’ seem to be the best way to find our true selves? No one really knows the perfect way, but spiritual traveling seems to be what many Westerners believe works.

Why do we Travel to Find Ourselves

Arguably the most common reason people decide to get as far away from their problems as possible is they feel like they have to go down a certain path even if they aren’t motivated to do so.

This includes things like going to a good college, getting a high paying job, getting married, etc. They think there will be this ‘epiphany’ that will suddenly make them realize what they want to do with their life.

The problem is that this often never comes. We get a feeling of being on autopilot, going through the motions of daily life without purpose. We find it stupid and unsafe to follow our dreams because it’s so far off the path of traditional and societal norms laid out for us. So by taking a bold chance to go on a spiritual journey, we feel like we’ve finally taken control of our lives and broken the monotony.

We feel this insatiable desire to be united with our inner self and find our true wants, so we start out with the idea of finding a linear path to lead to our ‘true self’. The reality is that life is a journey with no distinct end, much like a circle maze. So don’t fear the maze, being lost can be a turning point to finding out what you’re truly interested in. If you’re looking for a starting point, check out these 5 places.

5 Spiritual Travel Locations

1. Source of the Ganges (India)

The holiest river in Hinduism stretches over 2000km long throughout India. Every year, thousands make the pilgrimage to the source near Gangotri, trekking 24km from the city.  A trickle of water at the end is where pilgrims perform darshans (offerings) as they ask for blessings.

2. Camino de Santiago (Spain)

The Tomb of the Apostle St James is so popular that it’s been named Europe’s Premier Cultural Itinerary and a Unesco World Heritage site. The journey there covers 783km along the Atlantic coast, but it’s recommended you cycle or ride a horse for the trip. Some brave souls decide to walk it as is the tradition. The trip takes about one month, so be prepared.

3. Golden Temple (India)

Located on the India-Pakistan border in Amritsar, this shining temple is known as the holiest site in Sikhism. It sits in the middle of the holy Amrit Sarovar pool while pilgrims bathe in the pool and amble clockwise around the marble edges. Visitors are also allowed to join in on prayers inside and around the temple.

4. Mt. Athos (Greece)

Known as the ‘holy mountain’, 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries surround the slopes on Greece’s Chalkidiki Peninsula. There are strict rules, however, as only 100 Orthodox and 10 non-Orthodox pilgrims are allowed in at a time and it’s limited to men over the age of 18. Permits for non-Orthodox followers must be made 6 months in advance. You take a boat to get to the mountain then you can walk between each of the monasteries.

5. 88 Temple Circuit (Japan)

Located on the island of Shikoku, 88 temples are scattered throughout the 1500km trail. They symbolize the 88 evil human passions defined by Buddhism. Traditionally this pilgrimage was walked, but nowadays you can go by bus to complete it within a day. If you’re looking for something a little more modern with the same effect it’s a good start.

Although a spiritual journey may help you find some purpose or meaning, the true answers will always be deep down in you. Too often we try to find meaning outside our body when in reality the answer is inside us. The eye can see everything except for itself, so try looking in a mirror and you just might find what you’ve been missing!

This article was written by The Hearty Soul. The Hearty Soul is a rapidly growing community dedicated to helping you discover your most healthy, balanced, and natural life.

Sources:

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/76631

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/feeling-lost-and-how-it-can-help-you-find-yourself/

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-we-struggle-to-find-ourselves-and-how-to-do-it/

http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Yourself

Images:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nikonmeyou/3204299972/sizes/l

https://pixabay.com/en/norway-mountain-sky-blue-water-772991/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/malasing23/25530761383/sizes/l

tattoo significance meaning

5,300-year-old Tattoos – and Ancient Meanings

The oldest piece of human skin with a tattoo on it dates back to around 3370 – 3100 BC. It was discovered on the skin of a man discovered preserved in ice on the Italian-Austrian border. The tattoos seem to be made from ash or soot, and experts speculate that they are related to acupuncture points on the body.

Tattooing has evolved quite drastically over the millennia since then, going through various cultural and spiritual manifestations, and in the West today people are choosing to get tattoos with much greater personal significance.

Who Are You?

tattoo meaning modern

In an increasingly interconnected world – thanks to the internet – people are confronted on an almost daily basis with the question “Who are you?”. Before they update a Facebook status, send a tweet, or upload a picture to Instagram, they have to think about how that little piece of information released into the digital wild will reflect on them.

In the same breath, the personal stories each of us have to tell can be told each day anew through our next social media post. In a world of such transience, perhaps tattoos offer not only an indicator of who we are, but an anchor to remind us of that fact too.

It is widely thought that tattoos first made it to the United States of America as a way for U.S. sailors to avoid being forcibly entered into the British Royal Navy following the American Revolution. Sailors were ruthlessly recruited, even in spite of protection papers proving their newfound citizenship. As such, tattoos were used to add an extra mark of uniqueness and identity, keeping them safe!

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, tattoos were usually used as symbols of membership to various subcultures. However, in recent years, helped by the popularity of the internet, tattoos have become a lot more widely accepted in the mainstream.

With this popularity and acceptance, comes celebration. People are much more likely to get a “work of art” tattooed. They want something they can proudly show off to friends and strangers alike, as opposed to smaller, more subtle tattoos to be kept hidden and only revealed to the other “members of the club” so to speak.

Tattoos and Identity

tattoos meaning modern

The significance of tattoos has evolved just as much as their designs have. Tattoos are increasingly there as a reminder and definition of identity. Identities are incredibly complex and, as such, the tattoos people choose to represent themselves are getting increasingly complex.

No longer are tattoos themselves enough to make a person stand out from the crowd. With approximately 20% of Americans now bearing ink, it’s increasingly difficult to get an entirely unique tattoo. To create and fix that identity and properly stand out, a tattoo has to be completely original and exclusive to that person.

Various studies into the reasons behind why people get tattoos done have revealed that it’s a sense of “anchoring” that’s central to most people’s justifications. For many, a common, everyday tattoo isn’t significant enough to them, and might get lost in this big wide world.

Further to this, University of Arkansas professor Anne Velliquette, who studies consumer behavior and popular culture, notes that it is just as much about “cement[ing] aspects of their current selves.” Tattoos act almost like a “time capsule” for a specific moment in that person’s life. One might even think of it as a “personality capsule.”

The pain and dedication that it takes to get the skin tattooed also adds to the significance of having a meaningful and expressive tattoo. Almost like a rite of passage, the time and pain that goes into each piece of body art, calls for some degree of respect. After all, for hundreds of years, tattoos were used primarily as a part of rites of passage ceremonies. They would mark a person who was significant in some way, symbolizing status or tribal affinity.

In respect to modern tattooing, why waste all that time and effort to ultimately dislike a tattoo, to cover it from everyone, or even get it removed?

Are Tattoos For You?

Ultimately, the meaning behind a tattoo is entirely subjective and down to the person whose skin under which it sits. Perhaps you have a deeply personal connection to an otherwise popular tattoo symbol – a star, anchor, or infinity symbol, for example. As long as you hold your body art close to your heart, and love its significance in your life, you can’t go wrong!

This article was written by The Hearty Soul. The Hearty Soul is a rapidly growing community dedicated to helping you discover your most healthy, balanced, and natural life.

Sources:

1. Weller C. The Identity Crisis Under the Ink. The Atlantic. 2014. Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/the-identity-crisis-under-the-ink/382785/. Accessed September 16, 2016.

2. Ötzi – La mummia al Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige. Museo Archeologico dell’Alto Adige. 2016. Available at: http://iceman.it/mummia/#tatuaggi. Accessed September 16, 2016.

3. These 10 Tattoos Have Deep Spiritual And Religious Meaning. The Huffington Post. 2015. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/these-10-tattoos-have-deep-spiritual-and-religious-meaning_us_56407716e4b0307f2cadf3ee. Accessed September 16, 2016.

lightning-volcano-smoke

11 Naturally Occuring Phenomenon That Aren’t Photoshopped

Our planet is a strange and wondrous place full of amazingly beautiful scenery all across it. There’s still so much to be discovered in the world, however, so sometimes when we see these incredible phenomena we find it hard to believe they’re real.

Especially since Photoshop has become so popular in doctoring photos. I can assure you that these natural wonders are entirely real even if your eyes refuse to believe it.

 

1. Volcanic lightning

Your first thought may be Lord of the Rings, but Mt. Doom is surprisingly based on a real thing. When a volcano erupts, lightning can occur within the smoke plumes billowing out.

This happens as a result of charge separation much like in a thunderstorm as the volcano carries positive charge into the sky. Ash, rock and ice particles all collide which creates balance in the atmosphere. I’m still convinced that it’s probably Sauron’s doing.

2. Methane ice bubbles

Macro of ice structure with air bubble

Imagine playing pond hockey on some ice like this.

Lake Abraham in Alberta, Canada is home to a strange sight of frozen bubbles underneath the ice.

Bacteria in the lake digest organic material which releases methane bubbles.

When the methane makes contact with ice water it freezes in shape and rises to the top.

3. Giant’s Causeway

Legend says it was created by a mythical Irish giant known as Finn MacCool when he was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant Benandonner.

Located in Northern Ireland, approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns look carved from the rocky cliff side, with some of the columns as tall as 12 meters (39ft) with 5-8 sides.

They are actually believed to be the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It’s no wonder they’re one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions. Continue reading

imagination

5 Reasons Our Imagination Is More Important Than Reality

You wouldn’t believe all the great stories I have.

There was this one time I was sailing on the Atlantic ocean, and the ship was attacked by cannibalistic pirates who took the crew for hostages and lunch.

There was the other time I was at a masked ball in Victorian Paris with a secret mission with my wanted-for-treason face hidden behind a butterfly costume. Once I found a magic spell that taught me how to fly. Did I mention that I was switched at birth to this realm to protect me from the annihilation in the elf kingdom where I originate?

… I did say you wouldn’t believe me.

Honestly, I am not lying. Those things did happen to me, and more.

Just not in the literal world.

You wouldn’t claim the above stories are entirely false if you understood the detail in which I imagined them.

For those who relate to everything I am saying, good for you. For those who are doubtful, here are five reasons why imagination is better than reality.

1. Imagination Ignites Passion

In life, we have our responsibilities that cannot be ignored. There’s bills to pay, incomes to earn, jobs to work (or suffer) through, and sometimes these necessities dictate our days and our experiences. Dreaming of the future reminds us what it is like to be passionate about something. After all, a rut makes it easy to forget why we are doing this.

Imagination brings passion and purpose to our responsibilities.

2. Our Thoughts Create Our Future

Sai Baba once said, “All action results from thought, so it is thoughts that matter.” (1)

Our creative muscle is what makes our plans come to fruition. If we would stay in the present at all times, we will recreate the same problems and experiences over and over again.

However, if we would let our imagination create a new reality, your actions and energy will set the future to change. Continue reading

earthart1

These Surreal Satellite Images Remind Us That Earth Is A Work of Art

Every day we hear about the destruction that we, as a species, do to our planet. The pockets of wilderness that still exist on our planet are becoming smaller and smaller, and as they continue to shrink it can be easy to become increasingly cynical and hopeless about our chances of protecting it.

However, every now and again a set of images are produced that remind us of the intricate beauty of nature and that it is worth conserving. The U.S. Geological Society has recently released a set of images that do exactly that.

The pictures were originally taken to show the changes that happen to our planet over time, but when the team starting taking them, they adapted their motives. Rather than mapping changes, they simply took images that highlighted the complex beauty of Earth from the air.

The full list of images can be seen here. However, we picked our favourite four that show that our planet is worth fighting for.

Great Sandy Desert, AustraliaEarth art

The yellow of the dunes is a beautiful juxtaposition with the red that indicates forest fires that had scorched the grass and forest at the time the picture was taken.

The mix of colours in the rest of the image are different forms of geological formations.

Tanezrouft Basin, AlgeriaEarth art

Taken over a desolate area of the Sahara Desert, the striking colours of the sand dunes and sandstone formations are the only features in a landscape that don’t hold a drop of water. Continue reading

Conversation tips

8 Practical Ways To Open Your Energy During Conversation

Conversation is the essence of humanity. The invention of complex language is arguably the most significant step in the history of our species. Language gave us the means to articulate the way we feel, exchange ideas and accelerate our move towards civilization.

As society moves forward, the complexity of communication continues to increase. There are thousands of languages across the world, but underneath each and every one of them is a universal truth behind how we communicate with one another. Whether it is through subtle body language or the way we address each other, the common thread exists.

For some, the ability to pick up on subtle social clues comes naturally, and they are able to exude charm and charisma without a moment’s thought. For others, the art of conversation takes a little more work. If you fit into the latter camp do not despair!

This article provides a list of eight simple tricks that anyone can use to shift people’s opinion of you and turn you into a master craftsman of the spoken word.

 

Use their name

Whether people want to admit it or not, we are all ego driven machines to an extent. So when you meet someone new, give them the sense that they are important by working their name into the conversation.

Having someone new say our name makes us feel like we are worth remembering. In your first exchange with someone try to use their name at least three times in the first five minutes. Make sure you don’t force the name in, just gently use it at the end of questions e.g. where are you from Erica?, etc.

Don’t underestimate silence

Conversation tips

Even if they aren’t pausing for effect or in thought, silence shows that you are comfortable to wait for their response and forces them to continue the conversation.

This comfort makes you appear confident, which is a very likeable trait.

Nod your head whilst asking questions

Still on the subject of questions, nodding your head whilst you ask a question influences the other people you are speaking with. Nodding, as a positive action, is more likely to create positivity within the conversation and an agreement with your opinions. You exude confidence from subtly implying that you are right and that they should agree with what you say. Continue reading