U.S. Experiences for Enlightenment

When travelers think about being enlightened, they typically have grand visions of gorgeous ancient temples set against a backdrop of lush forests somewhere in Southeast Asia. Enlightenment, however, is something you find in your heart, and if you know where to look, is something that you can find closer to home.

A True Retreat
High in the stunning Catskills of upstate New York lays beauty and tranquility that you’d be hard pressed to locate anywhere else. The silver waters reflect the brilliant green flora that surrounds it, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life is left somewhere far, far below. Yogis and laymen alike flock here to partake in yoga experiences to lighten their loads and release their minds. Yoga is only a small part of the exceptional retreats that take place on these mountains; other refreshing activities include hiking, swimming, karate and classes about healing and cleansing based on Buddhist principles.

Find Yourself Lost in Nature
Oneness with nature can take many forms, but the best way to achieve it is to throw yourself into a setting that is unique and possibly even strange—for you. Hiking is a fantastic way to exert yourself physically while still taking the time to clear your mind and relax, and one of the best places in the United States to have this kind of experience is in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

In Canyonlands there are many, many trails to choose from which will challenge your mind, body and spirit. Take a 30 minute sunrise excursion to get your muscles warmed up or plan on spending the night on one of the longer, scenic routes which offer amazing views of canyons, craters, rivers, buttes and mountains. Whichever trail—or trails—you decide to enjoy, make sure you take the time to soak in every ounce of the experience. Touch the red rocks and marvel at their stunning color. Walk through the cool water and revel in the cleansing feeling it gives you. Admire the mountains in the distance and acknowledge their radiance and majesty.

Sun, Surf and Serenity
Most people like the beach; there is simply something appealing about the sand, sun and surf. However, few people use their time at the ocean to reflect and allow their being to reach a higher level of peace. Yoga on the beach is an incredibly relaxing experience—the sound of the waves hitting the shore plays the perfect tune, allowing you to concentrate on yourself and leave the rest of the world behind. Yoga out on the water is a similar, gratifying experience.

The best way to find your center is to balance on something that isn’t as stable as the earth; when you visit Laguna Beach, California you can find your Zen out on a paddleboard. Try it out on your own or join a paddleboard yoga class. This new experience will invite your body and soul to connect.

Starlight, Star Bright
It is easiest to find ourselves and discover the true nature of being when the sun goes down and the busy world goes to rest. Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the best places in the continental United States to escape light pollution and delight in the wondrous glow of the cosmos. Spend the entire night outdoors soaking up the light from the heavens and meditating on your own place in the universe. When the sun rises above the rugged, icy peaks that surround you, head out for a day of earnest exploration.