“The Self is the Universe, and its exploration is a lifelong process that we undergo again and again.”
We often hear people say they will never forget the feeling of being in a place. For some reason, certain places seem to impact us that go beyond our five senses. We feel something inside us move when we are there, without any rhyme or reason — it's almost mystical! Such is the power of Self and being conscious of it for the first time.
Ten Places on Earth For Self Exploration
St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy
The first church built in the Vatican is St. Peter's Basilica. The glimpse of the church from afar does nothing short of taking your breath away. The basilica is decorated inside and out with breathtaking mosaics and features many splendid works of art and sculptures by Michelangelo and Bernini.
The cathedral makes us contemplate our connection to ourselves. To our faith. What does it mean when we call ourselves spiritual but actually believe little of what we profess? Perhaps those who feel most strongly about their beliefs will find their way here at least once in their lifetime; if not, they are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to explore their spirituality.
Mt. Shasta (California United States)
Mt. Shasta (also called Shastina) is an active stratovolcano in Siskiyou County, California. It is one of the most important sacred mountains for Native Americans.
For older Native Americans who hear its call, the Mountain represents a journey into their own minds — a spiritual quest for truth and enlightenment of the Self. It is also a place where people transform through visions, dreams, or otherworldly experiences that come true when they return home. Mt. Shasta is a place to find an alternative spirituality not offered in mainstream religions.
Mt. Sinai, Egypt
The great monolith, Mt. Sinai, is the highest mountain in the Sinai Peninsula. It is not only an important place for Muslims but also a sacred site for Christians and Jews; hence, it has been dubbed "the Mountain of God."
The Journeys to the Sacred Center (a compilation of five books on Christian pilgrimage) includes Mount Sinai. For one to reach out to their Self, it means reaching a state that's close as possible as perfect union with God — a state which each mystic seeks within them Self (or even outside themselves). To get this experience while visiting Mt. Sinai would be intensely spectacular and deeply rewarding. And those who prefer climbing to hiking can feel free to do so.
Nazca Lines, Peru
The Nazca Lines is a series of substantial geometric shapes and figures etched onto the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. It is hard to contemplate their true meaning–mostly because no one can tell for sure what they mean. It's a mystery that has fascinated scholars, archeologists, and tourists alike. This resonates with the tourists visiting there because the Self is just as mysterious as the geoglyphs. As you walk among the designs, you feel their power and energy. Recent research suggests that the lines were ritualistic in purpose, designed to be walked along in a quest for spirituality and enlightenment.
Mount Arunachala, India
Mount Arunachala or "the sacred white Mountain," is the most sacred place for Hindus and also one of the holiest Buddhist sites. It is located in the Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu, India. Many believe that an influential saint, who meditated there for many years, inhabited this mountain at one point or another.
The ancient tradition includes several pilgrimages to Mount Arunachala depending on your needs: from finding love to discovering spiritual truth. If you're uncertain about the path toward self-discovery, it is always best to reach out to someone who knows more than yourself–often an expert will lead you to answers that would normally be unclear to you — which explains why it's best to spend some time in the Mountain.
Western Wall, Jerusalem
The Western Wall is the 28-foot Jewish holy site located in Old Jerusalem. It is also known as the "Wailing Wall" since Jews mourn their fallen loved ones when they go there. The sacred site has more meaning than just a wall, as many people come here seeking personal growth and spiritual enlightenment.
Some pilgrims pray for a better future, while others will be content with just being in touch with their roots. When you approach The Western Wall from any direction, there's something magical about its appearance. It feels like you are entering somewhere sacred yet mysterious at the same time — somewhat like what happens when you finally reach the depths of your Self.
Sanctuary of Apollo, Greece
The Sanctuary of Apollo is a sacred place in Greece where the God Apollo was the patron deity. This holy site was considered the center of the world and revered by the ancient Greeks of all walks of life. It was also one of the places where ancient pilgrims sought answers to their questions about life.
It's not just ordinary people who go there for spiritual enlightenment — Greek artists and poets have also found their creativity soaring after spending some time near this site. Those who seek to understand their Self will find enlightenment in this sacred site — and it is proven by those whose work has been profoundly influenced by their experience at this holy sanctuary.
Source Of The Ganges, India
Ganga is a sacred river and one of the holiest symbols in Hinduism. Its source lies at Gaumukh, Garhwal Himalaya, in the Gangotri Glacier at 3,892 meters from mean sea level. Nearly thirty million people make pilgrimages to this place every year — it's an annual ritual that makes them feel spiritually cleansed. Many pilgrims believe that bathing here will wash away their past sins and pave the way for a better future. That is why this holy river has a profound impact on many people who flock there for spiritual enlightenment. For millions of pilgrims worldwide, the Ganges River is a great place to find the Self.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Mecca is the holiest site for all Muslims because it houses the "Black Stone"–a meteorite that symbolizes purity and unity. It is believed that God directly created this place. This belief has made this site more sacred than ever before. So much so, that Muslims believe that once they die, their souls are sent there. Pilgrims flock here year-round for spiritual enlightenment,
When pilgrims approach Mecca, they feel something along the lines of enlightenment or bliss; some would say that the feeling is similar to what happens when you are in touch with your deepest Self.
Bodh Gaya, India
Bodh Gaya is the holy site where Lord Buddha attained supreme, perfect enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. It is believed that visiting this sacred site will bring peace to your mind — just like what happens when you finally find your true Self.
According to Buddhism, this place has something magical about it — so much that a single visit could potentially change one's life forever. Every year, millions of people travel here to seek answers from The One who found enlightenment and became selfless enough to share his knowledge with everyone willing to listen to him.
We have all heard the saying, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." When you approach sacred sites with an open mind and heart, you will indeed feel something primal rising inside you. Even the most articulate people run out of words when asked to describe the feeling. By simply listening to the creation stories of these sites, we can feel that they reflect a deep understanding of the interconnection of all living things and the universality of human experience.
Wherever you are, you're always connected to the Self. The question is whether you choose to see that connection or remain oblivious?