Travel Tuesday: Iceland

My wanderlust continues to grow and so I continue the Travel Tuesday series which is fast becoming a wish list for me!

This week, I Google-searched “happiest places to live,” because given some of the recent news and my short-lived season of disillusionment (see Saturday’s less-than-hopeful post about the California Drought) I was wondering:

Where are the places where citizens live in harmony and peace with one another? Do they exist? Do they exist in places where I can still get a cup of coffee and a cozy cafe? Or do I have to visit a tribe in the middle of the Amazon or sign up for a hipster barter-system commune in the Carolinas somewhere?

Much to my surprise, there actually exists measurement called the Global Peace Index (GPI) that is presented every year by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Apparently the GPI is applauded by important, peaceful people like the Dali Lama and probably Oprah, so let’s see what it has to say.

In 2014, the country with the highest score on the GPI was….

!! ICELAND !!

Compilation 1 Melaleuca Freedom Celebration

In fact, Iceland has scored in first place every year since the GPI began in 2007! Either somebody on the GPI board has a soft spot for Iceland, or it is a pretty special place. And why is it so special?

The GPI is based on factors like crime rate, incarceration rate, weapon accessibility, and war involvement that are combined to make three subcategories: Militarization, Society and Security, and Domestic and International Conflict. There are lots in interesting statistics on the site, including the national cost of violence, which for Iceland was US$105,000,000. Compare that to the U.S. cost which was $1,713,095,000,000. (By the way, in case some of you were wondering, the USA scored at number 101 out of 162 countries. :/)

Photo credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Photo credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Other than the economics, here are some other candidates for explaining Iceland’s happiness that I came across searching the web:

  • Nine months paid child leave
  • Air purity
  • Highest male life expectancy and almost highest female life expectancy
  • It-takes-a-village mentality to meet priority of rearing happy, healthy children
  • Björk 😉 — no really though, a vibrant artistic culture
  • Only country in Nato with no armed forces
  • Thriving economic system
  • Low sexism, low homophobia
  • (Necessary) respect for nature
  • Geothermal energy heating

 

Photo Credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Photo Credit: Giulia Cimarosti

The verdict?

Fá mér til Íslands !

Happy travel planning!

~~~Simone~~~

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Travel Tuesday: Silent Meditation Retreat

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

It’s so fun to make a list of the places in the world you’d like to go. It’s interesting to ask yourself why you picked the places on your list. I have recently been considering the possibilities and with last week’s post about The Elephant Nature Park, I began this series: Travel Tuesdays. I would love to hear about your favorite places to travel too!

This week, I’m writing about silent meditation retreats. During some online daydreaming, I came across a list on The Huffington Post called, Silent Retreats: 10 Fantastic Retreat Centers in the U.S. For Peace and Quiet. Massachusetts and California rule the list, but there are other highly-ranked  locations in Oregon, North Carolina, and Hawaii.

woman_meditating-451131

I wondered, what would be the benefits and challenges of a silent meditation retreat versus a regular meditation retreat? I can imagine the liberation of releasing the need to verbalize everything or to employ social niceties with everyone you encounter. I think for me it would be relatively easy to be silent…with the exception of the fact that I’m a chronic hummer and self-talker! I can imagine hearing new sounds you’d never noticed before. Like the quote above describes, I can imagine perceiving subtle energies in different kinds of silences. It all sounds lovely.

 "Listening to the Wind in Pines," by Ma Lin

“Listening to the Wind in Pines,” by Ma Lin

And what about the challenges? I know that sometimes when I’ve had a solitary day I feel a little stir-crazy in my own head (hence the self-talk). We are perpetually wanting to say what we think, how we feel. We want to ask questions and inquire. Being called to transcend those impulses would be quite the test. A worthy one I think! I also think there is a good chance that many hidden inner parts, seeking the ear that has suddenly become available, would present themselves and all of their needs. As long as there were skillful guides to help navigate these challenges, I would love to give this kind of retreat a try.

Have you ever been on a silent retreat? If so, where and for how long? And what did you think? Would you recommend a silent retreat to a fellow seeker?

For now, a silent retreat is officially on my list of “Get Me There!” places.

More next week. Enjoy your wanderlust and be beautiful.

~~~S Wave~~~

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