travelling as therapy by martin bennie

Going alone in wilderness was used as practice for spiritual rejuvenation and clarity throughout human history by many historic figures. Depending on personal development and readiness, some reported experiences of luminous clairvoyance, state of oneness and intense transformation.

There are plentiful examples of Jesus of Nazareth, Sakyamuni Buddha, Tibetan yogi Milarepa, Greek Orthodox monk Saint Simeon, David Thoreau and great number of others throughout history that used time alone in the wilderness as a way to clarify meaning of existence, to connect to the source of happiness within and shine a light on a path of individual evolution of consciousness.

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Going along in wilderness gives a variegated experience of space. Our habitually internalized relationship with our immediate environment has a tendency to subconsciously retrain our ability to envision new perspective on out universe and our place in it. Going into wilderness alone has a potential for a new possibility to see yourself in the world. 

External environment has a direct effect on our sense of well-being. As our mind makes sense of it internally through relational cognition. External space is a reflection of a space of the mind, which is experienced as awareness within which all appearances arising. 

"The environment and experiences change our brain, so who you are as a person changes by virtue of the environment you live in and experiences you have".

Going alone in wilderness with intention of nurturing yourself and opening to reality of inner experience as much as outer terrain will result in perceptual shifts. Spaciousness of outer expanse experienced by being alone in the wilderness will translate into softening of the edges of rigid relationship to conceptual definition of personal reality and a place within your universe. 

It may result in greater open-mindedness and more magnanimous attitude toward yourself and others. If you come away from a place of conflict or stagnation in not finding solution to whatever problem, being alone in wilderness may initiate a change. By nature of shifting environment it may cause you to abandon ardent attachment to focus on problematic position and let unexpected solution come. 

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Your perception, which is governed by mental habits might shift along with a change in vastness and serene stability of a landscape. It will affect your interaction within yourself by the way of slowing your mind down to let it rest in its natural state devoid of input for habitual reactivity. 

When this happens you may see others in a slightly different light, more like diverse flow of events and not like single snapshots you chose them to see. It will give rise to mental spaciousness and tolerance. 

There is a new branch of neuroscience specifically aimed at study of malleability of the brain, called Neuroplasticity. What long-believed to be true that brain formation is finished in early childhood was proven otherwise by researchers at Salk Institute for Biological Studies at La Jolla, California.They shown that the adult brain can change its structure, its connections and functions. Which meant that we can voluntarily transform our experience, by changing our minds and brains through the choice of environment, way of life and mental activity which we engage.

Enriched environments experiment on rats at the same university showed that by placing lab animals in rooms with play and exercise equipment gave rise to neurogenesis — an increase and survival of new neurons. 

It was a striking discovery that exposure to an enriched environment leads to increase in new neurons by 15% along with improvement in behavioral performance

Going alone in wilderness for mental health has a positive effect of removing mental static, which is seeing yourself stuck in a particular situation. We get ourselves stuck by firmly believing and identifying with our particular mental construct of fragments of reality into a concrete view. Identifying with our view of life as truly existent reality, completely solid and unchangeable gets us stuck.

Going in wilderness alone may help to loosen up our attachment to our version of reality, our universe by offering an opportunity to quiet the mind and notice the stream of thoughts and emotions from a standpoint of neutral observer. It might happen through deliberate use of meditative technique or by being removed from environment that re-enforces our habitual way of being. 

This is the opening into awareness - nature of who you are. Power of awareness is such that it is liberating from self-imposed limitations. The effect of the awareness on your thoughts, emotions and desires is detachment. You begin to observe emotions and thoughts as events passing through and not an intrinsic quality of yourself. You are not identical to these mental activities. As rigid structure of perceiving yourself and your relationship to circumstances in a particular way begins to soften up, there is an opening to become free to move forward.

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The border by martin bennie

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The Col De Bessata is the border area between france and spain and has the most stunning drive from Pau, along the valley and up through the Pyrenees and into spain. There was once a border, but that no longer exists and now the only remain reason to stop there is for the duty free shops, who sell hugh bulk items at amazing low prices. The sking in these areas is now almost non existant and ski towns remain empty most of the year. These town are spooky nowadays as no one lives in them in some cases and just boiarded up windows and old signs remain to show you that once, these were bustling towns during the winter season.

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A few people do come to this area during winter, mainly to walk into the fabulous mountains and pehaps find places to ski. Being in amongst so much snow, is on occasion, pretty odd, as everything is white and a sense of depth in the landscape is missing and there is nothing to focus when its white out conditions.

The contrast between the dark road here and white snow covered mountains, is just so appealing to me and to stand and admire nature in these conditions, just takes my breathe away somedays

Tuna fishing by martin bennie

I’d seen these boats on TV before, and with the lines of men along the boat, I knew right away what they were, but working offshore Brazil, i never expected to see them working so close to our vessel. After i spotted them casting their rods into the sea and pulling back time after time, with a big tuna fish on the end of the line, i dashed back for my camera. By the time i got back, they were just circling around and with the rough sea, overcast skies and pretty nice light, i snatched the only shot i thought might be worth viewing. Sometimes not carrying a camera around with you and seeing a moment like this, does frustrate you, but i saw them with my eyes and the memory will have to suffice for now. Every day now, i scan the seas, looking for my camera fodder, to show those who stay at home, what its like in our big bad world.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”